The Voice of Child Support

Submitted by: Ross Hutchings, CAE, CSDA of CA Executive Director

What happens when you get 60+ child support professionals in one room for 2 ½ days? A lot of discussing, educating, thinking, disagreeing, pondering, ranting, explaining, cajoling, debating, inspecting, compromising, testing, and voting. We had all those actions at the 2016 Child Support Directors of CA Annual meeting in Riverside, CA.

I had the privilege of being the facilitator for our annual business meeting, which we spent a majority of the time doing strategic planning.

Our organization is based on our Core Values of Integrity, Collaborative, Progressive/Innovative, Commitment, Excellence, Unity, Courage, Respect, and Tolerance.  We will use these as our guiding principles throughout all our work within the organization.

Our Core Purpose, or the motivation behind what we do, is “To collaborate as a unified voice, transforming the lives of children.” This means that in order to move forward as an organization we must come together (collaborate) with one voice (find common ground and speak as one) so that our efforts will help transform the lives of children.

Our definitive Long-Rage Goal (sometimes called the BHAG – Big Hairy Audacious Goal) is to be “The voice of child support nationwide.” The discussion surrounding this was that we wanted our program to be so all-encompassing and successful in helping families provide for their children that we will be recognized and emulated throughout the country.

Having determined all the above, which together constitutes the organizational vision, we developed the CSDA Mission – “To educate, collaborate, and advocate in support of California’s families.” Our mission will be the litmus test for all our activities.

And as the last piece of our foundation, we developed our Brand Promise of being a “Coalition of Experts.” In other words, when we do anything, we want it to be by those who are expert in the field, imparting the best information possible.

This formulated the basis for the operational part of the plan. Once we know what our ultimate destination is (long-range goal) we began to focus on areas where we had the most challenges and/or opportunities. For 2017 (and beyond) the Directors came up with three platforms, goal(s) for each platform, and strategies for each goal. Here are the basics for our Operational Plan for 2017:

Platform of Advocacy


  • CSDA will educate stakeholders regarding issues that affect the child support program
  • Provide quantitative and qualitative information and analyses, using a variety of methods, formats and media, to child support professionals for use in educating stakeholders on the administration and delivery of child support services


  1. Develop strategies and share / publish on our website
  2. Determine who our stakeholders are and initiate building relationships
  3. Include DCSS

Top Issues for Advocacy

  • Presumed Income (40 to 30 hours/week)
  • Interest rate 10%
  • Explore strategies regarding how a IV-D Case be opened every time there is a private family law matter where children are involved

Platform on Training


  • CSDA will facilitate training, networking, and the sharing of ideas and best practices


  1. Expand the Leadership training
  2. Partner with DCSS to expand, enhance training
  3. Possible increased frequency of national legal college
  4. Explore Regional training programs
  5. Develop a mechanism to communicate LCSA training times and schedules

Platform of One Voice


  • Develop a method whereby CSDA can determine what the desire is of a majority of Directors on important issues


  1. Determine how to gage what items/issues rise to the level of needing discussing by full membership (Directors)
  2. Develop a mechanism to hold discussion/conversation with all Directors
  3. Decide what constitutes a consensus of opinion

Top Issues for One Voice

  • Dissenting views
  • What constitutes a Super Majority
  • Call-in/discussion capacity
  • Time-frames
  • LCSA Infrastructure Issues

Each of these goals, strategies, and issues have been assigned to various CSDA committees where they will develop Initiatives (action steps) to complete these. That will complete our 2017 Strategic Plan. But more importantly, it provides a roadmap for the organization so that we can remain focused on our goals and ultimately move us closer to our BHAG or destination.

Thank you to all those who participated in the planning session and to the various committees who will be diligently working on this plan. It is only by our working together and focusing our energies that we will be able to accomplish great things, which ultimately will benefit the children and families in California.