Hochul issues proclamation recognizing New York’s child support program for playing vital role in lives of more than 525,000 youth statewide
The New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance and Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence recognized Child Support Awareness Month in August by announcing listening sessions in two upstate counties to gather input on how to make the child support process safer for domestic violence survivors. The agencies are in the first year of coordinating a federally funded pilot program – the Safe Access for Victims’ Economic Security (SAVES) demonstration – to develop and test new approaches to ensure all New Yorkers can safely pursue child support.
“As we highlight Child Support Awareness Month, we must also recognize the important role child support can play in helping the survivors of domestic violence achieve financial independence,” said Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Acting Commissioner Barbara C. Guinn. “The work being undertaken by the Safe Access for Victims’ Economic Security demonstration will lay the foundation for enhanced safety and economic stability for survivors, which in turn can provide them with added strength to remove themselves from an abusive relationship once and for all.”
Based on a national program, New York’s Safe Access for Victims’ Economic Security demonstration has partnered with local domestic violence programs in 12 counties to establish impact expert advisory groups to gather feedback from survivors on how to improve access to child support services. Having conducted two listening sessions earlier this year, these groups will host two sessions this month in Wayne and Chautauqua counties during Child Support Awareness Month, along with nine other sessions planned throughout the state during the fall.
“Too often, survivors of domestic and gender-based violence cannot safely access the systems of service that New York state provides – this is especially true of child support services,” said Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Executive Director Kelli Owens. “Financial abuse is one of the most common forms of domestic and gender-based violence, and many abusive partners have learned how to manipulate child support systems in their favor. The SAVES program will allow child support services to become more accessible to survivors and will ultimately increase the number of survivors who seek out child support services.”
Gov. Kathy Hochul also issued a proclamation designating August as Child Support Awareness Month in New York State and highlighting the important role New York’s Child Support Program plays in helping to reduce child poverty, enhance the economic stability of families, and encourage parents to be more involved with their children.
Administered by OTDA, New York’s Child Support Program annually assists in establishing parentage and right-sized child support orders for more than 525,000 children and youth under the age of 18. Last year alone, the program collected and disbursed more than $1.65 billion in child support.
New York is one of 13 sites nationwide to be awarded funding through the SAVES demonstration grant from the administration for children and families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The award is providing the state with more than $1.5 million over five years to help bolster safe access to child support and related services for victims and survivors of domestic violence.
A press release noted, “Experts from OTDA and OPDV are now working collaboratively with local partners and others to develop and implement comprehensive policies and procedures for enhancing safety when establishing parentage; implementing child support and visitation orders; modifying and enforcing existing orders; connecting survivors to essential support services; identifying and mitigating disparities in access caused by victimization; and adopting case management strategies to guide interactions with parents who have used violence. New York City and the other selected counties will then implement these changes to test their effectiveness and make further adjustments as needed.”
The demonstration conducted impact expert advisory group listening sessions hosted by the Domestic Violence Program of Fulton County in May and the YWCA of the Mohawk Valley in Oneida County in June. Additional listening sessions will be hosted by:
√Survivor Advocacy Center of the Finger Lakes in Wayne County on Aug. 17
√ ANEW Center in Chautauqua County on Aug. 23.
The goal of the sessions is to gather feedback from survivors on safety risks associated with the child support process and suggestions for improvements to that process, including current child support forms. The focus of the advisory group is strictly on impact experts' experiences with the child support system, including a decision not to pursue child support services, not focused on their individual victimizations. Participants will receive a stipend.
Survivors interested in participating in the sessions can reach out to the host providers directly. They may also send email [email protected] for additional information.
New York state's domestic and sexual violence hotline provides free, confidential support 24/7 and is available in most languages at 800-942-6906 (call), 844-997-2121 (text) or @opdv.ny.gov (chat). Individuals also can visit www.ovs.ny.gov/connect to find a victim assistance program in their community.