Published May 17, 2016
Volume 24, Number 5

Alameda County Department of Child Support Services

Set for Growth

New Director Brings Strong Commitment to Community Engagement, Service

Phyllis Nance
Phyllis Nance, Director

By Jay Hipps

Since the turn of the century, the Alameda County Department of Child Support Services has seen a renewed focus on service and efficiency. Under new director Phyllis Nance, the 210 employees of the department, which has its offices on Gibraltar Drive in Hacienda, can expect to see continued growth in that direction.

“Our core services are to establish parentage, establish child support orders, financial obligations for parents, and to enforce those financial obligations,” says Nance.

Previously part of the district attorney’s office, the child support program was turned into a stand-alone department in 2000. “Over the course of the last 16 years, we've worked really hard to establish a customer service model that is more family-centric,” she says. “We are establishing child support orders and financial obligations, and that's usually not one of those happy moments in a person's life, but it is a necessary moment because we believe strongly that both parents have a financial responsibility to their children as well as an emotional responsibility.”

The legislated changes continued in 2008 when a federal mandate forced states to administer their child support programs on a centralized, statewide computer system. “This new computer system allowed us to see all of the cases within the state of California that the local child support offices were managing which then meant that even if your case was in, for example, Contra Costa County and you happen to live in Pleasanton, you could actually come here and we could talk to you about your case.”

Currently, the department works with approximately 31,000 families in Alameda County and collected close to $80 million in child support payments last year, a five percent increase in collections over the previous year. “When you're talking about fragile families — single parents who are trying to remain self-sufficient — that income is really important to them,” Nance says. “We are doing some really great work here in our department in our commitment to the families of Alameda County.”

Nance is looking to increase the department’s emphasis on community service and engagement. “I think in the future you're going to see the Alameda County Department of Child Support really be engaged within the various communities within Alameda County,” she says. “We are looking for partners within Alameda County, to find places where we can go to promote our message that child support is important and parents have an obligation to financially support their children. In that message, you will see that we're really making a difference for children. There are lots of stories that we want to share with the community about when children and families receive child support in the household, how that gives kids an advantage in terms of some of the extracurricular activities that they can accomplish as well as how that extra income every month means that food can be on the table for families who are struggling.”

Nance is looking for technology to play a role in raising the department’s profile. “We recognize that we won't be able to physically be everywhere but you should see more of our kiosks,” she says. “We're looking to use some technology so that we can do video conferencing with parents at locations that are closer to where they live and where they are active.”  

For additional information on the Alameda County Department of Child Support Services, access the agency’s web site at www.acdcss.org


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