By Sharon Wardale-Trejo,
Director, Merced/Mariposa Regional DCSS
Welcome to the Child Support Directors Association’s (CSDA) inaugural newsletter! It is my pleasure, as the CSDA Board of Directors President, to write an article highlighting recent accomplishments of our professional association and lay the foundation of where we’re going.
These past 18 months have seen considerable change and growth for our Association. With the departure of our long time Executive Director, David Oppenheim, we felt a void and struggled with our Association’s identity and role. Last November, we spent the majority of our time during the Annual Director’s Meeting having meaningful discussion about what mattered to us, as an Association, and how we, the membership, wanted CSDA to represent us.
We identified several core areas of importance for CSDA to focus on. First, we developed a communication plan to create a mechanism for communicating with our state oversight agency, California Department of Child Support Services (CADCSS). Following this plan, we have begun having meetings with State Executive staff, and I am optimistic these meetings will create more open communication and foster a stronger partnership with CADCSS.
A key point of the communication plan was the concept of one voice, presenting a unified message and supporting each other in conveying that message. The concept of one voice is entirely new for us and it will require practice. As we all know with any change, we will have set backs and sometimes fail at doing it well, but our ultimate goal is to ensure we speak with a unified message and support each other. It took great courage to identify this as one of our core areas and will take even greater courage to perform it well. Therefore, we must all stay committed to this effort and continue to hone this new skill.
At the same time, we also identified advocacy as a core area for CSDA and we created the Advocacy Workgroup. This group has been working diligently to identify the scope of our advocacy activities to help membership educate stakeholders and also establish the role for CSDA to advocate on behalf of membership with the California DCSS. During the November 2017 Annual Director’s Meeting, we will continue this effort, developing a platform for the workgroup and CSDA to focus its effort on.
Along the lines of advocacy and educating stakeholders, we will be hosting our third Policy Symposium on March 1, 2017 at the Hilton Arden West in Sacramento. This year’s event will focus on educating policy-makers, child support professionals and partnering agencies on child well-being, the impacts of various trauma-causing events and potential solutions in which the child support program can play a role.
We continue to identify training as a core area of importance for CSDA. The primary focus for training continues to be our Annual Child Support Training Conference & Expo, Legal College and Leadership Institute, but we are exploring opportunities to expand trainings offered in the upcoming year. So, keep watching for upcoming training events as we work to provide additional professional development to our child support professionals.
Recently, our Association brought Ross Hutchings on board as the new Executive Director. With over 30 years Association experience, Ross is introducing a number of exciting new strategies to engage external partners and expand CSDA’s role in our community. He is fully engaged and energized, eager to move our Association onward and upward. In November, Ross will be leading us through a strategic planning exercise to outline goals for the upcoming years. We are looking forward to the Association blossoming under his guidance and stewardship.
I am very optimistic about our Association’s future and how we will support each other along the way. We have exciting things coming up on the horizon and I am eager for the journey ahead and making this journey with each and every one of you!