California’s newly inaugurated Governor, Gavin Newsom released his proposed 2019-2020 state budget on January 10. The budget includes an additional $56.5 million ($19.1 million state general funds and $36.9 million in Federal Financial Participation) for local child support administrative costs.
The increase is the first year of a three-year phased-in addition using a new funding methodology developed through a joint effort of the Child Support Directors Association and the State Department of Child Support Services (DCSS). The new funds are intended to be allocated to 21 LCSAs with the highest case-to-employee ratios of all Local Child Support Agencies (LCSAs) in the state. Those LCSAs include: Alameda, Contra Costa, Fresno, Glenn, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Madera, Merced, Monterey, Placer, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Joaquin, Solano, Stanislaus, Tehama, and Ventura.
The funding methodology is backed by the findings of a Level of Effort study conducted by the Association with the participation of the State Department. That Level of Effort study suggests a workload of 188 child support cases for each full-time employee in an LCSA. This new funding methodology uses that case ratio multiplied by the average cost of an employee to determine a starting funding amount for each LCSA and then builds in funding for call centers, as well as allocations for Operating Expenses and Equipment.
Using the methodology, Local Child Support Agencies that have current funding levels below expected funding would receive an increase in their annual state allocation. No LCSA is expected to lose funding in this methodology. If current funding of an LCSA is above the expected funding based on the case ratio, average employee cost and other aspects of the methodology, that LCSA’s funding would stay constant in the coming year.
This methodology is thought to be a highly nimble and easily updated method. It is expected that future year’s funding will be easily determined once an LCSA’s caseload and average employee cost is known. The methodology also provides the ability of the State Department to approach the Legislature with local program funding increases without having to do extensive program reviews or cost analysis.
The total proposed 2019-20 child support program budget is $1.095 billion ($339 million General Fund, $756 million federal and recovery funds). This is a $61 million increase over the 2018-2019 state budget. The $1.095 billion funding is for both State operations and local program operations.
Other funding highlights in the 2019-2020 proposed budget include:
- $4,041,000 increase for state employee compensation adjustments.
- $709,000 increase for costs related to the implementation of a new parentage program pursuant to Assembly Bill 2684.
- $678,000 increase (100% federal funds) for Section 1115 Federal Grants.
- $401,000 increase for federal performance basic incentives.
- $287,000 decrease for a reduction in the Statewide Cost Allocation Plan (SWCAP)
- $119,000 decrease due to the removal of one-time costs for implementation of Publication 1075 requirements
- $9,000 decrease (100% General Fund) for the Deficit Reduction Act Mandatory Fee assessment.
A collections estimate analysis by DCSS suggests an increase of about $246,000 (0.1%) in assistance collections and an increase of $58 million (2.8%) in non-assistance collections, for an estimated combined increase of nearly $59 million over the previous year.