MERCER COUNTY — Having been on the job as part of the county’s Domestic Relations department for more than 38 years, Rand Nikoloff received the state’s highest award for his work involving the collection of child support.
Nikoloff, 60, of Grove City, credits his staff of 27, along with cooperative efforts on a state and federal level, for collections that top any in the country. Mercer County Domestic Relations collects 83.5 percent of all court-ordered support and 82 percent of all past due support, he said, figures that exceed the federal standard of 80 percent and are far above the 70 percent collection rate of other states.
“Most people are unfamiliar with that. They don’t realize that Pennsylvania is so far ahead of the game,” he said.
The local domestic relations office in Mercer collected more than $14.2 million in 2012, he said.
He has been the director of the agency since 1993. He previously had a 15-year career with the county’s Juvenile Probation Office. Elected to the Domestic Relations Board of Directors in 1994, Nikoloff has served on a number of committees, including the Domestic Relations Association of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Child Support Enforcement System.
While chairing the legislative committee he testified before the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee and was integral in forming an intergovernmental agreement between the state Department of Public Welfare, the Domestic Relations agency, the Court of Common Pleas and the county commissioners.
“That was kind of a big deal, because it’s a binding contract that affects our funding and the business practices we maintain. We renew that every five years and it allows our workers on a local level to have some input into how their jobs are done. While our goals are the same, the state is less concerned with how it gets done, just so it gets done,” he said.