November 2018,  OneVoice CSDA Newsletter

Orange County Teen Parent Program

By Desiree Gonzalez, Staff Specialist, Orange County DCSS

Orange County Department of Child Support Services (OC CSS) is honored to have received the 2018 Challenge Award from the California State Association of Counties (CSAC) in the category of Government Finance, Administration & Technology for our Teen Parent Program. The Teen Parent Program performs one-on-one specialized outreach to minor parents under the age of 18 with the goal of setting a foundation of success for the life of the case.

OC CSS implemented the program in November 2016 as an early intervention strategy to address the unique needs of this fragile population by initiating contact, educating, and engaging parents (i.e. minor fathers and mothers) early in the process by offering resources and forming trusting relationships. The Teen Parent Program Team is comprised of a care coordinator and attorney dedicated to providing one-on-one specialized care and education by ‘getting to know the family and their needs,’ providing resources, sharing information about the child support process, preparing and assisting customers with court hearings, and assisting customers after an order is obtained by agreement or in court.

The program resulted from a multi-disciplinary workgroup consisting of program experts from Legal Services, Attorney, Case Management, Research and Policy Teams. Experts discussed and examined topics including the demographics of minor parent population (e.g. paternity status, public assistance status, and employment status), genetic testing requirements and limitations, legal and business practice aspects, and proposed workflows.

At the time the program was implemented in November 2016 there were 16 cases in the caseload; the caseload has since increased to 64 cases. Results of this caseload include:

  • Twenty-nine cases resolved with 10 of these cases including a monthly child support judgment.
  • Eleven cases have zero set as the monthly support child obligation; zero was set as parties are in a current relationship and support is not needed, parent incarcerated, full-time high school student, in a court ordered program.
  • One case had a Judgment of Non-Paternity entered.
  • Seven customers requested genetic testing services.

The remaining cases have non-custodial parents who have not yet reached the age of 18. Customers are contacted at intervals of 30 days, 60 days, and 180 days prior to turning 18 to begin engagement, education, offer resources, and form a relationship well in advance of the filing of a complaint by CSS.

Our innovative approach in assisting this fragile population of teen parents with resources beyond child support is consistent with our core values and supports our vision of partnering with parents to achieve family self-sufficiency. The project has had a positive impact in the delivery of services to the public with the early engagement of teen parents and their new families.