Child Support Services brings HOPE to a single mom and her children with a huge case payout
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, parents have faced incredible obstacles to ensure their children and families were able to access what they needed to be successful. As COVID-related job losses and other situations hit our state’s families, Oklahoma Human Services (OKDHS) has continually worked to leverage programs, new and existing, to help strengthen the families who rely on us and offer help and HOPE in otherwise challenging circumstances. For a Child Support Services (CSS) customer that we will call “Jane” to protect her confidentiality, the agency’s work and her own perseverance resulted in a miraculous payout to the benefit of her children and family.
The mission of CSS is to promote healthy families by establishing, monitoring and enforcing reliable support while encouraging self-sufficiency and strengthening relationships. The innovative team at CSS is dedicated to improving the lives of children and families and is the first choice for families, like Jane’s, who seek quality support services.
“Jane was a single mother of two and, as her children grew, she did not receive child support from the non-custodial parent,” said Rebekah Trujillo, Establishment Supervisor for Child Support Services in Midwest City. “She struggled to make ends meet and provide for them, but was determined to succeed. The non-custodial parent avoided the child support obligation, adamantly dodging service for court hearings, putting assets and bank accounts in other’s names, and avoiding payment by all means possible.”
As the children grew up, Jane never lost hope that she would collect what was owed for her children. She contacted the Midwest City Child Support office and shared her story, along with the request that her case remain open in the event there was ever an opportunity to collect.
One day, Jane contacted Trujillo and informed her about a personal injury suit she had recently learned about involving the non-custodial parent. If there was an award in this case, it would be significant. Jane didn’t know what else to do to make sure it was known that she was entitled to this money. Trujillo, along with the state’s attorney, David Walk, and managing attorney, Andrea Unruh, made sure a lien was filed on the case, and did research to learn the personal injury case was happening in another county.
Trujillo ensured that Jane understood the lien would also need to be filed in that county and into the personal injury case. Jane followed through with what she learned from Trujillo and filed the lien herself. Unruh contacted the non-custodial parent’s attorney to make sure everyone was aware that CSS was entitled to receive payment. For a long time, there was no communication on the case, but Trujillo made an amazing discovery when completing a status check on the case!
The non-custodial parent’s attorney eventually did contact Child Support Services, due to the lien filed, and advised there was an award on the personal injury case. CSS was able to negotiate for the total principal balances owed to Jane – an amount equaling over $50,000 – and the payment had already been received by CSS by the time Trujillo looked into the case.
Trujillo called Jane to congratulate her for her hard work and perseverance over all these years. When Jane answered the phone, she explained she had no idea the money was awarded. Between bursts of tears, she said “did you say over $50,000 dollars?!?“ Jane explained that she recently lost her job, due to the COVID pandemic, and this was like a miracle. She expressed she never thought she would actually receive the money from the non-custodial parent, and she was so appreciative to CSS for helping to make this happen.
Jane checked her online Child Support account while on the phone with Trujillo, and actually saw the money in her account. The rest of their conversation alternated between laughter and tears in celebration of the years of perseverance, commitment and hope held for this case. Team work between the customer, the caseworkers and the attorneys, as well as a willingness to go the extra mile for a customer, lead to such a great outcome. It was a moment neither will forget and such an honor for Trujillo to get to share with this customer!
“Somewhere in each of us is an internal drive that moves us to give of ourselves to help others in need, and this drive can become an undeniable calling,” said Trujillo. “Working for OKDHS opens an avenue of opportunity to give of ourselves, help others and satisfy this vocation. Being able to go to work each day and know that what I do authentically impacts a real human life or a family is beyond rewarding.”
“Not everyone who feels this calling can make it the center of their lives,” she continued. “We have families, obligations and responsibilities; but by choosing to work for OKDHS I have a way to serve others each day. Working on Jane’s case was one situation where I was given a glimpse of what my work at OKDHS means to the people I serve. It is always emotional, refreshing and a renewing of purpose when you get to see the fruit of your labor. I am grateful for the opportunity I have each day to be a small part of improving the lives of the people of Oklahoma. It is my joy, my passion and it allows me to unite a very important part of who I am as a person into what I do every day.”
When asked about what this experience meant to her, Jane expressed appreciation for the team at CSS and a desire for other Oklahomans to know that help is available for them too.
“I went through a hard time,” Jane said. “I never gave up, and say that to others as well. Don’t give up! I hired private help, and they even gave up. I’m really glad it came through and thank God for that money! I would tell others to stay on top of it, keep everything, file everything you can and pray you have great people to help you, like I did with CSS.”
“We are so proud to serve families, like Jane’s, to ensure that those families have the resources they need to be successful and to live their best lives,” said OKDHS CSS Director, Renee Banks. “We know having reliable child support helps families be more self-sufficient, while also providing opportunities for children to have meaningful connections with both parents. Cases like Jane’s are why we do this work each day, and, even if the payouts are smaller, they are just as meaningful for the families we serve.”
If you or someone you know is in need of or owed child support, please reach out to OKDHS CSS. This team diligently works in the background, through the legal remedies available to the agency, to collect what is owed to the hard-working parents and children of Oklahoma. Learn more or apply for services at https://oklahoma.gov/okdhs/services/child-support-services.
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