AKWESASNE — The St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council and New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance have signed a historic agreement to cooperate in providing child support services.
The tribe’s Child Support Enforcement Unit became the first comprehensive tribal child support unit in New York in April 2014 and is also the only federally recognized tribal child support program in the state.
The agreement is the culmination of work between the tribe and the state, a press release from Akwesasne said, with input from county child support agencies.
ADHERES TO CUSTOMS
Representatives from the tribe, Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance and adjacent counties met in 2016 to learn about the tribe’s Child Support Enforcement Unit, exchange program information, share practices for processing cases and to discuss areas for collaboration.
The result is an agreement for the cooperative transfer of cases between the tribe and county child support programs that fosters collaboration in the providing of services to families, the release said.
“This agreement with the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe further exhibits Governor (Andrew) Cuomo’s commitment to all families,” said Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Samuel D. Roberts in the release.
“By enabling eligible families to utilize services offered by the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, it will ensure that individuals and children receive the support they need while also adhering to Mohawk customs and traditions.”
“The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe’s Child Support Enforcement Unit was designed to help our parents work together in ensuring the needs of their child are made a priority,” said Tribal Chief Beverly Cook on behalf of the Tribal Council.
“The agreement will support their efforts by enabling tribal members to have their child support cases transferred to a convenient location that offers culturally sensitive services.”
The Tribal Child Support Enforcement Unit adheres to established tribal laws and regulations, while respecting Mohawk customs and traditions in its handling of child support cases.
It takes a family-centered approach by offering a mediation process to help a mother and father work together in ensuring their children are receiving the best care and services, which allows both parents to take ownership of decisions, the release said.
The Child Support Unit also provides referral services when a family or individual needs additional assistance from agencies such as Domestic Violence, Family Advocate and Social Services.
It also works with other entities and jurisdictions, in addition to the state, to register and enforce Tribal Court child support orders.
The unit recently reached out to tribally licensed businesses in recognizing Income Withholding Orders.
SUPPORT TO THRIVE
“The signing of this agreement solidifies the commitment that the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe and New York state have made to ensure that all families have the ability to obtain support that they need to thrive and be healthy and successful,” said Child Support Unit Program Manager Sandy Rourke in the release.
She expressed appreciation to those whose hard work made the program possible, including St. Regis Mohawk Tribe staff attorney Johanne Sullivan, Federal Region II Program Specialists Judith Albury and Kesha Rodriquez, New York state’s Child Support Director Eileen Stack and OTDA Deputy Counsel Brian Wootan.”
Find out more about having a case transferred to the tribe’s Child Support Enforcement Unit by calling 518-358-2272, Ext. 2410 or stop by the office located in the lower level of the Community Building at 412 State Route 37.
Parents can also contact their county child support case worker or unit to obtain guidance on how to request a transfer.