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Feedback Needed on Making Child Support Process Safer for Domestic Violence Survivors


In recognition of August being Child Support Awareness Month, The New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance and the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence will be holding a listening session in the Finger Lakes 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 demonstration – to develop and test new approaches to ensure all New Yorkers can safely pursue child support. Thursday’s session will be held at the Survivor Advocacy Center of the Finger Lakes in Newark.

New York is one of 13 sites nationwide to be awarded funding through the Safe Access for Victims’ Economic Security 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.

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.

“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.

“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.”

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.

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