Baby Assist Places of work Collaborate to Standardize Processes

The US Child Support Enforcement Office is collaborating with state child support offices and employers to standardize child support administrative processes, a federal child support official said March 22.

Child support officials attend workshops, conferences, and symposiums with employers to gather ideas and implement solutions that simplify the child support payroll process, said Sherri Grigsby, manager of the federal Child Support Enforcement Office’s Employer Services Team. Child support officials also discuss possible child support improvements with each other as members of the National Council of Child Support Directors.

“Employers make up by far the largest volume of getting income with holding orders implemented and child support paid across the United States,” said Corrine Flores, the wage garnishments government affairs director for ADP, LLC. “And so, really, the employer’s voice and their perspective is so important in the success of the child support program.”

Child support officials are focusing on improvements to lump sum reporting, employment verification, new hire reporting, the National Employer Database, and automation.

Lump Sum Reporting

Many employers have difficulties when reporting lump-sum payments because they are not aware of state-specific reporting requirements, Flores said at the American Payroll Association’s Capital Summit.

“Often times, employers don’t realize that there are these reporting requirements,” Grigsby added. “And it’s not every state. There are 19 states that have reporting requirements.”

Child support officials have created a Model Lump Sum Reporting Act that would make state lump-sum reporting requirements more uniform, Flores said.

No states have yet adopted the Model Lump Sum Reporting Act, Flores added.

OCSE also updated its child support portal so that employers can report lump-sum payments to all 54 states and territories in the United States, Grisgby said.

Child support officials are also considering modifications to lump-sum withholding rules and the timeframes for state child support offices to report back to employers after employers report lump-sum payments to the government, Grigsby said.

“We have come a long way with some of the challenges that we have faced with lump sum reporting, but we still have a long way to go,” Flores said.

Verification of Employment

OCSE has created a Standard Response to Verification of Employment form that employers can use instead of a state child support agency’s form to respond to verification of employment requests, Grigsby said.

The standard response form can help employers automate their payroll processes because they do not need to use state-specific versions of the form, Grigsby said.

New York was previously the only state to not adopt the form, but it will do so now, said Eileen Stack, deputy commissioner for New York’s Division of Child Support Services.

Child support offices hope that the standardized form will improve employer response rates, Stack said.

A primary reason for developing the standardized VOE form is to increase the employer compliance rate, Stack said. “I can tell you that we look at our statistics for 2020 and 2021, obviously different years in light of the pandemic, but the compliance rate is about 52%. So it’s been lower typically and not as high as we’d like to see.”

New Hire Reporting

Employers can struggle with new hire reporting due to the large number of state-specific requirements, Flores said, repeating that 19 states have lump-sum reporting requirements. Potentially, those lump-sum payments are going to independent contractors, she said.

While employees are paid out of payroll, independent contractors are generally paid out of accounts payable. Employers can improve their reporting compliance rates by improving collaboration between their payable accounts unit and their payroll unit, Grigsby said.

Creating a national reporting standard and updating new-hire reporting to specify whether a new hire is an employee or independent contractor are among the government solutions being considered, Flores said.

National Employer Database

Federal and state child support officials are discussing how to develop a national employer database where employers can submit their new hire and wage reporting data, Grigsby said.

“A national employer database is something that we’ve been talking about for several years with child support agencies,” Grigsby said. “There should be a single repository of information about employers.”

Employers currently report new hires to state new hire directories, Grigsby said. The states forward their information to the federal government.

The National Council of Child Support Directors created a workgroup subcommittee in February to develop recommendations for a national employer database, Grigsby said.

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