Careers: Child Support Specialist
The Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) employs child support specialists each year to ensure Oklahoma’s children receive the financial help they need for their well-being. These professionals help fulfill the mission of Oklahoma’s largest state agency.
What does a child support specialist do?
Child support specialists are not social workers. They function more like paralegals or legal assistants in a large statewide legal program to help deal with a growing social problem in Oklahoma -- children living in poverty. The program is necessary because many parents do not provide financial support for their children, which impacts children’s health and well being.
Child support specialists work with the child support attorneys to take appropriate court actions to ensure parents pay child support. They establish, enforce and modify court orders. They prepare legal pleadings. They prepare records of payments. They locate parents who owe their children child support. Child support specialists establish paternity and obtain a court order to put a child support obligation in place. In turn, they also work with other organizations and social service agencies to help parents to overcome obstacles that keep them from doing right by their children.
Child support specialists describe their work day:
“I start each day with a plan of what needs to be done that day. Throughout the day there are many interruptions either by phone calls, customers in the office or co-workers who need assistance. You have to be able to stay focused on the work at hand while dealing with last minute unexpected work or interruptions.” -- A.G., Programs Manager, Bethany Child Support Office
“You need to be ready for anything. You have to be able to multi-task. I usually have 3 or 4 different things going on at the same time. I deal with walk-ins, phone calls and questions. You have to be able to remain calm when dealing with customers.” -- C.P., Child Support Specialist IV, Fairview Child Support Office
“We do administrative hearings on Mondays and Tuesdays, staffing with attorneys on Wednesdays, and on Thursdays I do pleadings. Then on Fridays, I play catch up, go to meetings and trainings.” -- C.H., Child Support Specialist II, Tulsa West Child Support Office
"Customer service is a major part of the job since we work with the public.” -- S.D., Child Support Specialist II, Oklahoma City South Child Support Office.
Child support specialists need to know:
A child support enforcement office functions similarly to a law office, with each team member assigned individual responsibilities that support the others in the team. It is a tough job that demands good judgment and excellent oral and written communication skills in order to foster a productive, cooperative work environment. To be effective, a child support specialist needs:
- Analytical ability;
- Attention to detail;
- Ability to comprehend and follow complex rules;
- Multi-tasking ability;
- Reliability and commitment;
- Ability to work cooperatively with the public and court system;
- Ability to understand the legal process;
- Positive attitude;
- High motivation; and
- Basic computer skills.
The ideal candidate will have one of the following:
- Bachelor’s degree in any discipline;
- Associate's degree in legal assistance or a closely related program of paralegal education; or completion of an American Bar Association approved paralegal education program;
- Four years of professional law enforcement, child support enforcement or social work experience can substitute for the bachelor’s degree.
Is Oklahoma Child Support Services for you?
OKDHS' Oklahoma Child Support Services offers a unique opportunity for those desiring a challenging, important career. Employees participate in a comprehensive training plan which includes on-the-job training designed to provide the expertise needed to perform complex tasks. Trainees who attain the level of proficiency required will experience a challenging and rewarding career as a child support specialist. Child support specialists work at child support offices statewide.
Child support specialists describe the advantages of working for OKDHS Child Support Enforcement:
"When I started taking the state tests, I was one of those people just looking for a job. I started out 8 years ago doing case initiation and enforcement. That job I was looking for has turned into a career.” -- S.H., Child Support Specialist III, Chickasha Child Support Office
"The satisfaction of knowing I am helping the children of this state is beyond comparison. And the insurance and leave benefits are great.” -- C.P., Child Support Specialist IV, Fairview Child Support Office
I am the type of worker that thrives under pressure. I like the challenge. And I like knowing that my job has a direct effect on people’s lives, whether I am holding someone accountable for their responsibilities or issuing someone a first (child support) payment after several years.” -- S.D.,Child Support Specialist II, Oklahoma City South Child Support Office.
How to apply:
Visit the Office of Management and Enterprise Services' Human Capital Management Division Web site at http://www.ok.gov/opm (link opens in new window) and click on OKCareers (Link opens in new window) to view current job announcements for specific locations. Complete the application online. Applicants will be notified by e-mail of the deadline for completing the required merit test to be eligible for consideration.