Three California counties integrate welfare distribution with new software program

A consortium of three California counties that use a common system to manage child support services has filled a gap in its system with a software program from CSE Resources Inc.

Alameda, Stanislaus and Contra Costa counties use the Best Enforcement Support Technology (BEST) as their common child support system, but the system does not include a tool for distributing and tracking money through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.

A TANF distribution model from Troy, N.Y.-based CSE Resources, a software company specializing in child support enforcement, enabled the counties to automatically distribute collections in accordance with federal regulations.

"[CSE] was able to integrate the welfare distribution part of the program with our system," said Paula Deen, an Alameda County-based BEST consortium manager. "We used to use the welfare department's system for distribution," which took longer and required more paperwork, Deen said.

In one case, the shorter turnaround helps the counties comply with a state law. California recently mandated that "disregard" money, funds initially paid to a TANF recipient, must be sent to the client within 48 hours, and the new system enables the counties to meet that goal, said Catherine Shipley, program manager at the Stanislaus County district attorney's office's family support division.

CSE Resources' TANF module automates the distribution process and provides detailed reports on how welfare grants and child support collections are posted and disbursed. The system cost about $250,000 to put in place and took about a year to complete, said David Phaff, a CSE Resources spokesman.

CSE Resources (www.cseresources.com) also modified its software to interface with welfare systems in all three counties, which led to the module being completed at three different times, with Stanislaus operational last October, Contra Costa going live in April and Alameda in June, Phaff said.

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