The mission of most public sector websites is to connect end users with meaningful results and information. Some portals provide answers to common questions. Others go deeper, connecting users with services and agency experts.
Yet, according CFI Group’s 2019 Government Websites report, public sector sites did not increase in usability from 2017-2018. As laid out in the President’s Management Agenda, connecting users to information and services is a priority of the Federal government’s modernization efforts. These goals include IT modernization, data accountability and transparency, and improving customer experience.
In our last post on Support for Changing Families, we talked about the value of updating child support systems. They are especially vital for accurately reporting payment and enforcement activities in a timely manner. After all, a big part of any child support agency’s mission is the collection of payments to help support custodial parents and reduce the risk of leaning on other programs. Child support systems can spot where payments are falling short, and thereby highlight parents who may need additional services to become compliant.
In an Our American States (OAS) podcast from the National Conference of State Legislatures, host Gene Rose explored two programs that are focusing on supporting non-custodial parents, particularly in the area of employment, as they look to improve payment levels.
Millennials are blamed for ruining a lot of things these days, but one thing they’ve had a positive effect on is marriage, as they get married later and stay married longer. This has helped divorce rates to decline from their all-time high in the early ‘80’s, but nevertheless there will be 14 divorces in the U.S. in the time it takes to read this article (4 minutes).
Furthermore, divorce rates are not felt evenly across the socio-economic spectrum, with women earning less than $25,000 being 42% more likely to get divorced than women earning more than $50,000. Beyond the emotional stress caused by divorce, the financial pressure only compounds the anxiety, particularly when the care of children needs to be considered.
Books and movies allow us to try on different characters and lives, and science fiction, especially, lets us slip into various alternative futures for humanity. We get to see if a totalitarian society like Orwell’s 1984 is better or worse than the test tube humans of Huxley’s Brave New World, or if the utopia in Lowry’s The Giver is really preferable to a dystopia.
Living through such scenarios in a narrative is similar in part to the work being done by the Institute for Alternative Futures (IAF) on the Human Progress and Human Services (HPHS) 2035 project. Four scenarios, or “stories describing how the future may unfold” were developed by IAF to help those working in HHS try on, and plan for, the futures that seem most probable for them.
Family breakdown. Poverty. Neglect. Too often, children are caught in events outside of their control. Sadly, compassionate care by the public sector can be a challenge in the face of worker burnout, budget concerns, and maxed out systems. Some government entities are seeking new tools to help, as reported in the Washington Post, but crisis shouldn’t be necessary to stoke change.
There’s no question that we need to make it easier for our public sector workers to help children. After listening to those who are wrestling with this challenge, I think there are some key areas that have the most potential: