In 1995, President Clinton proclaimed August as “National Child Support Awareness Month” to mark the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the federal child support enforcement program. Many states and tribes continue to recognize Child Support Awareness Month in August with events to highlight the importance of child support and to celebrate families. Last month was no exception with programs nationwide finding ways to safely celebrate in person and raise awareness virtually.
I am incredibly proud of the child support program for its resilience during the pandemic and finding creative ways to serve children and families. The past 18 months have only strengthened our determination to adapt to ongoing challenges. In this issue, you’ll read about a television and radio campaign, school supply drives, a statewide Dine to Donate fundraiser, a variety of community events, an award-winning awareness campaign, and more. I hope these efforts give you a newfound sense of pride in the work our program does.
Linda Boyer, Acting Commissioner
This blog gives the commissioner a forum to communicate directly with child support professionals and other stakeholders about relevant topics. The Commissioner’s Voice is reprinted from the September 2021 Child Support Report newsletter.
Photos and summaries from some of this year’s Child Support Awareness Month efforts:
The Hawaii Child Support Enforcement Agency launched their inaugural school supply drive in August. They created 300 bundles of binders, crayons, markers, pencils, erasers, paper, composition books, rulers, and spiral notebooks. They held a drive-through event for parents to pick up the bundles, and all supplies were gone in just over an hour. The program also had a table in their customer service center for parents to pick up school supplies and books when they visited the office. They also shared the donated supplies with the Hawaii Department of Education Liaisons to support homeless youth.
The Klamath Tribes Child Support Department marked August by distributing important resources to clients and neighbors. They helped distribute resource bags from the Culture and Heritage Department to child support clients. These bags had tulle mat kits, a water bottle, face masks, coloring kits, and swim passes for adults and children. They also purchased first aid kits and gave them to attendees at the Annual Culture Camp and back-to-school event.
Lac du Flambeau Tribe and Wisconsin
The Lac du Flambeau Tribal Child Support Program, Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, and the Wisconsin Child Support Enforcement Association hosted a virtual food drive to raise money to combat child hunger in honor of Child Support Awareness Month. The Lac du Flambeau community sold handmade beaded earrings, ribbon onesies, ribbon shirts, skirts, and baskets of food. They also received donations, including two tie blankets, gift certificates, and gift cards to raise money. The food drive raised over $5,000 to help families.
Mescalero Apache Tribe
The Mescalero Apache Tribal Child Support Office held a back-to-school event in collaboration with the Tribal Education Department. Staff distributed backpacks, hand sanitizer, and school supplies to students from kindergarten to 12th grade. They also handed out child support pamphlets and information to parents and enjoyed wishing students a happy and successful school year.
“Working Together for Children” was this year’s theme for Missouri’s Child Support Awareness Month. The Missouri Child Support program held a virtual kick-off meeting that showcased this year’s activities. They hosted several Back-to-School Fairs and distributed school supplies, nurses’ supplies, and child support information. The office also staffed a Missouri State Fair booth where they met with citizens to talk about the child support program and how it could benefit their families. Office coordinators also scheduled over 30 Dine to Donate events across the state where restaurants and food trucks donated a portion of their proceeds to charity. This year, all proceeds went to the Missouri Family and Community Trust, benefiting Missouri children and families. Finally, after Hurricane Ida ripped through Houma, Louisiana, the program sent supplies and toiletries to make things a little more comfortable for residents while they work to rebuild their town.
On August 3, the Elko County District Attorney’s Criminal and Child Support Divisions participated in National Night Out. They set up a booth with child support applications, information on victim assistance, and details on the Great Basin Child Advocacy Center. Their booth had a coloring contest, three family-oriented raffle prizes, and games where kids could win a small prize. This event allowed their office to show the community that despite all the COVID closures, they are still available to help families.
New Mexico rolled out a promotional campaign in August called “The Modern Child Support Family Program.” The campaign includes television and radio announcements in English and Spanish and a radio ad in Navajo. The ads focus on modernizations in the child support program, including helping parents with job development and opportunities. The ads will air on local television and radio stations across the state through a partnership with the New Mexico Broadcasters Association.
North Carolina Child Support Services implemented a strategic marketing plan throughout August to promote services and increase use of their eChild Support Portal. Counties across the state also celebrated with a variety of activities and events. Cleveland County Child Support (see photos top and bottom left) participated in the National Night Out, where they handed out backpacks with school supplies, had face painting for children, and distributed promotional materials. Wilson County (top right) delivered Meals on Wheels, collected backpacks for students, and donated food items to their local National Night Out event. Richmond County (bottom right) held a child support amnesty event.
The Pennsylvania Bureau of Child Support Enforcement celebrated Child Support Awareness Month by helping young children in need. The program held a drive to collect diapers and wipes for Pennsylvania’s Child and Youth Services because these important supplies are always in demand. The office collected 1,071 diapers (newborn to size 6) and 2,864 wipes.
In August, the Virginia Division of Child Support Enforcement won NCSEA’s Program Awareness Award for their #supportVAkids campaign. This award honors a program that has developed an effective strategy to increase awareness of the child support program and how it enhances the well-being of children and families. Virginia’s awareness efforts continued throughout Child Support Awareness Month where their theme was “Families are changing. So are we.” It highlighted that each family is unique and that the program is committed to helping all children grow and thrive. They promoted their services and revamped online applications through a social media campaign, website updates, a special newsletter, employee activities, and more.