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The SSRC Library allows visitors to access materials related to self-sufficiency programs, practice and research. Visitors can view common search terms, conduct a keyword search or create a custom search using any combination of the filters at the left side of this page. To conduct a keyword search, type a term or combination of terms into the search box below, select whether you want to search the exact phrase or the words in any order, and click on the blue button to the right of the search box to view relevant results.

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  • Author: Mage, Caroline; Baird, Peter; Miller, Cynthia
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2019

    This study brief describes an alternative to the civil contempt process intended to increase engagement and consistent and reliable payments among noncompliant noncustodial parents. The Procedural Justice-Informed Alternatives to Contempt (PJAC) demonstration project was developed by OCSE to adapt and apply principles of procedural justice to child support compliance eforts. Procedural justice is also referred to as procedural fairness. It is “the idea that how individuals regard the justice system is tied more to the perceived fairness of the process and how they were treated rather than to the perceived fairness of the outcome.” This approach has produced notable increases in compliance and long term rule-following behavior in criminal justice and judicial settings. (Excerpt from author introduction)

    This study brief describes an alternative to the civil contempt process intended to increase engagement and consistent and reliable payments among noncompliant noncustodial parents. The Procedural Justice-Informed Alternatives to Contempt (PJAC) demonstration project was developed by OCSE to adapt and apply principles of procedural justice to child support compliance eforts. Procedural justice is also referred to as procedural fairness. It is “the idea that how individuals regard the justice system is tied more to the perceived fairness of the process and how they were treated rather than to the perceived fairness of the outcome.” This approach has produced notable increases in compliance and long term rule-following behavior in criminal justice and judicial settings. (Excerpt from author introduction)

  • Author: Cancian, Maria; Meyer, Daniel R.; Wood, Robert
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2019

    The final implementation report on the National Child Support Noncustodial Parent Employment Demonstration (CSPED) was released on January 15, 2019. It reflects demonstration activities that commenced in fall 2012, when the eight child support agencies competitvely awarded grants by OSCE to participate in CSPED began a one-year planning period, and concluded with the end of the demonstration period in September 2017. 

    Grantees designated 18 implementation sites, ranging from one to five counties per grantee. Grantees enrolled participants in the demonstration over a three year period, from October 2013 through September 2016. Half of the demonstration's 10,161 enrollees were randomly assigned to receive CSPED services, including enhanced child support services, employment assistance, parenting education delivered in a peer-supported format and case management. Half were assigned to a control group and did not receive extra services. On average, participants assigned to the extra services group received about 22 hours of services. 

    As the report describes, throughout...

    The final implementation report on the National Child Support Noncustodial Parent Employment Demonstration (CSPED) was released on January 15, 2019. It reflects demonstration activities that commenced in fall 2012, when the eight child support agencies competitvely awarded grants by OSCE to participate in CSPED began a one-year planning period, and concluded with the end of the demonstration period in September 2017. 

    Grantees designated 18 implementation sites, ranging from one to five counties per grantee. Grantees enrolled participants in the demonstration over a three year period, from October 2013 through September 2016. Half of the demonstration's 10,161 enrollees were randomly assigned to receive CSPED services, including enhanced child support services, employment assistance, parenting education delivered in a peer-supported format and case management. Half were assigned to a control group and did not receive extra services. On average, participants assigned to the extra services group received about 22 hours of services. 

    As the report describes, throughout the demonstration, CSPED grantees and their partners grappled with a complex array of challenges. These included reorienting child support staff and systems toward helping low-income noncustodial parents obtain employment; recruiting noncustodial parents to enroll in CSPED; keeping participants engaged in services; addressing participants' barriers to employment; establishing partnerships and meshing different organizational cultures; and helping participants with parenting time issues.

    The successes and challenges experienced by CSPED grantees offer important insights into strategies from which future programs serving similar populations can learn, adapt, and innovate. These include investing in strong partnerships and communication systems; drawing on strong leaders with a commitment to facilitating a cultural shift towards a customer-oriented apporach within child support agencies; staffing programs with employees who support CSPED's goals, and hiring and retaining a sufficient number of staff to manage large and challening caseloads; developing services that take into account the substantial barriers to employment faced by the target population; and designing services to promote sustained participant engagement. (Author abstract)

  • Author: Cancian, Maria; Meyer, Daniel R.; Wood, Robert G.
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2019

    The final impact report on the National Child Support Noncustodial Parent Employment Demonstration (CSPED) was released on March 14, 2019. The primary goal of the intervention was to improve the reliable payment of child support in order to improve child well-being and avoid public costs. Key outcomes related to noncustodial parents' (1) child support orders, payments and compliance, as well as attitudes toward the child support program; (2) work and earnings; (3) sense of responsibility for their children.

    Over 10,000 noncustodial parents with difficulty meeting their child support obligations were enrolled between October 2013 and 2016; half were randomly assigned to receive extra services as part of CPSED while the other half received regular services. The evaluation results are based on a comparison of outcomes between these two groups, drawing on data from administrative records and surveys administered at enrollment and one year later. 

    As described in the report, results show that the program led to modest declines in child support orders (consistent with "...

