Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to DSHS Economic Services Administration's Frequently Asked Questions!

The plan administrator or employer may complete the Washington State Addendum to Box 2 of Part B - Plan Administrator Response or provide any preprinted information that provides the insurance information. DCS needs the insurance company name, address, telephone number, and the employee's policy or member number, and group number. For federal audit purposes, DCS must have the employee's insurance information in the DCS case files.

DCS uses a Conference Board to resolve grievances when an administrative hearing is unavailable. Child support laws are very complex and sometimes inflexible. If you feel aggrieved by a DCS action or dissatisfied with an employee, please read the following. It may explain why DCS took an action on your case.

Federal law requires that some actions be taken on child support cases without the involvement of Support Enforcement Officers. These "automated actions" may include IRS certification, credit bureau reporting, and passport denial. Federal law requires that DCS file a lien on all back support debts. Support orders must contain immediate wage withholding language. DCS must initiate immediate wage withholding no later than 3 days after receiving the support order. If the support order requires a delinquency before enforcement, DCS must initiate income withholding no later than 15 days from date the payment was due.


Despite recent record improvements in paternity establishment and child support collections, much more needs to be done to ensure that all children born out-of-wedlock have paternity established and that all non-custodial parents provide financial support for their children. Currently, only about one-half of the custodial parents due child support receive full payment. About twenty-five percent receive partial payment and twenty-five percent receive nothing.

In an effort to strengthen and improve state child support enforcement activities, several federal laws were passed, including a national new-hire reporting system. These laws required states to pass uniform interstate child support laws, automate enforcement actions, and provide for tougher noncompliance penalties, such as driver's license revocation.

  • A Medical support obligation includes the following:
    • Health insurance coverage, and
    • Cash medical support (RCW 26.09.105), which consists of:
      • A parent's monthly payment toward the premium paid for coverage by either the other parent or the state, which represents the obligated parent's proportionate share of the premium paid, but not more than twenty-five percent of the obligated parent's basic support obligation; and
      • A parent's proportionate share of uninsured medical expenses.
  • Under appropriate circumstances, the order may excuse one parent from the responsibility to provide health insurance coverage or the monthly payment toward the premium.
  • The order must always require both parents to contribute their proportionate shares of uninsured medical expenses.

If you still have questions, contact your support enforcement officer at the phone number listed on the last page of the notice you received. If you are not sure which office handles your case, call the KIDS line at 1-800-442-KIDS (5437).

A Payment Services Only (PSO) case is a case which is set up when a child support order is entered that requires all child support payments be made to the Washington State Support Registry (WSSR). No collection actions will be taken to enforce the order. A PSO case is only set up to process voluntary payments and provide a permanent record of payments made through our system.

Once a refugee is granted permission to come to the U.S. and granted a legal immigration status, voluntary resettlement agencies called "VOLAG's" are contracted for initial resettlement. The VOLAG is responsible for meeting and picking up the refugee at the airport; finding a place to live; and helping with basic necessities and cultural orientation within the first 90 days of the refugee being in the U.S. Click here for a list of the VOLAG's that resettle refugees in Washington State.

An Administrative Hearing is a process that can be initiated any time a client disagrees with an action taken by the Department. Some examples of hearing issues include but are not limited to; terminations, reductions in benefits, assignment of a protective payee, overpayments or denial of benefits. A hearing can be requested in person, by phone, or in writing using Request for Hearing (DSHS Form 05-013). If you need to cancel your Administrative Hearing you may use Fair Hearing Withdrawal (DSHS Form 02-528).

If you receive cash or food assistance, you will be issued an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) Card. This card is also called a "Quest Card". You use this card like a debit card to purchase items at stores. You will need to know your 4 digit PIN (Personal Identification Number) to use your card. You will be given a detailed booklet describing how to use your card when you are approved for benefits. Follow this link for more information: EBT - Make Getting Benefits Easier.

Child Support is money which an absent parent is ordered to pay on a regular basis to help support the cost of raising his or her child.

