Infusing child support programs with innovation and a passion for service
This interview marks the fifth installment in the Making an Impact series — a collection of profiles and articles introducing some of our best and brightest leaders. Throughout the year, we will spotlight individuals who are making tremendous impacts in the government sectors we serve.
Maurice Franklin, Vice President, Child Support Services
Maurice leads operations for our child support services programs. His teams support critical state and local projects, including Illinois child support, the California LifeLine program, and California SSI/SSDI assessment and advocacy programs for homeless adults and children in foster care.
We recently caught up with Maurice at his Chicago office to discuss his insights into running effective program operations. These include the importance of developing good relationships, leadership strategy, and the role technology can play in helping governments achieve more impactful outcomes.
You joined Maximus as a child support specialist and rose through the ranks to become a vice president. Has that given you better insight into operations and leadership?
Oh, for sure. I started at Maximus about 17 years ago as a review and adjustment specialist for the Illinois child support project. That's where I learned how important it is to get orders right-sized to increase collections. The job made me want to learn more about the child support system — and ways we could improve processes to get better results. I didn't get the chance right away because the contract for the work changed hands. Luckily, that opportunity came back around a few years later when I rejoined Maximus to lead the early intervention program in Illinois. Coming back to that work reinforced my commitment to human services and the populations they support. It also set me on a career path with Maximus that has allowed me to grow and become a strong advocate for vulnerable communities across the country. It's a tremendous feeling to work with teams that have such a positive impact. Our projects provide the type of vital support that can create opportunities that set people most in need on a path to growth and independence.
What is your approach to leadership and mentoring?
I'm a leader who tries to listen as much as I speak. I want people who work with me to feel comfortable giving input, which can help me make more informed decisions. I'm also a leader who supports my teams. I try to get to the root of issues when they arise to find solutions instead of wasting time assigning blame. I believe that it's important to look beyond the obvious and learn what people truly enjoy about their work. This approach can often uncover untapped skills and talents that can lead to greater professional satisfaction and advancement for team members while also improving the team's impact. My approach to mentoring is similar. I present opportunities to folks who show potential and then provide them with the help they need to excel.
Taking on a leadership role offers the opportunity to develop strong client partnerships and to build teams that have the hearts and heads for human services advocacy. If you can do both effectively, the results are profoundly rewarding.
What do you love most about your job?
I enjoy problem-solving. I work in partnership with my clients and with my teams to develop solutions. I’m currently responsible for about 17 projects, so I'm always in strategy mode. I aim to bring as much creative thinking, flexibility, and curiosity as possible to the task when there's a problem to tackle. We try to be tactical about finding ways to do things better to improve results.
What about challenges?
The biggest challenge I face right now is developing sustainable work-from-home strategies for our teams as we tackle the challenges of working during a pandemic. The top priority is making sure our people stay healthy and safe, while still delivering quality services to our clients. Maintaining excellent client relationships and encouraging my teams to think around the box has helped tremendously.
If you could snap your fingers and solve one problem facing governments in 2020, what would it be?
In a perfect world, I would update technology across the board so government agencies could better keep pace with the challenges of 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed how antiquated many government systems are. Retiring legacy systems — and investing in modern technology platforms — will help government agencies better serve vulnerable people in the coming decades.