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Child Support Services

State Officials Honor an El Dorado County Department for its Child Support Efforts
Sacramento Bee, Sunday December 30, 2001

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The El Dorado County Department of Child Support Services has received $87,000 in incentive funds for ranking among the top 10 counties in a variety of performance categories in California.

During fiscal year 1999-2000, the department performed well above statewide averages in the establishment of paternity, cases with support orders established, collections on current child support, and collection of payment that were in arrears.

Laura Roth, department director, recently was presented with a commemorative plaque from Curtis Child, state director of Child Support Services.

"I want to acknowledge the outstanding achievements of these counties and congratulate them on their performance," Child said. In addition to El Dorado, other counties in the top 10 are Alameda, Amador, Colusa, Humboldt, Mariposa, Plumas, San Luis Obispo, Sierra and Sonoma.

Roth said she attributes her department's high ranking to dedicated staff members.

"It’s not just a job and a business to us. The services we provide are to people we care about,” Roth said from her office on Briw Road in Placerville.

She mentioned, for example, her employees' efforts during the holidays collecting food to stock area food banks.

El Dorado, She said, also is one of the few counties in the state that operates a district office in South Lake Tahoe in addition to a main office in Placerville.

Roth said she plans to use the incentive funds on video conferencing equipment, upgrading the department's computer system, and other services "to improve performance."

Based on data compiled for fiscal year 2000-2001, Roth said her department is once again exceeding the state average for performance. Collections, for example, increased by 8 percent, reaching an annual total of more than $13 million.

The accomplishments occurred despite some significant changes in the department's operation. In July of this year, the department separated from the district attorney’s office and a new department was created within the county.

The change was the result of a 1999 state law requiring counties to transfer staff members and operations from the district attorney to a separate agency by July 2002. A state Department of Child Support Services was created as well.

The law was designed to assure that California youngsters get their court-ordered support payments.

Another change this year was the department's conversion to a new automated case management system, Roth said.

In addition, 2001 featured the start of an outreach campaign, led by Nicole Hager, child support supervisor-ombudsman.

Roth said many people aren't aware of the free services her department provides. They include asking the court to require the noncustodial parent to provide health insurance for the child or children.

As part of her outreach effort, Hager said she has been advertising in area movie theatres and bus shelters, making public appearances at events like the El Dorado County Fair in Placerville and Kids Day in South Lake Tahoe, attending bimonthly public forums in conjunction with the courts and speaking to high school classes.

Hager is even handing out ice scrapers with the department’s name and phone number on them.

For more information about services offered by the El Dorado County Department of Child Support Services, call (530) 621-5600. Walter Yost wyost@sacbee.com or phone (530) 626-9162