Thursday, August 13, 2020

Self Care and Team Care in Isolation

By Shenandoah Chefalo, Faculty, The Center for Trauma Resilient Communities

[Editor’s note: The following article was originally published in the National Child Support Enforcement Association’s May 2020 issue of the Child Support CommuniQue (CSQ) and is reprinted with permission.]

Panic is a real feeling. Anxiety about the unknown is real. Recognizing our actual feelings is a good first step in understanding if we are in survival mode. This “survival brain” or trauma brain as we often refer to it, is a necessary and lifesaving auto response we have to real life threat. However, it can be sent into over-drive and then become our automatic response instead of our life-saving response. 

This “triggering” can have life-altering and sometimes deadly consequences. It’s impossible in a short article to rationally explain all the ways living in survival mode can affect you, but it has a broad range including migraines, rashes, hormonal imbalance, tiredness, digestive problems, tension, trouble focusing, insomnia - to even more severe illness. 

Flint Nonprofit InvolvedDad Works with Friend of the Court to Strengthen Families

By Shon Hart, Founder and Executive Director, InvolvedDad

Although it is sometimes a wearying fight, the moment a father can see, hold, and embrace his child for the very first time is worth every second. And, when the only thing standing in the way of a father and child’s relationship is helping him with his child support payment while he gets on his feet, it’s worth every penny. This is just one way that my organization serves fathers in the Flint area.

High Unemployment Benefit Impact to the Michigan Child Support Caseload During the Pandemic

By Paul Gehm, Management Analyst, SCAO Friend of the Court Bureau

“How can we help? What can we do?” Those were the first questions from many who work in the child support program as COVID-19 began to affect life in Michigan. We knew, at the beginning of all of this, that the impact to families would be great. Many immediately wanted to help families affected by COVID-19 and shutdowns, showing the passion and empathy they bring to their work (and the reason they do this work).

Since the onset of the pandemic, we continue to learn about how it is affecting child support program families. In Michigan, over 2 million people have filed new claims for unemployment benefits from the Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) since the first shutdown in early March. [1] More than 258,000 Michigan child support parties have filed claims. While the peak occurred in late March to early April, we are still seeing over 3,500 new claims from Michigan child support parties filed each week (as of the week ending July 25). For comparison, there were roughly 5,000 new claims per week from everyone in the state at this point last year.

Intergovernmental Corner: Highlights from Latest Border Conference

By Elizabeth Stomski, Management Analyst, Friend of the Court Bureau

Another great Biannual Border Conference was held last November. Over 150 federal, state, and local child support workers from eight states, one tribal nation, and the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) met for one and one-half days in Indiana to discuss the current state of intergovernmental case processing throughout the country. The participating jurisdictions were: Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Colorado, and the Ho-Chunk Nation. 

OCSE Region V map with star for regional office.
During the conference, each state had the opportunity to present a brief overview of its child support program and highlight any recent changes or large successes. The conference then conducted a session with intergovernmental case law updates covering cases across the country. Participants then worked through some difficult intergovernmental case processing scenarios with partners from other states to learn how each jurisdiction would handle the particular situation. The conference concluded with a federal update from OCSE. Most of the states at this Border Conference are a part of OCSE’s Region V, and the group was congratulated for being the first OCSE region that is fully up and running with the Electronic Document Exchange

Virtual Agency-Supervised Parenting Time – What’s Different?

By Amy Lindholm, Friend of the Court Bureau Management Analyst

We have all begun to adapt to a “new normal” since the coronavirus pandemic unfolded in Michigan in March of 2020. We wear masks when leaving our homes to protect each other. Restaurants have created new outdoor distanced seating arrangements. Many of us only see our work colleagues through video chats, and our family members and pets have become our new “coworkers.” For many families - especially those with high conflict, long distances between households, or family members who are ill - parenting time has also changed significantly.

This article will provide some tips and resources for “virtual” agency-supervised parenting time in friend of the court cases. For guidance regarding supervised visitation in foster care cases, please refer to the most recent Communication Issuance from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Children’s Services Agency.

Michigan’s Work in Behavioral Interventions – Recent and Future

By Julie Vandenboom, Program ReEngineering Specialist, Office of Child Support; and Carol Bealor, Director, Cass County Friend of the Court

In 2018, Michigan was invited to become a Behavioral Interventions in Child Support (BICS) Peer Learning Site. BICS was a five-year demonstration grant awarded to eight child support agencies across the country in 2014. Several states – including Michigan – and tribal IV-D programs that did not participate in the grant formed a cohort of Peer Learning Sites to develop, adapt, implement, and evaluate behavioral interventions to improve their own program operations. A behavioral intervention attempts to influence a desired activity or outcome by presenting choices based on how people make decisions. Readers can learn more about the basics of behavioral interventions from this previous Pundit article.

New Procedures for Friend of the Court Alternative Dispute Resolution

By Timothy Cole, Management Analyst, Friend of the Court Bureau

Last year the Michigan Supreme Court approved a Friend of the Court Alternative Dispute Resolution court rule (MCR 3.224) which took effect on January 1, 2020.  The court rule outlines procedures courts must follow – some new – when conducting friend of the court (FOC) alternative dispute resolution (ADR).  

Legal Corner - August 2020

 "The Legal Corner" provides a summary of recent Michigan Supreme Court and Michigan Court of Appeals decisions relevant to the child support program, as well as recently released state memoranda.



Contributions by Casey Peacock, Law Clerk, Friend of the Court Bureau

Friday, May 15, 2020

Chief Justice McCormack Announces Return of Pundit and Thanks FOC

Hello everyone,

On behalf of Michigan’s Supreme Court, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your public service and to offer a few words of encouragement during this health crisis.