The Fairbanks Child Support Services office will permanently close its doors on June 28, according to Division of Child Support Services Director Carol Beecher.
An announcement posted to the Alaska Child Support Services Division Facebook page identified that the closure is “due to the changing economic needs of Alaska.” Beecher told the News-Miner on Wednesday that the state’s current budget crisis was a consideration in the decision to close the Fairbanks office, which has been in operation since the mid 1970s.
“I would say the budget is always a consideration,” Beecher said. “We’re always looking for ways to be more efficient.”
The Fairbanks office is the last Child Support Services field office in the state. After its closure, the only physical office will be the main office located in Anchorage. The Juneau office was closed about three years ago, Beecher noted, with the Wasilla office closed before that.
“There’s a multifold reason we are closing it,” Beecher said. “It’s largely due to the fact that most of our services we provide are distance jobs. The services we have can be accessed online or achieved through a phone call.”
Since about 2014, only one person, Lauri Kobierowski, has worked in the Fairbanks office, Beecher noted.
“It doesn’t make sense for us to continue with a lease for a one person office when those things are available online or by phone,” Beecher said, adding that Kobierowski has already accepted another position with a “different state agency” and CSS will be integrating the Fairbanks position into its Anchorage office to decrease caseloads of other workers.
The lease for the Fairbanks office sits at about $22,000 a year, according to a fact sheet distributed by the office of Department of Revenue Commissioner Bruce Tangeman.
Beecher noted that the Fairbanks office sees an average of only about 15 people a day and about 300 people a month, most of whom are there to drop off paperwork or make payments, both services that are available online, she added.
Kobierowski was unable to be reached for comment. Several members of the Fairbanks public responded to the CCS Facebook post announcing the Fairbanks closure with sentiments of gratitude to Kobierowski for her work in the office.
“This is not something I had ever wanted to see happen because I love this job,” Kobierowski commented back. “It is what it is. I can’t stop it and I have learned in life that you just have to learn how to roll with the punches. But thank you all for your kind words you have no idea how good that makes me feel.”
Following the June 28 closure, all phone calls can be directed to the CSS main line at (907) 269-6900. The Anchorage office will continue accepting walk-ins, but scheduling appointments ahead of time is advised.
Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMPolitics.