Child support office open full-time again
Douglas County’s child support office is open to the public again for 40 hours a week, every week.
Some clients, however, have been caught off guard by changes in the way payments are processed that mean indefinite delays in their payments.
After more than a year of juggling a mandate to convert cases to a new computer system with the needs of clients, workers are back to focusing on the day-to-day tasks of child support enforcement.
“We’re now, we hope, operating under normal procedures,” said Deputy District Attorney Brian Chally. “Everybody is up to speed as much as they can be.”
The office was closed to the public some weeks as workers struggled to convert to a system called NOMADS, short for Nevada Operations Multi Automated Data Systems. The federally-required system is intended to centrally track child support and welfare cases, but operators found it difficult to learn and unforgiving of errors.
Still, Chally said Douglas met a July 31 deadline for converting 1,400 cases, and he said workers should be able to keep up with the average of 15 to 20 cases a week that are opened. Previously, questions were raised about how well the system would work.
“It does some things better than the old system and some things not as well as the old system,” Chally noted. “It’s still a cumbersome system.”
While the NOMADS conversion is complete, some clients are still adjusting to a new payment processing system that is located in Las Vegas. Previously, the Douglas Clerk-Treasurer’s office handled payments. As of Aug. 1, all money is sent to Las Vegas.
“There’s been some confusion on that, but I think it will get straightened out as people get used to sending the money there,” said Chally.
One parent, who asked to not to be identified, said she didn’t learn about the new processing system until she contacted the clerk’s office regarding her check.
“We’re all in limbo. We don’t know where our money is,” she said. “A friend of mine was told , ‘sorry, it’ll be six to eight weeks before your check gets out.'”
The woman said the delay forced her to borrow from a check-cashing service, a stark contrast to the previous processing system, which allowed her to count on the check arriving by the middle of each month.
“I don’t know when the check is going to get here. There’s no clue,” she said. “There may be people that get put out on the street because of this.”
Douglas County isn’t out of the woods yet, either. Previously, the state threatened to pass on federal sanctions imposed for missing earlier NOMADS deadlines to the counties. The counties balked and a state appropriation resolved the issue, but Chally said a Sept. 30 deadline for NOMADS to be certified as meeting federal standards could bring a similar situation.
“The only question is are we going to meet the compliance deadline, and the state is confident that we are,” he said. “But the county is vulnerable.”