By Alicia Key, vice president, Child Support Solutions, State Enterprise Solutions, Xerox
I joined Xerox after having worked in the public sector for more than 30 years – 20 of which I spent in Texas state government. My primary goal as a member of the state’s Child Support Division was to ensure that children received financial and emotional support from both parents on a regular and reliable basis.
I’ve seen many states make great strides toward this goal, but I acknowledge that there’s significant room for technological and process improvement in child support programs throughout the nation. In every state there are families whose child support needs are not being met and payments that are not being collected. At a national level, collections are flat-lining. It is time to identify – and take – the next steps in addressing our nation’s unmet child support needs. Three general areas where we can make strides toward reaching that objective include:
Standardization. The standardization, and sometimes even automation, of routine tasks – like procedures, forms, templates, employee performance plans, and training – allows staff to spend meaningful chunks of time on complex casework requiring their mindful judgment and personal interaction with customers.
Adoption of private-sector business practices. Strategic planning, business planning, and formal project management methodologies can be used to identify, prioritize, and implement new projects and initiatives. This allows more strategic decisions to be made about automation and outsourcing of certain services.
Partnerships. Strong partnerships are key: with the employer community to improve income withholding and new hire reporting; with workforce agencies to develop an employment program for noncustodial parents; with the Medicaid agency to improve medical support for children; and with hospitals, schools and community-based organizations to educate parents about the value of paternity establishment and child support services. Perhaps most importantly, we must encourage states to partner with their customers by creating a more family-centered approach to child support services.
During my time with the Texas Child Support Division, we implemented all three of these initiatives. For example, we relied heavily on metrics and business analytics to manage the casework. For every significant activity in the child support process, from case initiation to closure, we set goals and measured performance. Our partnerships also saw real results – from our access and visitation programs to fatherhood initiatives and asset-building services for both custodial and noncustodial parents. Key learnings like these can help other state child support programs make a significant leap in efficiency and effectiveness.
Alicia Key was IV-D Director for the Texas Child Support Division for almost 9 years and became vice president of Child Support Solutions for Xerox on Oct.2. She is proud of the child support accomplishments she oversaw in Texas and looks forward to contributing in a new and bigger way to the welfare of national child support programs.