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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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  • Individual Author: Harris, Leslie Joan
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2017

    More than half of all American children younger than 18 are eligible for child support; if child support ends at age 18, the usual age of majority, many of these children may be unable to attend post-secondary school because they cannot afford it or, if they get loans to pay for school, will leave school with very large debts. In about a third of all jurisdictions – sixteen states and the District of Columbia – the law allows courts to award post-majority child support for education to address this problem. This paper addresses whether such laws have had a measurable effect, why more states do not have the laws, and whether current circumstances support a recommendation that other states enact such laws.

    The paper first reports the results of my empirical study of the effect of state laws allowing courts to order support for post-majority education. These laws are significantly correlated with a higher proportion of the young people in the state obtaining education beyond high school and graduating from college.

    Since it has probably been assumed all along that post...

    More than half of all American children younger than 18 are eligible for child support; if child support ends at age 18, the usual age of majority, many of these children may be unable to attend post-secondary school because they cannot afford it or, if they get loans to pay for school, will leave school with very large debts. In about a third of all jurisdictions – sixteen states and the District of Columbia – the law allows courts to award post-majority child support for education to address this problem. This paper addresses whether such laws have had a measurable effect, why more states do not have the laws, and whether current circumstances support a recommendation that other states enact such laws.

    The paper first reports the results of my empirical study of the effect of state laws allowing courts to order support for post-majority education. These laws are significantly correlated with a higher proportion of the young people in the state obtaining education beyond high school and graduating from college.

    Since it has probably been assumed all along that post-secondary educational support laws help increase the educational achievements of young people, other concerns must convince legislatures that they should not enact such laws. The most important is that requiring parents to provide financial help to their “adult” children unduly interferes with the parents’ judgments about when childhood should end and how to help their children become independent adults. The second part of the paper examines the history of the development of the legal child support duty, finding that since the earliest legal steps to make parents’ duties to support and educate legally enforceable were taken, opponents have objected and asserted that such matters should be within parental discretion. The study shows that over the last two centuries, as society has become more complex, the social understanding of teenagers’ place in society and how much education they require to be effective citizens has evolved. This change, combined with increases in family dissolution, has produced laws that dictate how much schooling children should have and, when necessary, when parents must pay for it.

    The third section of the paper examine current conditions, including the increasingly common expectation that young people will seek advanced education and the increasingly high costs of that education. Based on these changes and the efficacy of post-secondary child support laws, I argue that today courts should routinely have the authority to order parents who are not living with their children to continue providing financial assistance to the children for education beyond high school. (Author introduction)

  • Individual Author: McMullen, Judith G.
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2001

    This Article examines the nature of post-high school education and discusses whether parents who have divorced should ever be required to pay for the education of the offspring of their failed marriage. As of this writing, only a handful of states empower judges to order payment of post-majority educational expenses. Most states provide for imposition of child support obligations only until the child reaches age eighteen. Sometimes this is extended to age nineteen if the child is still attending high school full-time. Parents are free to enter settlement agreements or other contracts to provide college expenses for their children, and those agreements will be enforced (or not) according to the principles of contract law. However, parents of intact families can choose to provide college expenses or not, and many divorced parents are opposed to the policy of requiring them to provide what their married counterparts need not. This Article concludes that the law should not force divorced parents to contribute to the post-majority education of their children. (excerpt from author...

    This Article examines the nature of post-high school education and discusses whether parents who have divorced should ever be required to pay for the education of the offspring of their failed marriage. As of this writing, only a handful of states empower judges to order payment of post-majority educational expenses. Most states provide for imposition of child support obligations only until the child reaches age eighteen. Sometimes this is extended to age nineteen if the child is still attending high school full-time. Parents are free to enter settlement agreements or other contracts to provide college expenses for their children, and those agreements will be enforced (or not) according to the principles of contract law. However, parents of intact families can choose to provide college expenses or not, and many divorced parents are opposed to the policy of requiring them to provide what their married counterparts need not. This Article concludes that the law should not force divorced parents to contribute to the post-majority education of their children. (excerpt from author introduction)

  • Individual Author: Osborne, Cynthia; Dillon, Daniel; Bellows, Laura
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2013

    The importance of a college education has risen dramatically in recent decades. Individuals with a college degree have higher paying jobs, increased career flexibility, and are less likely to be unemployed; meanwhile, broad shifts in the U.S. economy continue to trim the number of jobs available to those without a college degree, further amplifying the significance of higher education. Though many parents recognize the importance of sending their children to college, financing a college education has also become increasingly difficult. Tuition costs continue to climb, raising the barrier to entry and saddling many low- and middle-income students with substantial student loan debt. This report presents evaluation outcomes from the Child Support for College (CS4C) pilot program, an innovative collaboration between public and private entities developed to promote college savings and attendance among those in the Texas child support system through incentivized college savings accounts. (Author introduction)

