The Parenting: It’s A Life (PIAL) team responded to two great opportunities in Washington state in October at the Western Intergovernmental Child Support Engagement Council (WICSEC) and the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (WSCADV), which will be discussed in part two. Program Coordinator Jo Ann Lee and graduate student Maneesha Gammana-Liyanage made the trip together. Gammana-Liyanage reflected, “[Washington] is such a beautiful place. It’s got the best of everything: oceans, mountains, waterfalls, busy cities, and charming countryside.”
WICSEC is a non-profit organization of public and private child support engagement agencies and professionals from states, tribes, and territories west of the Mississippi River. They hold a conference each year to provide opportunities to network and learn from others. PIAL submitted a proposal to present Outreach for the iGen generation: Innovative strategies to talk about child support, a presentation about how the PIAL team utilizes the innovative ways they educate the iGen generation about important and complex topics.
Their proposal was accepted and Dieter Jacobs, Child Support Program Administrator for the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, offered to co-present with them. Through collaboration with Dieter, Lee and Gammana-Liyanage merged their presentation with his.
What was originally expected to be an audience of 30-40 members more than doubled. When they began the presentation, Lee and Gammana-Liyanage were in front of over 100 people. Whether this was due to interest in their topic, or simply because they presented on Monday while everyone was fresh and excited, the large audience brought an elevated level of energy to the room.
“The room moderator had to keep finding additional chairs to bring in and lined the room with them. Even then, there were several people standing in the back of the room. It was wonderful to see so many eager child support staff interested in how to improve the outreach efforts in their states. It was very re-affirming that outreach is a valuable and sought-after addition to what CSRU brings to children and families,” Lee reflected.
The presenters received instant feedback from the audience afterwards. This included questions about the PIAL curriculum, requests for contact information, and general words of gratitude and appreciation for the work PIAL is doing. Gammana-Liyanage expressed, “Overall, we got positive feedback. They were all impressed with what we’re doing in Iowa with regards to child support.”