On September 6-7, 2017, the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) Region 9 hosted our second annual Child Support Idea Lab in San Francisco. Six states and seven counties brainstormed innovative ideas to improve program performance and increase opportunities for child support families.
Most of the meeting was spent in small groups discussing different topics. It was fast-paced, as folks rotated among four tables every 25 minutes, giving each participant a chance to engage peer to peer on new approaches. We did this twice, so there were a total of eight topics covered. OCSE staff or a state representative facilitated each table to frame the topic and keep the conversation moving. Everyone had an individual schedule for the day directing them to tables for each session. We mixed the table groups each time, so people had a chance to be with most, if not all, participants.
The sessions were an opportunity to focus on one topic and brainstorm new ideas or hear other approaches on that subject. We shared experiences about what has or hasn’t worked. Twenty-five minutes flies quickly, so the purpose wasn’t to go into too much detail, but rather to think big and broad no matter how unusual or seemingly impractical. The tables had post-it notes and colored pens for people to jot down ideas and thoughts, and we filled flip chart paper with the post-it notes.
We covered these eight topics:
- Improving interactions with parents / customer service
- Coordinating services with other agencies and programs
- Intergovernmental case processing
- Adopting principles of behavioral economics
- Improving program operations and case management
- Using data to inform our program
- The federal Flexibility, Efficiency, and Modernization Final Rule
- Adopting principles of procedural justice
On the second day, an Economist from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) joined us and presented data on the labor market and the economy. He highlighted national trends, as well as data, specifically related to the Idea Lab participants’ jurisdictions.
This was OCSE Region 9’s second Idea Lab, so we also spent time discussing what ideas from last year’s lab had been explored and perhaps implemented during the year. Projects included renaming staff positions, incorporating domestic violence protocols and training, starting discussions with local SNAP agencies, reaching out to school districts, creating internships for social welfare graduate students, exploring data analysis by zip code, and offering virtual legal clinics.
Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Texas, and Washington state agencies and the counties of Clark (Nevada), Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, and San Diego participated in the event.
We are exploring potential webinars in the coming year to dig deeper into topics that were of interest to the group.
For more information, please contact Rachel Freitas at firstname.lastname@example.org or (415) 437-8408.