You must have a child support case and help DCS when you get TANF or medical assistance. But, if you are victim of domestic violence and you believe receiving child support services will put you or your child in danger, you may have a good reason why you do not want child support services.

DSHS calls this reason "good cause" or "good cause not to cooperate with DCS."

Human Trafficking is a form of modern day slavery. It includes the recruitment, transportation, or sales of persons for labor. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 defines severe forms of trafficking as:

  • Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; or
  • The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

Anyone can be a victim of human trafficking. Traffickers use force, fraud and coercion to compel women, men, and children to engage in commercial sex or forced labor. Many victims trafficked into the U.S. do not speak and understand English and are therefore isolated and unable to communicate with service providers, law enforcement, and others who might be able to help them.

Noncompliance is the failure of a person, business, or other entity to take action as required by an inquiry, subpoena, or income-withholding instrument issued by any state's child support enforcement agency.

Noncompliance is the failure to:

  • Respond to an inquiry from a child support enforcement agency.

  • Comply with a subpoena issued by a child support enforcement agency.

  • Return the Answer to an income-withholding instrument or notice of enrollment.

  • Withhold support required under a lien or an income-withholding instrument. The party is liable for either the amount that should have been withheld, or for the debt amount on an Order to Withhold and Deliver, whichever is less.

  • Remit withheld support monies to the child support enforcement agency.

  • Enroll children in an available medical plan required under a Notice of Enrollment.

  • Report a new hired employee.


Despite recent record improvements in paternity establishment and child support collections, much more needs to be done to ensure that all children born out-of-wedlock have paternity established and that all non-custodial parents provide financial support for their children. Currently, only about one-half of the custodial parents due child support receive full payment. About twenty-five percent receive partial payment and twenty-five percent receive nothing.

In an effort to strengthen and improve state child support enforcement activities, several federal laws were passed, including a national new-hire reporting system. These laws required states to pass uniform interstate child support laws, automate enforcement actions, and provide for tougher noncompliance penalties, such as driver's license revocation.

DCS uses an informal proceeding called a conference board to resolve customer complaints or grievances.

  • If you feel aggrieved by a DCS action or dissatisfied with an employee, first contact your support enforcement officer (SEO).
  • If you can't resolve the issue, you can request a conference board.

For more information, see the rules governing conference boards in WAC 388-14A-6400 and following. In addition, DCS has a brochure entitled Child Support Conference Boards. You can get the brochure from your DCS office.


If you still have questions, contact your support enforcement officer at the phone number listed on the last page of the notice you received. If you are not sure which office handles your case, call the KIDS line at 1-800-442-KIDS (5437).

Once a final administrative child support order is entered, the current child support and health insurance and medical requirements continue each month until one of the following occurs:

  • A state or tribal court order supersedes the order.
  • The order is modified under WAC 388-14A-3925. The noncustodial parent, custodial parent, physical custodian, or DCS may petition for modification of a child support order.
  • The later of a child's 18th birthday or graduation from a secondary school program or the same level of vocational or technical training, if the child is a full-time student and has not reached age nineteen (19). If the child will not graduate by his or her 19th birthday, child support stops at the end of the month containing the child's 19th birthday.
  • A child is emancipated, marries, or becomes a member of the United States armed forces.
  • A child or the noncustodial parent dies.
  • The parties to the order marry or remarry each other, as provided in WAC 388-14A-3100(3).

If you still have questions, contact your support enforcement officer at the phone number listed on the last page of the notice you received. If you are not sure which office handles your case, call the KIDS line at 1-800-442-KIDS (5437).

Federal Law

DEFICIT REDUCTION ACT OF 2005 120 STAT. 148 PUBLIC LAW 109-171-FEB. 8, 2006 SEC. 7310. MANDATORY FEE FOR SUCCESSFUL CHILD SUPPORT COLLECTION FOR FAMILY THAT HAS NEVER RECEIVED TANF.

