SD42 - Interim Report: Child Support Enforcement

Executive Summary:
Senate Joint Resolution 553 of the 1999 General Assembly Session directed the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) to evaluate the caseload, management, employment levels, and workload of the Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE), including the district offices. DCSE is the largest division in the Department of Social Services in terms of staff and budget, and is responsible for collecting and enforcing child support in the State. DCSE serves over one-fourth of Virginia's children and its caseload comprises over 400,000 cases. DCSE is funded primarily with federal funds, and in the past generated a revenue surplus for the State.

This review is being conducted in two phases. The first phase includes a review of the child support enforcement caseload and funding of the child support enforcement program. The second phase review, which will be completed in 2000, will examine the child support enforcement program in more detail, and will address issues such as local implementation of the program, automation, and adequacy of staffing levels.

This first phase of the study found that DCSE's caseload size per caseworker, while substantial, may be somewhat overstated, because some cases can be closed or excluded from the caseload figure due to minimal work activity. DCSE should make analyzing and cleaning the statewide caseload a priority in order to accurately reflect the general workload of the division staff, as well as to arrive at an accurate figure for calculating the amount of incentive funding the State could receive.

This study also found that the dramatic decline in the welfare caseload and several federal changes are causing DCSE, for the first time, to experience a budget deficit and increased budget instability. The report identifies several options that the State has for addressing the projected budget deficit. In the short term, the General Assembly may wish to replace the lost federal funding with a general fund appropriation.