Employers and Child Support Agencies: Collaboration is Key

Part of a series  |  Wage Garnishment Insights

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This update from Corrinne Flores, Director of Government Affairs for ADP, notes the efficiencies and practical outcomes that have resulted from years of targeted collaboration between government and private entities, all with the goal of improving child support enforcement.

Collaboration is key when stakeholders work together to make a program or process a success. The National Council of Child Support Directors (NCCSD) Employer Collaboration Workgroup is a great example of collaboration and partnership between the employer community and the child support program.

NCCSD established the first workgroup in 2018 to improve lump sum reporting and withholding. Workgroup members included state child support agency directors or their designees, members of the American Payroll Association, representatives from many of the nation's largest employers, and the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement's (OCSE) Employer Services Team. The workgroup successfully drafted model legislation that states can adopt to address lump sum reporting and withholding and addressed standardizing timeframes for employer reporting and state responses.

In states with existing mandatory lump sum reporting laws, provisions in the model legislation may be used to create or update regulations and/or guidelines. Drafting the model legislation resulted in both employers and child support agencies seeing the process from a different perspective, including identifying challenges and recommending solutions.

In addition to drafting model legislation, the workgroup recommended enhancements to OCSE's portal for lump sum reporting. OCSE acted on these recommendations, and now employers receive a match notification when they report employees who are eligible to receive a lump sum payment.

In the fall of 2021, Communication Center will be available on the OCSE portal to facilitate secure message and document exchange between employers and child support agencies and OCSE staff. Based on the success of the Employer Lump Sum Collaboration Workgroup, attendees of the 2019 Employer Symposium recommended establishing another workgroup to address ways to improve overall processes between child support agencies and employers. In December 2019, NCCSD established the Employer Collaboration Workgroup to identify tasks and develop a strategy to accomplish those tasks, to improve shared employer and child support agency processes to establish and enforce child support orders.

Since 2020, workgroup activities include:

  • discussing potential changes to the Income Withholding for Support Order form to be considered during the next Office of Management and Budget (OMB) renewal in 2023, such as reducing the number of identifiers on the form
  • reviewing mock-ups for the upcoming Communication Center on OCSE's portal
  • gathering information about automating the electronic National Medical Support Notice (e-NMSN) and providing periodic updates
  • developing a standard response to verification of employment (VOE) requests
  • conceptualizing a national employer database

The workgroup spent a significant amount of time on improving the VOE process by working together to develop a standard response to child support agency requests. While recognizing that states have some different VOE response requirements, the workgroup's first step was to identify the information that states need to establish and modify orders.

Nearly all child support agencies have agreed to accept the standard VOE response developed by the workgroup. This means when employers receive a VOE request, they can return the standard VOE response. Employers' ability to provide a standard VOE allows for automation in responding to the requests, resulting in states receiving timely responses at higher volumes.

These are all examples of employers working with the child support community to understand different perspectives, capabilities, and limitations, and using that information to create efficiencies and processes that benefit all stakeholders and ultimately ensure children and families receive child support.

For related information, listen to ADP's webinar, Workplace Spotlight: Strategies for Wage Garnishment Compliance, available on-demand.

Corri Flores is the Director of Government Affairs for ADP, LLC. Corri manages the relationships between ADP and Wage Garnishments agencies to gather information and cultivate positive relationships. She has been with ADP for over twenty-six years and has spent much of her career within the Agency Relations organization. She has participated on the American Payroll Association's Government Relations Task Force (GRTF) for Child Support and Wage Garnishments workgroups for the past eight years and is the current Chair of both the GRTF Child Support and Garnishment workgroups. She is a member of the National Child Support Enforcement Association and currently serves on its Board of Directors.

This article was originally published in the National Child Support Enforcement Association's October 2021 issue of the Child Support CommuniQue (CSQ) and is reprinted with permission.