Analytical tools help Golden State county manage and use child support data
Orange County Child Support Services (OCCSS) in Santa Ana, Calif., uses analytical tools from Cary, N.C.-based SAS to predict who is at high risk of failing to pay child support. The tools also identify the factors that could get the parent into compliance more effectively.
With 69,000 active child support cases processed annually and 12,000 new cases opened each year, the county generates an enormous amount of data. Prior to using predictive analytics, caseworkers tried to figure out how to help parents be in a better position to pay, but the data was not easy to access.
Steve Eldred, director of OCCSS, says, “Predictive analytics, used in conjunction with social safety net support tailored to the individual, can help the agency find long-term solutions that help parents support their children.”
With the analytics tools, the agency gathers everything it knows about the parent, evaluates the data and assigns an iScore, which details information concerning ability to pay and what factors might encourage full or timely payments. Parents with significant issues – unemployment, criminal records or homelessness – receive a “seedling” iScore classification that lets caseworkers know that this parent needs more time and help to be able to pay.
Other parents are classified as “saplings” or “young trees” if they have one deficit that could make a significant difference in their ability to pay.
Within six months of implementation, the analytical system has been embraced by the county’s 60 caseworkers that use it daily. In one of the agency’s success stories, a caseworker was prompted to find additional government benefits for a disabled parent. The benefits enabled the parent to pay $100 a month that he owed in child support.
Caseworkers can review iScore with a customer, then collaboratively design an earnings improvement plan that meets the customer’s needs, interests and skills. The image below shows the iScore welcome screen on the OCCSS IT system.
“Building a success plan with parents that is tailored to them specifically, where they can see the possible results, makes all the difference for customer engagement,” Eldred says.