Federal Funding of Provincial and Territorial Child Support, Support Enforcement and Child Custody and Access Projects

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND

PAA 1: PROJECT COORDINATION

Coordination

Duration
1997-2001
Goal
To coordinate provincial and federal-provincial planning and implementation of child support guidelines and enhanced support enforcement measures.
Description
The Office of the Attorney General assigned a project manager—the Family Law Coordinator— and support staff to help manage the interdepartmental and federal-provincial-territorial planning and administrative tasks required during implementation.

PAA 2: FEDERAL-PROVINCIAL-TERRITORIAL CONSULTATIONS ON FAMILY LAW

National Consultations on Custody, Access and Child Support

Duration
2001-2002
Goal
To consult family law professionals and other service providers about child support, custody and access issues.
Description
The Family Law Coordinator held consultation meetings with the judiciary, family law professionals and the public in Charlottetown, Montague and Summerside from June 4 to 6, 2001.

PAA 3: FAMILY JUSTICE ENHANCEMENTS AND INNOVATIONS

Staff Training

Duration
1997-1998
Goal
To prepare staff and family law professionals for implementation of the Guidelines.
Description
The province provided training for new and existing family court counsellors, maintenance enforcement staff, employees of the family and child support programs, Health and Social Services staff, lawyers and judges.

Systems Requirements

Duration
1997-1999
Goal
To upgrade and modify computer systems to support child support initiatives.
Description
The province's Office of the Attorney General developed, purchased or modified applications for ongoing operations and for monitoring child support initiatives during 1997-1998. The changes included modifying the court-case tracking system, starting to integrate family court and maintenance enforcement databases, and buying child support software. In the following year, the province met its needs through equipment leases.

Child Support Information Officers

Duration
1997-2001
Goal
To inform parties of the child support guidelines and to help them file applications.
Description
Since 1997-1998, Prince Edward Island has had child support information officers available to provide parents with information about the guidelines and to help them file applications for variations or new orders. The officers also collect child support data to support research activities. The officers responded to increases in the number of variations and recalculations requested. This service was evaluated.

Financial Counsellor

Duration
1997-2001
Goal
To provide the courts with professional accounting assistance.
Description
Prince Edward Island first hired an accountant to be a financial counsellor to help the court and court staff with income determinations in 1997-1998. Under the Rules of Court, the counsellor is available to assist in complex income determination cases. The counsellor also participates in training on the guidelines.

Parent Education

Duration
1998-2001
Goal
To help separated and divorcing parents.
Description
Prince Edward Island developed a parent education curriculum in 1998-1999. Parents voluntarily participate in two three-hour sessions delivered by volunteers recruited and trained by the Office of the Attorney General. The program was the subject of an evaluation done in cooperation with the Department of Justice Canada.[28]

Court Forms and Rules

Duration
1998-2001
Goal
To update court forms and rules in light of the implementation of child support guidelines.
Description
Prince Edward Island has initiated a review of rules and forms through consultations with the family law Bench and Bar, and other personnel. The progress of this work is linked to progress made designing and implementing a new information management system for the province's courts. Once new and revised rules and forms have been approved, the province will look into the feasibility of introducing an auto-order procedure as has been done in Manitoba.

PAA 4: ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION MECHANISMS TO DETERMINE, VARY OR RECALCULATE CHILD SUPPORT

Recalculation Clerk

Duration
2001-to be determined
Goal
To be determined.
Description
The province will be hiring a person to be responsible for recalculations, as part of setting up a reorganized Family Law Section of the Office of the Attorney General. This person will have authority to obtain personal financial information under section 25.1 of the Divorce Act.

