County attorney’s office named ‘2017 Child Support Office of the Year’

Published 10:45 am Thursday, October 19, 2017

Jessamine County Fiscal Court and the Jessamine County Attorney’s Office are pleased to announce that the Jessamine County Attorney’s Office (JCAO) has been named “2017 Child Support Office of the Year” by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services Division of Child Support Enforcement.

The  award was presented at the 2017 Child Support Enforcement Awards Ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 12 at the Transportation Conference in Frankfort.

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The Jessamine County Attorney’s Office, under contract from the state Division of Child Support Enforcement, offers child support enforcement services pertaining to court-ordered child support.

JCAO performs many functions, including the establishment of paternity and collection of child support payments. When noncustodial parents fall behind with his or her support obligation, JCAO uses a wide range of enforcement measures such as the interception of tax refunds, suspension of driver’s and other licenses, passport denial, civil contempt and seizure of bank accounts and other assets. If an obligor parent doesn’t pay his or her current child support obligation, JCAO may also pursue felony flagrant non-support criminal charges.

Credit for JCAO’s receipt of this year’s award should be given to the entire JCAO child support enforcement staff, Southern Regional Bluegrass Child Support Officer IV Barbara Blackburn, and the Jessamine County Fiscal Court, according to Jessamine County Attorney Goettl.

“Although this is the first time JCAO has been recognized in this way, we have always been a ‘diamond in the rough’ — an extremely efficient and effective child support enforcement office with a highly motivated staff that is concerned with getting as many court-ordered dollars to the custodial parent as possible. We focus on the percentage of dollars spent versus dollars collected, and our results in that area are consistently in the top 15 percent of the state’s CSO’s,” he said.

In addition, Blackburn’s efforts to align various organizational functions with new federal and/or state performance guidelines have resulted in JCAO’s rise in ranking (in terms of those guidelines) by approximately 30 points within the span of a few months.

“Like many counties, we operate with a small staff and a large workload, making it necessary to focus our efforts on collecting support rather than trying to look good. With Barbara’s help, we’ve taken the diamond out and shined it up a bit,” Goettl explained.

JCAO’s overall functions have also improved in recent years, including a rise in successful paternity establishment cases from 91 percent in FY16 to 95 percent in FY 17. This improvement is the result of a combination of motivated employees and low turnover, Goettl said, and that combination is due, in part, to Judge Executive David West’s and Jessamine County Fiscal Court’s support of JCAO.

Because the JCAO staff members are employees of Jessamine County Fiscal Court (JCFC), JCAO does not have to hire and pay the salaries of a payroll and/or human resources employee, allowing the agency to put more resources into efforts to obtain child support.

“JCFC also provides us with the economies of scale that allows the office to run more efficiently,” Goettl said. In addition, the support of JCFC has allowed County Attorney Goettl to provide pay raises for JCAO staff, and by doing so, encourage low turnover. “The county is extremely fortunate to have such a great staff, as well as the support of Judge West and the Jessamine County Fiscal Court,” Goettl said.

“Jessamine County is proud of County Attorney Brian Goettl and his staff and their commitment to provide the best service to the residents of Jessamine County,” Jessamine County Judge/Executive David West said.

“His office is a voice for those seeking resolution regarding Child Support issues. I appreciate their hard work and extend my congratulations to Brian and his staff.”