Child Support Services Garners $87,000El Dorado Hills Telegraph, January 30, 2002
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It’s nice to be recognized when you are doing a good job, but adding a monetary reward to the recognition makes it doubly exciting. That’s just what Laura Roth, director of El Dorado County Child Support Services called the $87,000 garnered by her department for ranking among the top 10 counties in performance categories honored by the state of California. “It’s just very, very exciting,” enthused Roth. She is not sure yet what the extra funds will be spent on, but she is looking at purchasing video conferencing equipment which would be utilized in the department’s hearing room so clients who live on the eastern slope of the county could speak face-to-face with their case workers on the western slopes. Roth said she and her staff are still accepting input from the employees and will soon and a meeting to decide where to spend the funds given for 1999-2000 for performing well above state standards in the collection of child support, current and in arrears, and the establishment of paternity and helping get support orders. “We keep all the official records and help clients go through the court process that can be very intimidating and there are no fees charged for our services statewide,” she said. Roth’s department serves approximately 14,000 children in El Dorado County. “We currently have 9,200 cases,” she said, remarking that is was a significant number considering the smaller size of the county. Roth said the department helps individuals with the custodial care of a child figure out the many aspects of funding. “We can help establish legal parentage, secure medical support for children from both private and public agencies, forward insurance and legal forms for custodial parents and obtain orders for day care expenses along with other services,” she noted. “Last year, we collected over $13 million. Our services are paid for by the state and federal programs based on our collections, so this is money that doesn’t cost the county anything." Roth says she thinks they have been so effective because her whole department understands they are serving “their neighbors.” “Our clients are the clerk at the grocery store or the hair dresser,” she said. “These are people we know, so we are not just doing a job. What we do is close to us and our community.” She said the incentive money is nice, but it is not what motivates her and her co-workers to continue to perform so well. Roth says the government has given them a lot for tools in recent years to help collect funds that have been awarded for child support. In the past 14 years she has seized three Porsches, several Volvos, a number of Harley Davidsons, some Rolex watches and thousands of dollars as a result of court rulings. Her department was able to perform even though they underwent changes. In July of 2001, the department was separated from the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office and a new department was created. The move was made to comply with a state law handed down in 1999 requiring counties to transfer staff members and operations to their own agency by July 2002. The state created a department of Child Support Services as well. The law was put into effect to help California children get support payments previously approved in court. Roth says the department was also converted to an automatic case management system and they started a new outreach campaign under the direction of Nicole Hager. “We have an outreach program where we speak to kids in high school and to young adults,” explained Roth. “We try to get them to understand the costs involved in raising a child. We provide our services to both men and women who need assistance for child services. Sometimes it’s a grandparent or older sibling, anyone with the custodial care of a child.” For more information or to have Hager address a group, call Judie Wilson at (530) 621-5600.