Dollars for Digitization! Interactive Forms are Coming to CA DCSS

By: Reanna Perez, CA DCSS

The federal Office of Child Support Enforcement has awarded the Intergovernmental Case Processing Innovation Demonstration Grant to the Intergovernmental Services (IGS) section of California Child Support Services (CA DCSS). The funds will be utilized to pilot technology that will expedite the modification of intergovernmental child support orders, speed up the establishment of intergovernmental cases, and help parents fulfill their obligations.

All the paperwork required to review and adjust a child support payment order can be a burden on both the child support agency and the parent requesting the modification. Add the delay to mail back and forth between other states and countries, and you have an issue ripe for digitization. The goal of this grant is to create something along the lines of TurboTax, which takes VERY complicated tax paperwork and walks a participant through it so it all makes sense. With over 199,000 intergovernmental cases in California’s caseload alone, this project offers a unique opportunity to impact a broad group of participants, test the product before taking it statewide and assess the effect on processes for caseworkers.

The $500,000 in grant funds will assist with the procurement and implementation of an interactive forms solution which can be customized to guide participants in the completion of forms, provide electronic signatures and secure delivery functionality, automatically validate form field responses, and enable multilingual support for developed forms. The funds will also pay for developers to integrate the product with existing CA DCSS applications for seamless deployment and greatly improved processing procedures. IGS will pilot all of this in partnership with four county child support agencies (Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego and Sonoma) to determine effectiveness and caseworker impacts over the course of the next two years.

In utilizing interactive forms technology for this project, CA DCSS anticipates an increase in the number of review and adjustment packets returned, a decrease in the number of days in processing the packets, an increase in compliance with court orders, and other improvements in the process itself. Successful implementation of the pilot should deliver improved efficiency in intergovernmental case processing and increased collections, clearing the way for expanded use throughout the entire California caseload.

This project is divided into three phases and is anticipated to run through 2021. Like the digital media marketing grant activities currently underway in Del Norte, Imperial, Merced, Orange, Sacramento, and San Diego counties, this partnership between OCSE and state and local child support agencies will encourage and support technology innovations as the child support program strives nationwide to create a better customer experience.