August is Child Support Awareness Month. The California Department of Child Support Services theme for 2018 is: “They Don’t Need Perfect, They Just Need You.” This August, the Sacramento County Department of Child Support Services (“Sacramento County DCSS”) would like to recognize parents who support their children in every way. As parenting coach Sue Atkins says, “There is no such thing as a perfect parent, so just be a real one."
Sacramento County DCSS encourages parents to collaborate with their staff to gain understanding regarding child support establishment, modification and enforcement. Children benefit financially and emotionally from the participation of both parents. Financially, a parent’s support can provide housing, food, health insurance, transportation, day care, and for extra-curricular activities. Emotionally, a parent’s active involvement in their child support case can improve a child’s feeling of stability and peace of mind.
The Sacramento County DCSS staff are available to assist both parents paying support and parents receiving support with all aspects of the child support process. In the last federal fiscal year, Sacramento County DCSS staff have managed over 76,000 cases and collected over $119 million in support.
To recognize and celebrate parents for Child Support Awareness Month this year, Sacramento County DCSS Caseworker Janae K. interviewed obligor Vinny V. regarding his experience throughout his child support case, which opened in 2013. He described himself as closeminded and in denial when his case first opened. Over time, his mindset changed and he has been able to successfully manage his case ever since, which has led to a positive co-parenting relationship with his child's mother. He encourages others to “take a leap of faith" and collaborate with Sacramento County DCSS on their cases. Here is his story:
Question: What was your initial reaction to being served?
Answer: I was happy that at least things were moving forward. [It gave me] an opportunity to show that in some way, shape, or form I can take care of my daughter. At that time, I didn't have any custody or visitation, so I was hoping child support would help the relationship with my child's mother.
Question: In what ways do you wish you had received more support or guidance?
Answer: In the beginning, a lot of my questions were about where the money was going and how it was being spent. Now I understand that that doesn't really matter as long as my child is being taken care of. It's great that [Sacramento County DCSS can] help us as parents avoid the constant debate and power play that goes with money.
Question: What would you tell a parent who thinks his or her child support order is unfair for some reason, such as not being able to see the child or afford the order?
Answer: Take a leap of faith – this works! At first I wanted immediate results, but it doesn't work that way. Life doesn't work that way. When I finally put my faith in the system, I started to understand that this is not for the parents, but for the kids. [Sacramento County DCSS] is automatically the enemy because [it is] taking licenses away and attaching wages, but I learned [Sacramento County] DCSS isn't trying to take sides. They're just there to do what's best for the child. Take a leap of faith.
Question: How has managing your child support case successfully changed your life for the better?
Answer: I have a much better relationship with my daughter's mom now. When you're trying to convince the opposing side that you're serious…, you've got to put your money where your mouth is. When [Sacramento County DCSS] makes sure the payment is made every month on time, then the other person can't argue with that, they don't have a leg to stand on. When [my daughter's mom] saw that I was paying on time every month and offering her more beyond that, that made her a believer. She could see I changed my ways.
Question: Do you have any tips for working with Sacramento County DCSS to get through challenges?
Answer: Honesty, willingness and open-mindedness. A lot of people are in denial about their situation with the [other parent] and you've got to get honest with yourself about what happened and why you have to pay this money now. [Being] open-minded [lets you] see that child support is for your child, it's not a weapon used by your ex to get at you.
Sacramento County DCSS provides the following benefits to those who open a child support case:
- Research to locate absent parents
- Establishment of parentage, including free genetic testing when appropriate
- Customer education regarding court processes, calculation of child support, and child support enforcement actions
- Accurate accounting
- Automated enforcement, including wage garnishment, tax intercepts, liens, and license suspension
- Modification of child support orders when appropriate
- Preparing stipulations for court approval when the parents agree upon a support amount
To contact the Sacramento County Department of Child Support Services:
- Website: www.DCSS.SacCounty.net
- (866) 901-3212
- 3701 Power Inn Road, Sacramento, CA (across the street from the Family Law courthouse
- Open 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday - Friday (except holidays)