(a) In General- Section 454(6)(B) (42 U.S.C. 654(6)(B)) is amended--
(1) by inserting `(i)' after `(B)';
(2) by re-designating clauses (i) and (ii) as subclauses (I) and
(II), respectively;
(3) by adding `and' after the semicolon; and
(4) by adding after and below the end the following new clause:
`(ii) in the case of an individual who has never received assistance under a State program funded under part A and for whom the State has collected at least $500 of support, the State shall impose an annual fee of $25 for each case in which services are furnished, which shall be retained by the State from support collected on behalf of the individual (but not from the first $500 so collected), paid by the individual applying for the services, recovered from the absent parent, or paid by the State out of its own funds (the payment of which from State funds shall not be considered as an administrative cost of the State for the operation of the plan, and the fees shall be considered income to the program);'.
(b) Conforming Amendments- Section 457(a)(3) (42 U.S.C. 657(a)(3)) is amended to read as follows:
`(3) FAMILIES THAT NEVER RECEIVED ASSISTANCE- In the case of any other family, the State shall distribute to the family the portion of the amount so collected that remains after withholding any fee pursuant to section 454(6)(B)(ii).'.
(c) Effective Date- The amendments made by this section shall take
effect on October 1, 2006.

State of Washington Law

Section 5 of SSB 5244 (Chapter 143, Laws of 2007):

Sec.5. RCW 74.20.040 and 1997 c 58 s 891 are each amended to read as follows:
(1) Whenever the department receives an application for public assistance on behalf of a child, the department shall take appropriate action under the provisions of this chapter, chapter 74.20A RCW, or other appropriate statutes of this state to establish or enforce support obligations against the parent or other persons owing a duty to pay support moneys.
(2) The secretary may accept a request for support enforcement services on behalf of persons who are not recipients of public assistance and may take appropriate action to establish or enforce support obligations against the parent or other persons owing a duty to pay moneys. Requests accepted under this subsection may be conditioned upon the payment of a fee as required by subsection (6) of this section or through regulation issued by the secretary. The secretary may establish by regulation, reasonable standards and qualifications for support enforcement services under this subsection.
(3) The secretary may accept requests for support enforcement services from child support enforcement agencies in other states operating child support programs under Title IV-D of the social security act or from foreign countries, and may take appropriate action to establish and enforce support obligations, or to enforce subpoenas, information requests, orders for genetic testing, and collection actions issued by the other agency against the parent or other person owing a duty to pay support moneys, the parent or other person's employer, or any other person or entity properly subject to child support collection or information-gathering processes. The request shall contain and be accompanied by such information and documentation as the secretary may by rule require, and be signed by an authorized representative of the agency. The secretary may adopt rules setting forth the duration and nature of services provided under this subsection.
4) The department may take action to establish, enforce, and collect a support obligation, including performing related services, under this chapter and chapter 74.20A RCW, or through the attorney general or prosecuting attorney for action under chapter 26.09, 26.18, 26.20, 26.21A, or 26.26 RCW or other appropriate statutes or the common law of this state. (5) Whenever a support order is filed with the Washington state support registry under chapter 26.23 RCW, the department may take appropriate action under the provisions of this chapter, chapter 26.23 or 74.20A RCW, or other appropriate law of this state to establish or enforce the support obligations contained in that order against the responsible parent or other persons owing a duty to pay support moneys. (6) The secretary, in the case of an individual who has never received assistance under a state program funded under part A and for whom the state has collected at least five hundred dollars of support, shall impose an annual fee of twenty-five dollars for each case in which services are furnished, which shall be retained by the state from support collected on behalf of the individual, but not from the first five hundred dollars of support. The secretary may, on showing of necessity, waive or defer any such fee or cost. (7) Fees, due and owing, may be retained from support payments directly or collected as delinquent support moneys utilizing any of the remedies in chapter 74.20 RCW, chapter 74.20A RCW, chapter 26.21A RCW, or any other remedy at law or equity available to the department or any agencies with whom it has a cooperative or contractual arrangement to establish, enforce, or collect support moneys or support obligations. (8) The secretary may waive the fee, or any portion thereof, as a part of a compromise of disputed claims or may grant partial or total charge off of said fee if the secretary finds there are no available, practical, or lawful means by which said fee may be collected or to facilitate payment of the amount of delinquent support moneys or fees owed.
(9) The secretary shall adopt rules conforming to federal laws, including but not limited to complying with section 7310 of the federal deficit reduction act of 2005, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 654, and rules and regulations required to be observed in maintaining the state child support enforcement program required under Title IV-D of the federal social security act. The adoption of these rules shall be calculated to promote the cost-effective use of the agency's resources and not otherwise cause the agency to divert its resources from its essential functions.


