Hilbert Morales / EL OBSERVADOR
The following is a report, crafted from the dialogue which Damian Trujillo, Producer & Moderator, Comunidad del Valle, NBC 3, Sunday, 3:00 PM, November 29, 2015:
Damian Trujillo, Producer and Moderator, Comunidad del Valle, Sunday, NBC TV 3: Damian Trujillo had as guests, Ignacio Moreno, Director, and Bertha Andrade-Gibson, Supervising Child Support Officer, Department of Child Support Services, Social Services Agency, County of Santa Clara.
D. Trujillo: “My guess, Ignacio, is that you are the most feared man in the County.”
I. Moreno: “I hope not (laughs). Our message is that I really hope that our customers are pro-active in communicating with us. And, not fearful when communicating with us.”
D. Trujillo: “Well, let’s paint the bad picture first and then we will bring in the nice picture we want to communicate. How bad is it out there when men or women are held to being responsible for their child’s support payments?”
B. Andrade-Gibson: “We have a large population that don’t pay, but then we also have a large population which do pay. We collected a lot of money this year…about $92 million. We want people to know that we (in Child Support Services) are there to help; not just to collect. We want persons to come in; not be fearful; and allow us to assist them with through options and programs available. If they have problems, we are there to inform, counsel and assist them.”
D. Trujillo: “If there are a lot who are not paying (their child support) that should be a concern for you, me and all of us in this county.”
I. Moreno: “There are a portion of obligors who are not fulfilling their commitment. We have remedies for those folks. There are legal enforcement tactics that are in place. Fortunately, the majority of our cases do pay. One of the avenues that we prefer to use is that of pro-active communication. It really helps when our clients really understand what the expectations and responsibilities are up front.”
D. Trujillo: “Some folks who are obligated to pay (child support), may think it is not fair until they meet your and/or your staff. Is it then when they talk to you that they realize that maybe this is fair and there is a way of doing this.”
B. Andrade-Gibson: “Yes, we have a process in place and we explain everything to them. Of course, we have the ruling of the court and state requirements we have to follow. We open the doors (of understanding) to them. Once they are not fearful or anxious about us, we can establish a great working relationship. It is not about them; it is about the established legal process.”
D. Trujillo: “We just showed a video of kids playing in a school yard. This is really all about them.”
I. Moreno: “Absolutely. The focus is that we are doing our best to collect the child support that families are legally, financially, and morally entitled to receive. We ensure that they get the resources needed to become self-sufficient members of our community.”
D. Trujillo: “Bertha, “What are the ways of ensuring that that child and the family are getting what is due to them?”
B. Andrade-Gibson: “Coming in to our (Child Support) offices; obtaining the application forms; getting an order for medical support; maternity support and, of course, child support. That helps us get the needed resources and money out to the families which need them.”
D. Trujillo: “Ignacio, we discussed the impact of poverty off camera. This child support can often be the difference between a child being on the poverty rolls or not on the poverty rolls depending on how responsible the child’s parents are.”
I. Moreno: “Absolutely. Our case load is upwards of 37,000 families. That represents over 55,000 children in Santa Clara County. For many of those families, they struggle economically and socially. These families are fragile. And child support is one of the true safety nets that keep them out of poverty. It is one our jobs to ensure that those children are receiving the financial support that they are entitled to. But, we are also doing it in a way that helps us be more efficient and effective as a government (agency). We ensure that persons are living up to their parental responsibilities.”
D. Trujillo: “What kind of power or authority are you given by the county?”
I.Moreno: “Santa Clara County’s Department of Child Support Services has a lot of authority. Not only in terms of enforcement and tactics that we take, but also legally under existing statutes. What we try to do is to not rely so much on those avenues of enforcement. What we really want to do is to focus upon education. Our system is complicated; the court system is complicated. For folks who have no experience in it, it is difficult for them to understand it. It is difficult for them to understand it. It can be intimidating. So what we try to do is to proactively educate our customers. Once we put them at ease, they can make better decisions about their children.”
D. Trujillo: “It is not always about the bad guys. If you want more information or need to contact Child Support Services, SCC, phone 866-901-3212 or go to .
WRITER’S NOTE: Damian Trujillo is a former EO intern of Journalism and Mass Communications.