Early efforts by the County of San Mateo’s Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) have collected more than $32 million this fiscal year but — more importantly — helped parents avoid the court process by agreeing to a support order and following through on child support payments.

The County is currently marking August as Child Support Awareness Month but the work by DCSS to support children and families is year-round.

“Child support collection plays an important role in helping parents provide for their children and help them grow into adulthood,” said DCSS Director Kim Cagno. “My department’s responsibility is helping parents understand that obligation and find ways to help them meet it as easily and efficiently as possible.”

DCSS serves more than 9,500 children and families by helping establish legal fatherhood through free genetic testing, establishing and enforcing child support orders and ensuring that either parent provides a child health insurance. If a child support order exists, DCSS works to modify orders based on income fluctuations over the life of the case. The office also tracks and maintains all collections and disbursements.

Cagno said her staff understands that clients are often in the midst of a difficult and emotional time which is why they strive to help them understand the child support process and fulfill that duty.

Wanting to meet clients where they are, DCSS is expanding its outreach to libraries in Belmont, Half Moon Bay and East Palo Alto. DCSS staff are also working to enroll clients in Customer Connect, a 24/7 online information resource for balance, payment and contact information that lets them email caseworkers directly.

DCSS is also taking to the air to reach clients in their homes. Cagno teamed up with the Filipino Channel for a seven-episode series on child support. The first episode on “Adobo Nation” aired in July and two more will follow this month.

These new efforts join existing educational and payment options, including the free CAChildSup mobile app which provides access to one’s support account via a smartphone or tablet, and PayNearMe payment options at select 7-Eleven, Family Dollar and ACE Cash Express stores.

More information about the Department of Child Support Services and its resources are available at https://dcss.smcgov.org.