PAA 5: SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITIES

Information System Improvements

Duration
1997-1999
Goal
To implement efficient information management systems to support the delivery of the Maintenance Enforcement Program.
Description
With the aid of new software, much of it developed in-house, Prince Edward Island has improved its case management process, reduced delays in processing and delivering child support payments, and improved client services. Its efficient, non-commercial maintenance enforcement software, developed with the aid of federal contributions, is available to other small Canadian jurisdictions at no cost. In 1999-2000, the Program updated the accounting module of its application, allowing it to track arrears information more accurately. This also allowed the province to expand the amount of data it sends to the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics for the National Maintenance Enforcement Survey. The implementation of the modifications required database design, testing, documentation writing and staff training.

Direct Deposit and Preauthorized Payments

Duration
1998-2000
Goal
To increase the efficiency of the province's maintenance enforcement processes.
Description
In 1998-1999, Maintenance Enforcement Program client services were enhanced with direct deposit and pre-authorized payment options. These were tested and became operational in 1999-2000.

Automated Voice Response System

Duration
1998-2000
Goal
To provide an effective and efficient response to client enquiries.
Description
The Maintenance Enforcement Program introduced an automated telephone voice response system that allows clients to obtain information (e.g. account balance and date of last payment), freeing staff for other duties. When the automated system cannot provide the information they seek, clients can still reach staff directly or by leaving a message.

FOAEA Link

Duration
1997-1998
Goal
To expedite the flow of action requests and data between the province's Maintenance Enforcement Program and the federal Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance (FOAEA) office.
Description
Prince Edward Island implemented online access to the Department of Justice Canada's FOAEA Section.

Maintenance Enforcement Survey

Duration
1997-1998
Goal
To deliver the provincial data required for the national Maintenance Enforcement Survey.
Description
Prince Edward Island completed the necessary interface development between computer systems in order to remit data to the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics for the priority tables of the National Maintenance Enforcement Survey. The project required modifications in the system's accounting components and subledgers to capture the information needed to prepare the data tables.

Arrears Audit Report

Duration
2000-2001
Goal
To verify and classify arrears cases.
Description
Prince Edward Island's Maintenance Enforcement Program conducted a manual review and audit of all cases showing arrears to assess the magnitude of outstanding commitments and the extent of the problem of incorrectly stated arrears.

PAA 6: RECIPROCAL ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITIES

Feasibility Study: Interprovincial Information Exchange

Duration
2000-2001
Goal
To review requirements for conducting business between the Maintenance Enforcement Program in Prince Edward Island and those in the other Atlantic provinces.
Description
The study focussed on possible technical solutions to problems associated with the exchange of case and client information across jurisdictions. It was planned to address current needs in Atlantic Canada while providing information that could be used in a national study. The work involved producing an inventory of current methods of exchanging information, the technology and applications used in the Atlantic provinces and their immediate development plans, and the methods and medium each Atlantic Maintenance Enforcement Program uses to communicate with other agencies. The study's final report will identify program needs from both client and management perspectives and the common information gathered and stored by jurisdictions. PAA 7: POLICY, RESEARCH AND EVALUATION

Monitoring and Evaluation

Duration
1997-2001
Goal
To monitor or evaluate implementation of guidelines activities and projects.
Description
Prince Edward Island monitors court and alternative dispute resolution approaches and has designed an evaluation framework for pilot projects. In accordance with the framework, the parent education program was evaluated and an evaluation of the information officer function was started.

PAA 8: PUBLIC AWARENESS AND PROFESSIONAL TRAINING

Public Enquiry Line

Duration
1999-2001
Goal
To give parents and others access to information about child support guidelines.
Description
Prince Edward Island allocated federal funds to support the public information telephone service run by the Community Legal Information Association. The province reports that the service experienced an increased demand for child support-related information early in 1999-2000.

For more information about Prince Edward Island's services and programs, contact:

Family Law Co-ordinator
Office of the Attorney General
PO Box 2000
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island C1A 7N8
Telephone: (902) 368-6499

Ms. Debbie Conway
Director, Maintenance Enforcement Program
Office of the Attorney General
PO Box 2290
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island C1A 8C1
Telephone: (902) 368-6398

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