Family services moves to ‘an office to be proud of’

Lycoming County Courthouse officials marked the first of several renovations with a Monday ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of the family service department’s office.

Judges promised increased efficiency and service.

Now on the fourth floor, Judge Dudley Anderson said they are proud of the new offices.

“This is a culmination of an evolutionary process where we put all of the family court offices together in one location,” he said. “The office in this building has been exemplary in its performance of child support collection.”

The county has always been ranked among the best of the best, said Anderson. Out of 67 counties, Lycoming County is No. 2 in collection of rearages, and first in fifth tier counties in enforcement of support.

“This has been done through great effort and great organization by a number of folks because it’s been consistent over all the years that I’ve been associated with this office, but it has been largely because of the fine staff that have manned this office,” said Anderson.

The county commissioners, too, are pleased to have the physical family services’ office match the staff’s skill level, said Commissioner Jack McKernan.

“This new remodeled space is the first serious work that’s been done in our courthouse since it was built in the early 70s,” he said.

The move is the first in a multi-phase courthouse remodel and space renovation plan that will take place over the next year and a half.

All the work for this office was completed in-house by the county maintenance department.

“Having the ability to do this work gave us a lot of control over the project and it also saved the taxpayers thousands of dollars,” said McKernan.

Money will also be saved by having a more efficient office space, said Judge Joy McCoy.

“This provides convenience to the public and efficiency to the offices which work in conjunction with each other on a daily basis,” said McCoy.

Before, agencies that often worked together would have to travel up and down stairs and their offices had become empty through position attrition.

The renovation also included a kid’s room to occupy children while their parents are in court.

“Many of these children are upset and stressed about the situation that they are in which brings them to the courthouse, and this waiting area helps to ease their trauma a little bit,” she said.

A same-floor child waiting room is critical to smooth functioning services in the courthouse and also reduces stress for the children.

But, it’s the people working in the offices that make family services what it is today, said McCoy.

“It’s the hard work and dedication of these employees who handle the challenge which their jobs bring. They handle it with grace, compassion and professionalism,” she said. “I believe it’s these qualities which keep our county in the top rankings month after month.”