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Child Support Enforcement System receives second federal certification

February 11, 2003

Bismarck, N.D. - North Dakota has become the 19th state to meet federal child support enforcement computer system requirements imposed by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996. Officials from the federal Administration for Children and Families presented a certificate of achievement to Mike Schwindt, director of the Department of Human Services' Child Support Enforcement Division, at a state directors' meeting in Washington, D.C., last week.

"We are pleased with this official recognition that North Dakota is effectively using technology to enhance child support enforcement services," Governor John Hoeven said.

Department Executive Director Carol K. Olson praised those involved. "The project team and others who helped make this certification possible deserve credit. Their efforts will ultimately help more children receive the parental support they deserve," she said.

Schwindt described North Dakota's Fully Automated Child Support Enforcement System (FACSES) as efficient and effective. "The system meets all of the federal requirements that large states must meet, yet was developed at a fraction of the cost of other states' systems," he said. "The $6.8 million price tag for FACSES was achieved because the system was developed and programmed in-house by state employees with input and support from the county-run regional child support enforcement units and the clerks of court."

Certification is the culmination of 12 years of system development and enhancement to meet changing federal requirements. Federal officials made on-site visits to North Dakota in December 2000 and in September 2002 to determine if the system met PRWORA standards.

It builds on an earlier milestone - the May 2000 certification under the federal Family Support Act, which required states to develop centralized child support enforcement database systems.

Under PRWORA, states were directed to enhance their child support enforcement capabilities. States were required to create centralized child support disbursement sites. In North Dakota, this meant converting county clerk of court cases into a state system. Employer "new hire" reporting was also mandated, which sped up income withholding processes and helped get support to children more quickly. State systems were also required to interface with a federal case registry, which helps locate non-custodial parents more easily, and were programmed to handle financial institution data matches and to support license revocations.

Staff at the eight regional offices, the department's Child Support Enforcement Division, and the clerks of court use FACSES. The computer system manages about 50,000 child support cases affecting 64,000 children. In 2002, it processed over $87 million in child support collections.


Mike Schwindt (701) 328-3582, or
Heather Steffl (701) 328-4933


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