PLACER COUNTY, Calif. — Placer County is getting recognition yet again. The Placer County Department of Child Support Services was ranked first by the state of California for the 2019 fiscal year.
It is the first time the department has achieved this in its history.
“It’s really rare to see this because the department serves a ‘medium-sized’ county and departments that serve ‘medium and large’ counties usually are at the bottom of the list,” Child Support Services Assistant Director Tami Uhler told ABC10.
According to Uhler, the department’s success comes after years of changes and struggles. CSS has improved performance over the last decade, going from 36th place to number one.
Federal performance achievements include paternity establishment, cases with court orders, collection of current support, and cost effectiveness.
It also improved overall collections by more than 4% by collecting and distributing more than $27 million.
“It’s great news for us and our customers because most money collected is sent directly into the homes,” Uhler said.
The money helps families buy food for the month, clothing, and other needs for their children. It’s also cycled back to the communities in which the families live in, she added.
The top ranking is a success for the entire Sacramento region, because, according to Uhler, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” Uhler says it motivates other agencies to do well, which benefits families with cases regardless of the location.
“When we do well, it means those children are being supported in the way they are legally entitled to be,” she added.
It also allows Placer County to work with other county agencies and find easier and faster solutions to cases.
“Our numbers help move the program in California, even just a little. And as long as all our agencies work amongst ourselves to provide the best service as possible, then everybody benefits,” Uhler said.
The Sacramento region also benefits from all the money that is distributed to customers, which eventually goes back to all nearby cities.
“The $27 million that we collected and dispersed back out makes its way back to the community one way or another because people are spending,” she added.
Of course, success doesn’t come without struggle, Uhler admits. She says the biggest struggle CSS has faced is the stigma associated with it.
“People think we are a law enforcement agency that’s out to get them, but we are not. We are here to help,” she said.
Uhler told ABC10 she and other officials have worked closely with workers in the last 10 years to “change that mindset.”
“We have moved on from the old days. Our priority is the happiness of our customers and their families,” she said.
The mentality of workers is to treat customers equally, regardless of the situation.
“The secret is to run it like a small private business,” she concluded.
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