    The final impact report on the National Child Support Noncustodial Parent Employment Demonstration (CSPED) was released on March 14, 2019. The primary goal of the intervention was to improve the reliable payment of child support in order to improve child well-being and avoid public costs. Key outcomes related to noncustodial parents' (1) child support orders, payments and compliance, as well as attitudes toward the child support program; (2) work and earnings; (3) sense of responsibility for their children.

    Over 10,000 noncustodial parents with difficulty meeting their child support obligations were enrolled between October 2013 and 2016; half were randomly assigned to receive extra services as part of CPSED while the other half received regular services. The evaluation results are based on a comparison of outcomes between these two groups, drawing on data from administrative records and surveys administered at enrollment and one year later. 

    As described in the report, results show that the program led to modest declines in child support orders (consistent with "right-sizing" these orders), and even smaller reductions in payments. While there was no significant change in child support compliance, CSPED resulted in major improvements in noncustodial parents' attitudes towards the program. There was some evidence of increases in earnings, but not in employment. Noncustodial parents' sense of responsibility to their children also increased. 

    The evaluation suggests that the potential exists for child support agencies to lead broader interventions, incorporating components beyond child support services alone, aimed at helping unemployed and underemployed noncustodial parents to increase the reliability of their financial support for their children. Results suggest these effects can improve noncustodial parents' attitudes towards the child support program and sense of responsibility for their children, and reduce punitive enforcement with bigger impacts on right-sizing orders than on reducing payments. (Author abstract)

  • Author: Turetsky, Vicki
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2019

    Two decades of research present a stark message to Maryland policymakers: Unrealistic child support policies and practices entangle low-income black families in poverty and have become a destabilizing force in the Baltimore community. Child support orders set beyond the ability of noncustodial parents to comply push them out of low-wage jobs, drown them in debt, hound them into the underground economy, and chase them out of their children’s lives. Of Maryland parents who paid all of their current support, they were expected to pay 18 percent of their earnings toward child support. Parents who paid the least amount were expected to pay more than 70 percent of their income. Parents who struggle to pay some or all of their child support often have low incomes – earning below $20,000 per year. This disparity is unfair and unsustainable. In our latest report, Reforming Child Support to Improve Outcomes for Children and Families, author Vicki Turetsky, who served as the commissioner for the U.S. office of child support enforcement for nearly eight years, examines the data and finds...

    Two decades of research present a stark message to Maryland policymakers: Unrealistic child support policies and practices entangle low-income black families in poverty and have become a destabilizing force in the Baltimore community. Child support orders set beyond the ability of noncustodial parents to comply push them out of low-wage jobs, drown them in debt, hound them into the underground economy, and chase them out of their children’s lives. Of Maryland parents who paid all of their current support, they were expected to pay 18 percent of their earnings toward child support. Parents who paid the least amount were expected to pay more than 70 percent of their income. Parents who struggle to pay some or all of their child support often have low incomes – earning below $20,000 per year. This disparity is unfair and unsustainable. In our latest report, Reforming Child Support to Improve Outcomes for Children and Families, author Vicki Turetsky, who served as the commissioner for the U.S. office of child support enforcement for nearly eight years, examines the data and finds that it is time for Maryland to reform its child support system. Not only are orders for many low-income parents set unrealistically high, but policies around enforcement and collection are unnecessarily punitive. For example, people who fail to pay child support can have their license suspended. But the research shows that this strategy further interferes with low-income parents’ ability to pay by affecting their ability to find and maintain employment and does not yield more money for the state. The report focuses on 15 policy recommendations that Maryland should implement to increase the effectiveness of our child support system. Three key evidence-based strategies underlie the policy recommendations in the report:

    1. Set child support orders that reflect parents’ actual ability to pay.
    2. Reduce uncollectible child support debt.
    3. Ensure that children, not the state, receive the money when their parents pay child support.

    By focusing on these three evidence-based strategies—and the specific policy recommendations in this report—we hope to offer promising alternatives that better meet the needs of low-income children and families. (Author introduction)

  • Author: Cozzolino, Elizabeth
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2018

    Previous studies of poverty governance have focused on the welfare system, the criminal justice system, and the connections between them. Yet less attention has been paid to a third institution that bridges the gap between these two systems: child support enforcement. Jailing for child support nonpayment is one of many mechanisms of child support enforcement, but little is known about this tactic. Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, the author examines the process of nonresident fathers’ (1) acquiring a formal support order, (2) accruing child support debt, and (3) being jailed for this debt. The author proposes two pathways into jail for child support nonpayment—public assistance and relationship context—and demonstrates how each pathway affects the risk for jail. Overall, 14 percent of debtors spend time in jail for child support by the time their children are nine years old. (Author abstract)

    Previous studies of poverty governance have focused on the welfare system, the criminal justice system, and the connections between them. Yet less attention has been paid to a third institution that bridges the gap between these two systems: child support enforcement. Jailing for child support nonpayment is one of many mechanisms of child support enforcement, but little is known about this tactic. Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, the author examines the process of nonresident fathers’ (1) acquiring a formal support order, (2) accruing child support debt, and (3) being jailed for this debt. The author proposes two pathways into jail for child support nonpayment—public assistance and relationship context—and demonstrates how each pathway affects the risk for jail. Overall, 14 percent of debtors spend time in jail for child support by the time their children are nine years old. (Author abstract)

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