By: Jamie Garfield-Imus and Natalia Baltazar
August is Child Support Awareness Month – a month intended to engage parents and raise awareness about local and state child support service programs. This year’s theme is focusing less on parent perfection and more on being present for the children.
Empower Yolo partnered with Yolo County Child Support Services to better serve our clients. In 2014 Attorney Brian Pakpour of Pakpour Family Law started a weekly family law clinic at Empower Yolo to fill a significant void in Yolo County. At its inception the clinic only assisted with family law filings. In 2015 Empower Yolo partnered with the Department of Child Support Services to also offer confidential child support appointments. The goal of the partnership was to increase safe access to child support, including resources to inform survivors about the process in a confidential setting.
“Child support is one of the most urgent needs of victims fleeing their abusers. It can provide stability in a time of chaos. Empower Yolo is the nerve center of services for domestic violence victims. By positioning itself there, the Department of Child Support Services is able to more efficiently get children the resources they need,” Pakpour says.
Child support services are available to parents and legal guardians who need assistance in obtaining or enforcing a child support order regardless of income. The goal is to promote the well-being of children, and help families become more self-sufficient by assisting both parents in meeting the financial and medical needs of their children. A child support professional is available during Empower Yolo’s weekly family law clinic every Thursday from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., pending appointments. Empower Yolo books appointments and offers translation services, if needed.
“The Department of Child Support Services recognizes the complex issues facing victims of domestic violence and sexual assault,” says Natalie Dillon, Director of Yolo County Child Support Services. “Our role as a department includes supporting families to improve the well-being of their children and the self-sufficiency of families. We believe partnering with Empower Yolo is important in achieving this mission. Individuals escaping violence often need additional support and we are honored to be a part of the safety net to aid them on this journey,” Dillon says.
This partnership facilitates survivors coming to a “one stop shop” to receive services at a safe and confidential location. Child support professionals are available at Empower Yolo to answer general and case specific child support questions, regardless of whether a case exists in Yolo County. If a parent is interested in applying for child support, they will assist on-site, as well as explain the safeguards in place to help victims remain safe throughout the child support process.
Survivors can also access additional legal assistance and all the other services Empower Yolo offers. Empower Yolo legal department staff are all trained crisis counselors who can provide peer counseling before and after child support appointments.
The partnership has proved to be a success. “Whether it’s opening a case, managing a current case, or simply looking up information such as case data or declarations of paternity, the representatives from child support services have been incredibly helpful,” Pakpour says.
To schedule a child support appointment at Empower Yolo, you may do so by contacting Empower Yolo’s legal Department at (530) 661-6336, or by contacting Yolo County Child Support Services directly at (530) 661- 2864.
The community can help support the family legal clinic at Empower Yolo by donating office supplies including: printer paper, yellow high lighters, pens, toner, legal pads or gift cards to office supply stores.
Being present for the children during times of family crisis as well as for the little things in life such as making a meal or playing with your children are so important. “All efforts demonstrate to children they are cared for and loved. [We are] here to help with the legal and financial part of co-parenting, freeing parents to focus on supporting their children and creating positive memories,” says Dillon. For more information about Child Support Awareness Month or child support services go to: www.yolocountychildsupport.org.