    The importance of a college education has risen dramatically in recent decades. Individuals with a college degree have higher paying jobs, increased career flexibility, and are less likely to be unemployed; meanwhile, broad shifts in the U.S. economy continue to trim the number of jobs available to those without a college degree, further amplifying the significance of higher education. Though many parents recognize the importance of sending their children to college, financing a college education has also become increasingly difficult. Tuition costs continue to climb, raising the barrier to entry and saddling many low- and middle-income students with substantial student loan debt. This report presents evaluation outcomes from the Child Support for College (CS4C) pilot program, an innovative collaboration between public and private entities developed to promote college savings and attendance among those in the Texas child support system through incentivized college savings accounts. (Author introduction)

  • Individual Author: Brandabur, Matthew
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2012

    This Note proposes that every state should individually adopt legislation expanding the age of termination to twenty-one. In order to adequately address the continuing needs of parents and children, this Note also suggests that any state enacting such a law should include an opportunity for the court to increase child support obligations for issues such as post-secondary education and health problems, while allowing the court the discretion to decrease or eliminate child support obligations if certain factors are met. (Excerpt from Author Introduction)

    This Note proposes that every state should individually adopt legislation expanding the age of termination to twenty-one. In order to adequately address the continuing needs of parents and children, this Note also suggests that any state enacting such a law should include an opportunity for the court to increase child support obligations for issues such as post-secondary education and health problems, while allowing the court the discretion to decrease or eliminate child support obligations if certain factors are met. (Excerpt from Author Introduction)

  • Individual Author: Avellar, Sarah; Clarkwest, Andrew; Dion, M. Robin; Asheer, Subuhi; Borradaile, Kelley; Angus, Megan H.; Novak, Timothy; Redline, Julie; Zaveri, Heather; Zukiewicz, Marykate
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2012

    In the past few decades, research showing the advantages to children of being raised by both parents in healthy, stable relationships has led to an increase in couple-based programs designed to enhance relationship or co-parenting skills. In response to interest in such programming, the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation within the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), engaged Mathematica Policy Research to conduct the Strengthening Families Evidence Review (SFER) to identify and review studies of family-strengthening programs. This catalog focuses on studies of programs that served low-income couples; a separate catalog presents studies of programs that served low-income fathers.

    This catalog compiles information from 54 studies of 39 programs. Each study description provides details on the research, such as study design and characteristics of those included in the sample, and of the programs, such as structure, staffing and operations. The descriptions are based on the information provided by the study...

    In the past few decades, research showing the advantages to children of being raised by both parents in healthy, stable relationships has led to an increase in couple-based programs designed to enhance relationship or co-parenting skills. In response to interest in such programming, the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation within the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), engaged Mathematica Policy Research to conduct the Strengthening Families Evidence Review (SFER) to identify and review studies of family-strengthening programs. This catalog focuses on studies of programs that served low-income couples; a separate catalog presents studies of programs that served low-income fathers.

    This catalog compiles information from 54 studies of 39 programs. Each study description provides details on the research, such as study design and characteristics of those included in the sample, and of the programs, such as structure, staffing and operations. The descriptions are based on the information provided by the study authors and may not include complete information on individual programs.

    Most of the studies analyze participant outcomes—for example, status of and satisfaction with relationships—but vary in the strength of their evidence for determining whether the programs themselves caused the reported outcomes. To help readers assess the strength of the evidence on outcomes, we rated the studies based on the likelihood that the estimated effects are the result of the program rather than other factors, such as natural change over time. The ratings categories—high, moderate, low, and unrated—are based on each study’s design, execution, and analysis.

    A high rating means the study is well-designed and executed, and the estimates of effects or impacts reported can be attributed to the program. A study with a moderate rating is fairly well designed and executed but has some weaknesses, which means the authors have not been able to rule out definitively that the estimated effects are not due at least in part to factors other than the program. A study is assigned a low rating when there are weaknesses in the study design or analytical methods that mean the study cannot isolate potential effects of the program from other factors— that is, we do not know if the outcomes are a result of the program, participant characteristics, or other influences. Studies that only focus on aspects other than participant outcomes, such as program operations and implementation, are unrated.

    Of the 54 studies, 7 have high or moderate ratings, 18 have low ratings, and the remaining 29 are unrated studies, either because they do not include participant outcomes or they are additional sources and overlap with a rated study. Studies that received a high rating provide strong evidence that the program studied led to outcomes that can be attributed to program services and were different from what would have occurred without the program. Although there is no clear evidence that programs in studies with low ratings or those that are unrated led to outcomes of interest, the studies provide information on services and approaches that have been implemented, and descriptive information about operational successes and challenges (e.g., those related to recruitment and retention). The programs they assess are potentially promising or innovative but have not yet undergone evaluations that establish the extent to which they result in positive outcomes for participants. (author abstract)

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