Thursday, August 13, 2020
“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.  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.
|OCSE Region V map with star for regional office.|
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.
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.
"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.