How Child Support Agencies Can Re-Shape Operations to Improve Services
The Annual Policy Forum gathered State Child Support Directors, federal officials and industry experts in child support and family services from around the country, including TurboKIDZ Co-Founder Alex Zilberfayn and Client Services Director Scott Crampton.
Several thought-provoking concepts came out of the sessions and speakers during the multi-day conference. But perhaps the most significant point from these experts is this: ALL participants in child support efforts need to not only change the perception of child support services, but more importantly they must change how those services are provided, in order to best engage with the families involved. Here, we highlight three key take-aways that anyone involved in child support services must consider:
TAKE-AWAY #1: Changing Faces: Our Evolving Perceptions of ‘Child Support’
Traditionally, child support enforcement agencies have approached their duties as an adversarial system, where representatives have acted as bounty hunters, tracking down and capturing non-compliant non-custodial parents, and threatening them with sanctions or even incarceration, in order to force them to fulfill their financial obligations. In short, it’s all about the money, honey.
Many people are questioning the efficacy of that approach. As our society evolves, the public perception of child support is also changing. So what does this mean for the child support community? A key factor required to transition from confrontational to collaborative is connectivity, which improves communication and cooperation. Agencies and service providers must focus on connecting family members with each other and available support services, in order to strengthen the family unit. Child support needs to be viewed as family support, helping all parties to work together to become financially and emotionally supportive.
By significantly increasing the use of technology, particularly that connects a family to the agency 24×7 from anywhere, agencies can provide some much-appreciated convenience, privacy, and dignity to those involved. However, it’s not enough to merely provide online access. Technology must include intuitive and assistive tools that provide self-help information, guidance and empower families to obtain services they need online without calling for help.
Long gone are the days of waiting hours in offices for in-person sessions, trying to understand confusing legal jargon, filling in redundant information in bulky forms, pouring through complicated instructions and long lines for services that frustrate families and make child support an enemy, not a partner in family sustainability.
TAKE-AWAY #2: Unless agencies leverage technology to “work smarter not harder”, they will fail to fulfill their mission.
Decreasing caseloads, more complex family situations, and funding limitations are all realities of today’s child support services. Equally true is the fact that unless agencies find ways to improve their customer engagement and interactions and expand services to a new customer base with greater efficiency, they will not become more effective. In fact, they will likely fall further behind in their attempt to meet expanding performance measures that federal, state and internal oversight organizations require.
Leveraging advanced technology that meets customers where they are (online), in the way more and more are accustomed to interacting (plain language guidance, simple just–in–time Q&A style, etc.) is the answer.
When evaluating a technology platform, child support agencies should seek a solution that provides the following critical features:
- Rapid, secure cloud–based delivery
- Enable virtual self-help
- Automatic form selection and generation
- Provides data that eliminates repetitive data entry
- Refocus staff from intake to enforcement
- Guarantee 100% compliance
- Continuous maintenance, updates and support
When technology is leveraged properly, agencies can deliver effective online service instead of customers lined up at counters, lengthy telephone calls, paper–shuffling, etc. Technology that adapts to your program is the key to more efficient service delivery can help you eliminate time spent obtaining, reviewing and correcting error-prone applications and forms. Increased efficiency only comes from increased use of intelligent automation technology.
TAKE-AWAY #3: Paper is the past. Welcome to the data domain
Today’s child support environment is not just about customer service; It’s more about customer delivery. And to show you deliver services efficiently and meet performance requirements, you need to prove it with data. Lots and lots of data.
The timing of data is crucial as well. It’s important to record data that measures not only your output, but also measures your outcomes and, most important, helps you make management decisions about how you achieve the end goals of your organization. The right data, at the right time, which generally means on demand.
Key data-driven factors that will govern child support management in the years to come:
- System-verified data
- Readily-available data through filters
- On-demand reports
- Advanced analytics
Experts advise that the most efficient way to get data is to make data, not paper, the mainstay of your operations. In other words, data generation should be a core component of how you do your work, not a supplement to your work. Transitioning from a paper-centric to a data–driven business process is the first step in becoming a modern service delivery organization that can prove its efficiency and effectiveness to customers, business partners and funding authorities.
About The Authors
Alex Zilberfayn is the Co-Founder and Business Development Director for Intresys, the company that developed and . Alex leads a team of client advocacy professionals, as they collaborate to solve problems.
Scott Crampton joined Intresys in 2014 after a 35-year career in court administration at local, state and federal levels. As Director of Client Services for Intresys, Scott leads Business Development efforts including client support & account management.
From the creators of TurboCourt, TurboKIDZ is a unique intelligent software designed to help child support agencies serve families better. Winner of , TurboKIDZ automates intake, review and adjustment processing, which improves staff efficiency and increases collection rates.
With a simple, user-friendly interface and advanced technology driving innovative automation and quality control, TurboKIDZ is the technology tool of choice for child support teams across the country, helping agencies evolve into dynamic and customer focused service providers.