CSRU contract staff attend, present at WICSEC 2017

Abby Stanek, Outreach Coordinator, and Grant Nason, Technical Writer and Trainer, recently presented at the Western Interstate Child Support Enforcement Council’s (WICSEC) annual conference in Anchorage, Alaska, September 24-28, 2017.


The title of Abby’s presentation was Outreach Strategies: Combing old school and new school approaches for successful outcomes (see picture 1). The title of Grant’s presentation was eLearning: No longer the last frontier (see picture 2)Abby and Grant also hosted a table at the Inter-Jurisdictional Fair (IJ Fair), where they educated attendees about CWRTP and the Child Support Training Partnership (see picture 3).


WICSEC is an organization of public and private child support professionals from the states, tribes, and territories west of the Mississippi. They are committed to improving child support enforcement for the benefit of the children and parents that they serve.



CWRTP Welcomes New Paternity Affidavit Outreach Coordinator

Abby Stanek

Abby Stanek

When Abby Stanek was growing up in Harcourt, Iowa, she dreamed of being a teacher, a lawyer, or a shoe salesperson. Although she is none of the above, she is using her knowledge of Iowa law to educate hospitals and birthing centers about the Voluntary Paternity Affidavit Program and promoting its benefits to unmarried parents. In May 2016, Abby joined the CWRTP staff as the Outreach Coordinator for the Voluntary Paternity Affidavit Program and has embraced her new role with enthusiasm. “In the past, I performed outreach efforts for youth in bioenergy and agriculture and learned how to promote programs and events,” she says. That experience will come in handy as she reaches out to community organizations across the state.

As required by state and federal mandates, every hospital and birthing center that delivers babies is required to provide information to unmarried parents about the Voluntary Paternity Affidavit process. To do this effectively, hospital staff, including nurses, social workers, and notary publics, need to be educated about how the Paternity Affidavit process works. That’s where Abby steps in as outreach coordinator. She serves as a resource for birthing hospitals and communities wanting more information about the process and its benefits.

“Increasing awareness will be a challenge,” Abby admits. “Not a lot of hospitals or organizations are aware of the paternity affidavit training program.” In an effort to generate publicity, Abby intends to publish a bi-monthly newsletter that will be sent to every hospital and birthing center in Iowa, as well as other community organizations and program stakeholders. During the other months, she plans on hosting Webinars on various topics identified by hospitals. “I also hope to build a relationship with the Bureau of Vital Records to identify and correct mistakes being made in the process and increasing the number of children with legally identified fathers,” she states. In an effort to achieve these goals, Abby has been researching paternity affidavit initiatives in other states, conducting a literature review on the benefits of establishing paternity, and developing marketing materials for the program. She anticipates the most rewarding part of the job will be making a difference in children’s lives and educating parents on the financial, social, and psychological benefits of establishing paternity.

As expected, the position involves a great deal of travel, which Abby looks forward to. She notes, “A year from now, I hope to have visited half of the birthing hospitals in Iowa.” She’s also aware of how the Voluntary Paternity Affidavit Program fits in with the broader world of child support. “Establishing paternity is the first—and vital—step in allowing for child support, visitation rights, and so on,” she explains.

Abby received her B.S. in business marketing from ISU in May 2015 and is currently working on her M.S. in agricultural education with an anticipated graduation date of 2017. She and her husband, Will, live in Gowrie. CWRTP welcomes Abby aboard!

Busy summer for PIAL

The PIAL team has had a busy summer so far!


Educators learn about the PIAL curriculum and discuss issues that youth face in high school at the IFCSE Conference.

In addition to attending the Iowa Jump$tart Conference in Ankeny (June 21), they have also presented at the Iowa Family and Consumer Science Education Conference (IFCSE) in Cedar Falls and the Iowa 4-H Youth Conference in Ames.

PIAL held a session at IFCSE on June 13 and 14, 2016 about what challenges educators see their youth facing and what they think youth need to know for the future. Comments from educators about the current challenges facing today’s youth included a lack of respect for others, inappropriate language, unhealthy boundaries, and inaccurate information surrounding sex and sexually transmitted infections. Are you interested in learning about how to respond to these challenges? Subscribe to the PIAL newsletter for answers! Email Jo Ann Lee for more information at

Iowa 4-H Youth Conference

The PIAL team educates youth about how to have a positive high school adventure at the Iowa 4-H Youth Conference.

Iowa State University was also home to another outreach event from the PIAL team at the Iowa 4-H Youth Conference, held June 28-30, 2016. Youth learned about how to survive high school life at the workshop, including peer pressure and make positive life decisions. PIAL offers 10 curriculum modules that focus on various aspects of parenting and high school life, and the workshop was a hybrid of several modules. Learn more and download the curriculum here.

The PIAL team also educated booth visitors about the costs of raising a child and the importance of budgets and savings while at the Iowa Jump$tart Conference on June 21, 2016.

For more information about PIAL and to download the curriculum, check out their website!

PIAL visits Jump$tart conference

PIAL staff ran an information booth yesterday at the Jump$tart conference for financial literacy, at DMACC in Ankeny. The booth was part of our ongoing outreach to Iowa teachers about the benefits of using the PIAL curriculum. For courses addressing financial literacy, the most relevant PIAL materials are Module 5, The costs of raising a child, and Module 6, Managing money.

