Penn State’s role in Commonwealth child support enforcement program turns 15

September 22, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — For 15 years the Penn State Justice and Safety Institute (JASI) has helped Pennsylvania become the national leader in child support enforcement.

Penn State JASI administers the Pennsylvania Child Support Enforcement Training Institute (PACSETI), which provides training and career development programs to the state’s child support enforcement workers. The institute has helped Pennsylvania become the only state to meet or exceed all five performance standards that are set by the federal government to determine the effectiveness of a state's child support enforcement program.

“The program helps to keep children from falling into poverty,” said John Sankey, PACSETI program manager. “Child support enforcement ensures that sufficient money is collected to provide food, clothing and other necessities required to adequately support children.”

Child support enforcement officers collected more than $1.2 billion in 2014, and the state’s collection of overdue child support ranked first in the country at nearly 84 percent. Since 2002, more than $17 billion has been collected and allocated for the care of children. The five federal performance standards include current collections, arrearage collection, support order establishment, cost effectiveness and paternity establishment.

PACSETI is a partnership between JASI, the Department of Human Services’ Bureau of Child Support Enforcement (BCSE), the Domestic Relations Sections (DRS) of the 66 Courts of Common Pleas and the Domestic Relations Association of Pennsylvania (DRAP).

Geraldine Redic, DRAP president and deputy administrator of the Allegheny County Family Division, said the relationship between the entities has been key to its success.

“The cooperative agreement brings a unique synergy in getting the state’s component in there with what the counties need to perform the responsibilities, and instructors who understand the child support area,” said Redic. “It helps provide that comprehensive knowledge base and training for workers.”

The institute, founded in 2002, has trained more than 5,000 child support enforcement workers, and nearly 24,000 workers have enrolled in trainings through webinars and face-to-face and online courses. All new hires are required to take the training program, and instructors, who include former field workers and individuals working within child support; attorneys; and DRS directors, deputy directors and supervisors, are vetted through JASI’s academic partner, the Penn State Harrisburg School of Public Affairs.  

Kevin Guistwite, BCSE’s director of the division of program development and evaluation, said Penn State’s academic foundation brings essential standardization and rigor to the instructors’ training process.

PACSETI provides training to enforcement workers in the following areas: case initiation, locating a non-custodial parent, establishing paternity, financial processing, enforcement of support orders, handling intergovernmental and intrastate support cases, and case closure. Visit the PACSETI website for more information. 

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated September 22, 2016