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Child Support Services Policy

Published Date: March 01, 2007
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02 Goals, Principles, Authorities and Responsibilities

Program Responsibilities

CASS Regulation Section 2, Section 5 and Section 6
FOIP Act
IESA Section 29, Section 32 and Section 49


INTENT

To ensure Child Support Services (CSS) adheres to legislated responsibilities and obligations.

POLICY

Notification

The Child Support Worker (CSW) is responsible to notify applicants about the actions that are taken when services are provided under the Income and Employment Supports Act (IESA) section 29(3), section 29(8) and section 29(9). This includes applicants who:

  • Are in receipt of assistance, or
  • Have qualified for assistance but have not yet received payments or benefits, or
  • Were in receipt of assistance and the CSW is continuing with action for the applicant after the assistance file has closed.


Notification Requirements

When the Director exercises an authority under section 29(3) of the Act, except under clauses (f) and (g), the Director must provide notice in any manner, including orally, that in the opinion of the Director is likely to bring the matter to the attention of the person who is or may be entitled to support. [CASS Regulation Section 2(1)]

This means the applicant is entitled to know about the actions CSS is undertaking to obtain or enforce support orders or agreements. Notice is given verbally or in writing as indicated in policy.

Mandatory Written Notification

Notice for the purpose of section 29(3)(f) of the Act must be in writing. [CASS Regulation Section 2(2)]

This means the CSW notifies the applicant in writing when a support order or agreement is filed with the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP). The CSW notifies the applicant in writing if any changes occur in disbursement instructions after the initial filing of the order or agreement, e.g. new instructions to MEP to change the disbursement to special handle, withdrawal from filing for enforcement due to documented family violence risks.

MEP’s Responsibilities

Notice is not required for the purpose of section 29(3)(g) of the Act. [CASS Regulation Section 2(3)]

This means a Ministerial Order has delegated authority to MEP to withdraw an order or agreement from filing when the Crown has a claim, and therefore MEP is responsible for any required notification to the applicant. MEP withdraws an order or agreement from filing when the applicant is no longer in receipt of assistance and has opted out from MEP services and there is no money owing to the Crown.

Method of Notification

Where a notice under this section is made in writing, the notice may be sent by ordinary mail to the last known address of the person according to the records of the Department. [CASS Regulation Section 2(4)]

This means written notification to applicants does not require:

  • Verification of address other than current CSS records
  • Acknowledgement of receipt or delivery confirmation.


Use of Information

The Director may collect and use information to the extent necessary to act under IESA sections 29(3)(i) and 30(1)(e). [CASS Regulation Section 5(2)]

This means when the CSW or a delegated staff obtain information about the respondent from their investigations and inquiries, the worker must only use this information in relation to mandated CSS activities. [IESA Section 49]

Professional Obligation

The CSW is required to perform CSS activities in a manner that reflects the CSS mandate by adhering to legislative authority and CSS policy.

Within the CSS mandate, the CSWs provide equitable treatment to clients throughout the province of Alberta by:

  • Delivering services in a manner that respects the applicant and respondent.
  • Recognizing the applicant’s and respondent’s inherent worth.
  • Respecting the person’s autonomy, dignity and right to personal choice.
  • Informing applicants and respondents of Child Support Services policies and procedures.
  • Telling applicants and respondents how the process works and that they have the right to have support matters heard by the court.
  • Treating all applicant and respondent information as confidential and making sure it is collected and disclosed only in accordance with CSS policy as determined by the IESA, CASS Regulation, FOIP Act and Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs) or information sharing agreements.


Legislation acknowledges that CSS staff are protected against damage claims when staff act in good faith while exercising their authority to provide CSS. [IESA Section 32]

Responsibility for Costs

Costs against the Crown in the Right of Alberta with respect to proceedings under Part 5 of the Act are limited to the reimbursement of DNA testing costs,  paid by a respondent when:

  1. the results of the testing determine that the respondent is not a parent responsible for child support, and
  2. the respondent has requested reimbursement [CASS Regulation Section 6]


This means:

  • When a respondent has paid for the total cost of DNA testing because the applicant has indicated only one possible responsible person, or
  • When a respondent and CSS agree to share the DNA testing costs because the applicant has indicated more than one possible responsible person,
    the respondent requests reimbursement by forwarding his invoice indicating “paid” to the CSW.


Resources

Child Support Services (CSS) workers should acquaint themselves with provincial and local agencies offering legal/social services to Albertans. Some agencies work closely with CSS and provide assistance to Child Support Workers (CSWs).

CSS does not provide legal services and other social services that applicants may require to resolve domestic issues.

When appropriate the CSW may suggest to an applicant they contact a particular agency or service for assistance.

The legal services listed in Resources do not necessarily have an office in each region but they can be accessed from any region.

Note
CSWs do not refer applicants or respondents to a specific lawyer or law firm. The worker may make a referral to Lawyer Referral Services.
When an Albertan requests information or a referral for services, the CSW does not direct the person to a specific for-profit organization, e.g. DNA providers, document servers.