Tribal News: Washington State Division of Child Support
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Division of Child Support

Tribes Operating Child Support Programs Under Direct Federal Funding

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunities Act of 1996 gives authority for Indian Tribes to operate direct funded child support enforcement programs. However, it wasn't until August 21, 2000, that the Department of Health and Human Services published a Notice of Proposed Rule Making and an Interim Final Rule that finally allowed tribes to submit Child Support Enforcement (CSE) plans and, upon approval, implement tribally operated programs.

The Puyallup Tribe became the first tribe in the State of Washington to implement a direct federally funded child support program, effective October 1, 2001. They enacted the Puyallup Parental Responsibility Act and included the following policy statement in the Puyallup CSE Plan:

"Our children are the most vital resources to the continued existence and integrity of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians. Therefore, the Tribe has a compelling interest in promoting and maintaining the health and well being of all Puyallup children. By establishing a Child Support Enforcement Program (Agency) the Puyallup Tribe has reaffirmed Puyallup customs and traditions that recognize that both parents are obliged to provide support for their children as their respective income, resources and ability allows."

The success of the implementation thus far, is the result of the close working relationship that was developed by the Puyallup program staff and the Washington State Division of Child Support (DCS) staff. We knew there would be new processes and procedures, but realized it was more important to first establish a relationship based on trust, said Sarah Neyhart, DCS Tribal Unit Supervisor, Region 5. Over the last six months both teams, with the help of the ESA State Tribal Relations Unit (STRU), have developed operational procedures and policies. The DCS team will take all of the knowledge gained from working with the Puyallup Tribe, to help in the implementation of the recently approved Port Gamble S'Klallam Child Support Program.

Key Components of Tribal Direct Federally Funded Child Support Programs:

Tribal programs may vary from tribe to tribe. However, they must each provide the five following services:
  • Paternity Establishment
  • Support Order Establishment
  • Modification
  • Enforcement
  • Location of Non-custodial Parents.
Under the Interim Rule, Tribes must submit a complete CSE Program Plan to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service, Office of Child Support Enforcement. The Plan must include:
  • A service population description;
  • Procedures for accepting application for services and for making referrals to other agencies;
  • Copies of Tribal Codes;
  • Assurances of protections for due process rights and safeguarding procedures;
  • Administrative and management procedures including records management;
  • Procedures for provision of child support services:
  • Performance targets for these services; and
  • A program budget.

What is the Relationship Between the Division of Child Support and Tribal CSE Programs?

Program Status Tribes with approved Direct Federally Funded CSE programs:
  • Puyallup Tribe
  • Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe
Tribes with CSE program plans submitted to Health and Human Services:
  • Lummi Nation
Operational Relationship
  • DCS works with the tribes in a government-to-government fashion similar as it does with other State IV-D programs and CSE programs in other countries and territories.
  • Quarterly meetings are held between the tribes and DCS, STRU, and OCSE to discuss program planning, implementation and coordination.
  • DCS and each tribe develop agreed-upon procedures and processes to coordinate CSE services for all Washington State parents and children.
  • Policy details will be published through the DCS Canary Notices.
  • Additional Information: Contact Mary Hanneman at 360-413-3210 hannemb@dshs.wa.gov