(a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(1) While the State Department of Social Services has had statutory authority over the child support system, the locally elected district attorneys have operated their county programs with a great deal of autonomy.
(2) District attorneys have operated the child support programs with different forms, procedures and priorities, making it difficult to adequately evaluate and modify performance statewide.
(3) Problems collecting child support reflect a fundamental lack of leadership and accountability in the collection program. These management problems have cost California taxpayers and families billions of dollars.
(b) The director shall develop uniform forms, policies and procedures to be employed statewide by all local child support agencies. Pursuant to this subdivision, the director shall:
(1) Adopt uniform procedures and forms.
(2) Establish standard caseworker to case staffing ratios, adjusted as appropriate to meet the varying needs of local programs.
(3) Establish standard attorney to caseworker ratios, adjusted as appropriate to meet the varying needs of local programs.
(4) Institute a consistent statewide policy on the appropriateness of closing cases to ensure that, without relying solely on federal minimum requirements, all cases are fully and pragmatically pursued for collections prior to closing.
(5) Evaluate the best practices for the establishment, enforcement, and collection of child support, for the purpose of determining which practices should be implemented statewide in an effort to improve performance by local child support agencies. In evaluating the best practices, the director shall review existing practices in better performing counties within California, as well as practices implemented by other state Title IV-D programs nationwide.
(6) Evaluate the best practices for the management of effective child support enforcement operations for the purpose of determining what management structure should be implemented statewide in an effort to improve the establishment, enforcement, and collection of child support by local child support agencies, including an examination of the need for attorneys in management level positions. In evaluating the best practices, the director shall review existing practices in better performing counties within California, as well as practices implemented by other state Title IV-D programs nationwide.
(7) Set priorities for the use of specific enforcement mechanisms for use by both the local child support agency and the Franchise Tax Board. As part of establishing these priorities, the director shall set forth caseload processing priorities to target enforcement efforts and services in a way that will maximize collections and avoid welfare dependency.
(8) Develop uniform training protocols, require periodic training of all child support staff, and conduct training sessions as appropriate.
(9) Review and approve annual budgets submitted by the local child support agencies to ensure each local child support agency operates an effective and efficient program that complies with all federal and state laws, regulations, and directives, including the directive to hire sufficient staff.
(c) The director shall submit any forms intended for use in court proceedings to the Judicial Council for approval at least six months prior to the implementation of the use of the forms.
(d) In adopting the forms, policies, and procedures, the director shall consult with the California Family Support Council, the California State Association of Counties, labor organizations, custodial and noncustodial parent advocates, child support commissioners, family law facilitators, and the appropriate committees of the Legislature.
(e) (1) Notwithstanding the provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act, Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 11340) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code, through December 31, 2007, the department may implement the applicable provisions of this division through child support services letters or similar instructions from the director.
The department shall adopt regulations implementing the forms, policies, and procedures established pursuant to this section. The director may delay implementation of any of these regulations in any county for any time as the director deems necessary for the smooth transition and efficient operation of a local child support agency, but implementation shall not be delayed beyond the time at which the transition to the new county department of child support services is completed. The department may adopt regulations to implement this division in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act. The adoption of any emergency regulation filed with the Office of Administrative Law on or before December 31, 2007, shall be deemed to be an emergency and necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, and safety or general welfare. These emergency regulations shall remain in effect for no more than 180 days.
(2) It is the intent of the Legislature that the amendments to paragraph (1) of this subdivision made by Assembly Bill 3032 of the 2001-02 Regular Session shall be retroactive to June 30, 2002.
(Amended by Stats. 2004, Ch. 806, Sec. 2. Effective January 1, 2005.)