The February 2020 Child Support Report originally featured this article by Janae Franklet, Child Support Manager, Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska.
The Tribal Child Support Unit (TCSU) for the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska celebrated a significant milestone in early 2019 after recording $1 million in collections in FY 2018. But we didn’t sit back and relax. We set our FY 2019 goal to increase collections by 5%. The TCSU didn’t just achieve that goal. We surpassed 2018 by 16%; that’s $190,000 more than the previous year.
Correlations and trends
We remain concerned that our slow decline in applications may eventually cause our collections to stagnate or decrease. Our collections coincide with the amount of Permanent Fund Dividends the state pays out to Alaska residents annually. The dividend amount varies from year to year and our unit has no control over that in relation to the overall collection totals. With this in mind, we’ll concentrate on being proactive for families while we attempt to meet our FY 2020 targets.
Using services to promote stability
Through the Central Council, we offer these wraparound services:
- Employment and training
- Family violence prevention
- Child care
- Family strengthening through parenting classes and programs
The TCSU looks to engage custodial and noncustodial parents (NCPs) in these programs to improve the stability of families.
We believe these wraparound services will help in the long-term to reduce the number of child support cases. We understand fewer cases may mean a reduction in collections; but we hope increased family stability will improve the outcomes of children and will help parents become higher income earners. For each NCP who earns more money, there’s often an increase in that parent’s child support order, which means an increase in each family’s income. An increase in the dollar amount per child support order means the NCPs are succeeding. NCP success positively affects families.
Planning for growth
When child support is directly disbursed to families, there is less need for families to receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and other public assistance. We’ve had a steady increase in the percentage of our collections that go directly to families since FY 2015. During that year, 63% went to families, and by FY 2018, we passed through 72%. As we continue to process FY 2019 payments, we hope to see this percentage remain at or above that level.
In FY 2020, we look forward to finding ways to increase our collections by another 5%. We’ve identified three areas where we hope to improve our operations to better serve our families.
- Move from paper to electronic records
- Increase access to wraparound services
- Improve community outreach efforts by implementing child support workshops at strategically placed meeting locations and during times that are most convenient to clients.
Higher efficiency in these areas will allow our Tribal Child Support Unit to concentrate even more on family-centered case management.
The TCSU staff continues to find ways to improve collection efforts. We understand that the more we collect, the better our children will be. But it’s not just about collections. When we help the parents, we help the children, and we improve the tribe.