Child support workers are usually employed by state offices such as the attorney general and social services. They are responsible for establishing paternity, locating absent parents and securing child support payments. Their job includes a high volume of paperwork and interaction with the public. Child support workers frequently interact with custodial and non-custodial parents of minors to ensure that both parents work together to see that the needs of the child are met.
Education requirements vary by state. For instance, in Texas, each child support worker position is broken down by experience and degree. Entry-level positions require a high school diploma and at least 60 hours of college coursework. Preferred qualifications include a bachelor’s degree. In some states, education and experience in accounting is helpful when it comes to processing payments and determining arrear (outstanding child support) payments. A paralegal degree or certificate is also useful because of the need to conduct interviews and write legal documents.
Duties and Skills
Depending on the level of job experience, child support workers perform duties from case management to investigations. In customer support, they must be able to work with parents during tense situations and accurately answer questions related to cases. Child support workers are also required to understand local, state and federal laws regarding family, criminal and employment laws. They must exhibit good grammar and spelling skills, and possess basic arithmetic abilities to write correspondence and calculate payments. More experienced workers process payments and make sure that funds are allocated to the appropriate account.
Child support workers usually have many cases to monitor, and the paper trail on some cases can get extensive. Contacting individuals who are related to cases is a big part of the job. Workers are in constant contact with the state’s legal team, witnesses for the case, parents and non-custodial parents and court personnel. Therefore, the job requires that individuals are highly organised. Also, the need to communicate with callers who can become belligerent contributes to the stress level of these individuals. Workers must sit at a computer for long periods.
The average annual pay for an entry-level child support worker is approximately £16,250 to £16,900 as of 2010, according to assessments of state job announcements for similar positions. The salary could include a step up for individuals with a bachelor’s degree or for someone with more than two years experience. As the worker gains experience, the salary increases. Oklahoma Department of Health Services, overseer of the state’s child support system, offers its Level 2 specialists a yearly salary of £19,500 to £31,200 as of 2010.
Benefits of the Role
Despite the extensive work that is required of child support workers, many people who fill these jobs believe they are helping improve the lives of children. Their goal is to make sure that parents own up to the responsibilities of providing care to their children. Also, their work helps get custodial parents off state aid roles. Child support workers often negotiate support and visitation in a setting outside of court, such as with a mediator, making the process less stressful for parents.