Click this link to view or download the entire curriculum, and look for us at the 4-H conference next week in Ames!

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PIAL visits GMG High School

As the school year ends, the PIAL staff gets ready to attend summer conferences and reach out to Iowa teachers. But before we do, we’d like to thank Sandra Tracy of GMG High School in Garwin, Iowa. Last month, we facilitated the entire PIAL curriculum in Ms.Tracy’s FCS class. Ms. Tracy was pleased at how engaged her students were throughout the visits, and noted that “the module on costs was a real eye-opener. They had no idea how expensive it was to raise a child!”

If you’d like to arrange your own classroom visit for the 2016-17 school year, please contact PIAL coordinator Jo Ann Lee at or (515) 294-9061.

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CWRTP research improves child support collections

CWRTP staff have recently completed two data analysis projects that will help the Iowa Department of Human Services’ Child Support Recovery Unit (CSRU) improve collections. The Payment Analysis project identifies parents who are at risk of falling behind on child support payments, and the Arrears project identifies parents behind on payments who are most likely to get back on track. Both projects use predictive modeling to help CSRU field staff prioritize which cases to work on, either by contacting risky payors in advance, or by encouraging parents in arrears to pay more consistently.

CSRU program planner Shannon Thill says the research will help field staff take a more proactive approach to their cases. “Instead of waiting for them to fall behind, we can contact the parents most likely to get behind and encourage them to stay on track. That helps us develop relationships that will ensure steady payments for years to come.” The next step will be to pilot these proactive approaches in select field offices, before implementing them statewide.

Both projects succeeded thanks to extensive collaboration between CSRU staff with knowledge of field operations, and the CWRTP data analysts who developed the predictive models – graduate assistants Feng Zhao, Dong Zhang, and Chen Peng, statistician Erkuan Wang, and Director Jan Melby.

Jan, Dong, Chen

Dr. Jan Melby, Chen Peng, Dong Zhang


CWRTP trainer wins CYtation award

Congratulations to CWRTP trainer Martha Stewart, who received an ISU CYtation award this month for her exemplary service to the university. Among her many accomplishments for the past year was the Connections Equal Collections (CEC) training program, which she delivered to Iowa Child Support Recovery Unit staff throughout the state. CEC offers psychology-based instruction on developing constructive relationships with non-custodial parents, in order to improve child support collections.

Martha has been with CWRTP since 2003. According to CWRTP supervisor Kate Goudy-Haht, “Martha takes great pride in the training she creates. She will not say it is complete until she is fully satisfied it will meet the expectations of her audience. She is sincerely dedicated to her work, offers unconditional support to her co-workers, and is a true asset to the Child Welfare Research & Training Project.”

Martha award

Martha Stewart & Dr. Jonathan Wickert, ISU Senior VP and Provost

PIAL adds outreach coordinator

Parenting: It’s a Life is pleased to announce that Jo Ann Lee has joined the program as a full-time outreach coordinator. She will be responsible for coordinating PIAL staff and classroom visits, and expanding the program to reach alternative high schools, college-age students, and community organizations that serve at-risk youth. She will also use her knowledge of trauma-informed care to update the PIAL curriculum module on risk and protective factors.

Jo Ann has worked in child welfare since 2007 and spent the past 3 years as a CWRTP trainer, delivering courses to DHS social workers and their community partners. She is excited to roll up her sleeves and get back to working with young people. Welcome Jo Ann!

Jo Ann cropped

PIAL begins outreach campaign for ISU students

This week, Parenting: It’s A Life begins an outreach campaign for ISU students with children. Thanks to financial support from the ISU Women’s and Diversity Grants program, we are distributing brochures and posters to help connect ISU moms with helpful resources, both on campus and within the Iowa Department of Human Services. Brochures are available at the Thielen Student Health Center, Margaret Sloss Women’s Center, and ISU Multicultural Center.

PIAL research assistant Ellie Havlik helped create the brochures and coordinate with on-campus resources. “We’re excited to make these resources more available to young mothers trying to finish college, and to see what new directions the program can go in,” said Havlik. PIAL is currently looking at ways to expand the program into community colleges across the state, to provide resources to emerging adults (ages 18-25).


PIAL poster pic gen info Legal father poster pic Brochure pic 1 Brochure pic 2

CWRTP supervisor wins award

On September 21, Kate Goudy-Haht received the university’s Professional and Scientific Outstanding New Professional Award, at a presentation in the Memorial Union’s Great Hall. This award recognizes professional and scientific staff who have demonstrated outstanding accomplishments unusually early in their careers.

Kate Goudy-Haht has been with ISU’s Child Welfare Research and Training Project since 2010. She has coordinated and managed the Child Support Recovery Unit (CSRU) Training contract with the Iowa Department of Human Services. Along with these duties, she has also been a member of the ISU Professional and Scientific Council since 2012. She is the current Secretary/Treasurer, and has served on the council’s Professional Development Committee.

In support of her award application, one colleague wrote: “Kate has worked with patience and persistence to elevate our reputation with CSRU. She seems to have perfected the tight-rope technique of balancing ISU’s research and teaching mission with CSRU’s staffing and training needs.”


(Photo by Christopher Gannon/Iowa State University)

Kate Goudy-Haht with President Steven Leath (photo by Christopher Gannon/Iowa State University)