Editorial

Find the help you need to support your family | Editorial

The school year will start in just a few weeks, and many are concerned about how they will provide for their children amid the newest wave of COVID-19 cases.

The Department of Social and Health Services’ Division of Child Support wants to remind parents that this August is Child Support Awareness Month, and that help is available.

There are online resources and passionate trained advocates to assist you, unlike when I was a child. My biological father intentionally failed to pay child support as ordered by the court system. In my case, the department of social and health services would sometimes successfully track him down, and for a few months, we’d see $50 garnered from his paycheck. Then he would lose his job, and it’d take another year for him to be located. What that meant to me, as a child, is that one of my parents didn’t value me enough to provide financial support. For my mom and stepdad, it meant all of the financial burdens fell on their shoulders.

All 50 states celebrate August as Child Support Awareness Month. It’s a time to celebrate parents who are working hard for their kids and educate families on programs that can make a huge difference.

DCS helps parents pay and receive child support at little or no cost. It provides a number of services that can make the whole child support process easier. The division takes a family-centered approach to its work on more than 309,000 cases. Staff consider the needs of the whole family and offer resources when parents are experiencing issues such as unemployment, homelessness or substance use disorders. Working with parents and employers, DCS collected more than $695 million for families and children in the last year — support that helps kids and adults reach their full potential and weather storms that might come their way.

DCS has programs to help all parents, and can offer answers to the following questions: How do I pay my child support? How do I receive my court-ordered child support? How do I apply for child support? If I am raising my grandchild, can I collect child support from the parents? Does the Division of Child Support collect child support from other states or countries? As an employer, how do I report a new hire? How does domestic violence impact my case?

Find out more about all the services available by visiting www.childsupportonline.wa.gov or calling 1–800–442-KIDS (5437).

In addition, as part of the American Rescue Plan, the Child Tax Credit can provide monthly payments of $250-300 per month for each child to help make ends meet. The Division of Child Support is committed to the current administration’s goal to cut poverty in half by 2025. Visit childtaxcredit.gov for details.

For those who want to meet their child support obligations but are unable to, it can be emotionally detrimental to the entire family unit. The department offers the Alternative Solutions Program, which helps individuals find services to overcome barriers such as unemployment, homelessness or past legal trouble. Two-thirds of parents looking for jobs find one while in the program. Email alternativesolutions@dshs.wa.gov or call 1-360-664-5028 to find out more.

According to DSHS, “Children thrive when family members work together to provide for their emotional and physical needs. This is especially important when a family structure changes, because regardless of the family dynamic, the child’s needs remain constant.”

We congratulate DSHS for providing long-term help to those who want to be better mothers and fathers. Your presence – financially, physically and emotionally – shapes your child’s future. Don’t hesitate to ask for support.