IMPORTANT NOTICE TO CUSTODIANS RECEIVING IV-D CHILD SUPPORT SERVICES:

Beginning October 1, 2007, federal law provides that certain child support cases are subject to a $25 fee each year. Washington law provides that this fee will be paid by the custodial parent. The $25 fee will be withheld from child support payments that are made on the case, but only after $500 in child support has been disbursed to the family between October 1 and September 30 (the federal fiscal year), and only if the custodial parent has never received TANF, Tribal TANF or AFDC on behalf of a child.

If you have questions, or would like additional information about the $25 fee please refer to the following links, or call the KIDS general information line at 1-800-442-KIDS.

The Notice and Finding of Financial Responsibility (NFFR) is a notice that the Division of Child Support (DCS) uses to establish an administrative child support obligation. This page provides information about the Notice and Finding of Financial Responsibility. If you received a NFFR and still have questions after reading the information below, contact the Division of Child Support (DCS) at the phone numbers listed on the last page of the notice you received. If you are not sure which DCS office handles your case, call the KIDS line at 1-800-442-KIDS (5437).

In the state of Washington, the Office of Fraud and Accountability has delegated authority to conduct investigations related to allegations of fraud within programs administered by the Department of Social and Health Services. Investigations focus on Welfare eligibility issues and Vendor Fraud. Investigators coordinate with staff at the Community Services Offices statewide; with county prosecutors; and with local, state, federal, and international law enforcement agencies when necessary.


Washington State Welfare Fraud Hotline: 1-800-562-6906

OFA investigates Welfare Fraud in the state of Washington. The word Welfare is used to include: Public Assistance programs and benefits; food stamps; Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); Quest card, which is used for Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT); and Childcare benefits.

For additional questions or if you are Law Enforcement, you can leave a message, and your call will be returned within 24 hours at 360-664-5505.

When the employee's principal place of employment is Washington State, the priority of withholding is current support first, the health insurance premium second, and past-due support last. When the employee's principal place of employment is not Washington State, the employer will have to contact the child support agency in that state for priority information.

The Refugee Act of 1980 created The Federal Refugee Resettlement Program to provide for the effective resettlement of refugees and to assist them to achieve economic self-sufficiency as quickly as possible after arrival in the U.S. Title IV, Chapter 2 of the Immigration and Nationality Act contains the provisions of the Refugee Act.

 

The U.S. government allows a certain number of refugees to come to the U.S. each year. Individuals granted refugee status overseas by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security are brought to the U.S. for resettlement by the U.S. Department of State. Voluntary agencies - VOLAG's and the Office of Refugee Resettlement - ORR  assist refugees with resettlement and integration into the U.S. Refugees are eligible to receive ORR benefits and services for up to five years beginning the first day they arrive in the U.S.

The Office of Fraud and Accountability (OFA) also has the authority to investigate Vendor Fraud. A Vendor is a person or entity that has a legal contract with the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to provide goods or services to DSHS or its clients. Sometimes these individuals or companies overcharge or bill for services not provided.

You can report Vendor Fraud by:

  • Faxing your written complaint to: ATTN: Vendor Fraud at 360-664-0032.
  • Mailing your written complaint to:  OFA Vendor Fraud, P.O. Box 45817, Olympia, Washington 98504-5817.

Washington State Welfare Fraud Hotline: 1-800-562-6906

OFA investigates Welfare Fraud in the state of Washington. The word Welfare is used to include: Public Assistance programs and benefits; food stamps; Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); Quest card, which is used for Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT); and Childcare benefits.

For additional questions or if you are Law Enforcement, you can leave a message, and your call will be returned within 24 hours at 360-664-5505.