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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: Farrell, Mary; Morrison, Carly
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2019

    The Behavioral Interventions for Child Support Services (BICS) project aims to improve federally funded child support services by increasing program efficiency, developing interventions informed by behavioral science, and building a culture of rapid-cycle evaluation. The Texas Office of the Attorney General (OAG) and the BICS team developed an intervention designed to increase the percentage of employed parents who made payments during the first months after an order was established. The intervention, called Start Smart, was designed to inform parents about the likely delay in income withholding and to help them plan to make payments during that time. Start Smart used strategies from behavioral science to clarify the process and encourage parents to make required payments. Start Smart was implemented in four regions of Texas: Amarillo, Dallas, El Paso, and Paris/Tyler.

    Start Smart increased the percentage of parents who made payments in the first month after an order was established by 4.9 percentage points, from 56.5 percent to 61.4 percent. This difference is...

    The Behavioral Interventions for Child Support Services (BICS) project aims to improve federally funded child support services by increasing program efficiency, developing interventions informed by behavioral science, and building a culture of rapid-cycle evaluation. The Texas Office of the Attorney General (OAG) and the BICS team developed an intervention designed to increase the percentage of employed parents who made payments during the first months after an order was established. The intervention, called Start Smart, was designed to inform parents about the likely delay in income withholding and to help them plan to make payments during that time. Start Smart used strategies from behavioral science to clarify the process and encourage parents to make required payments. Start Smart was implemented in four regions of Texas: Amarillo, Dallas, El Paso, and Paris/Tyler.

    Start Smart increased the percentage of parents who made payments in the first month after an order was established by 4.9 percentage points, from 56.5 percent to 61.4 percent. This difference is statistically significant at the 10 percent level (which suggests that it is due to the Start Smart intervention rather than random chance), and represents a 9 percent increase in payments made during the first month. Start Smart did not produce statistically significant differences in payments made in the second or third month. (Edited author overview)

  • Individual Author: Anzelone, Caitlin; Timm, Jonathan; Kusayeva, Yana
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2018

    State child support programs secure financial support for children whose parents live apart. These programs establish paternity, set orders for the amounts parents are required to pay, and collect and distribute payments. An essential step in the process of establishing paternity and setting an order of support is delivering legal documents to the person named as a parent (frequently referred to as the “noncustodial parent”). This step of delivering documents is known as “service.” A noncustodial parent typically receives a summons that says he or she has been named as the parent of a particular child, provides notice that a legal proceeding has been initiated, and sets a hearing date. The summons is usually delivered by certified mail or by a law enforcement officer. In many states, noncustodial parents can waive being served by accepting the legal documents in the child support office voluntarily, but few do. A person who comes into the child support office to accept service voluntarily is actively engaging in the child support process. In doing so, the person benefits from...

    State child support programs secure financial support for children whose parents live apart. These programs establish paternity, set orders for the amounts parents are required to pay, and collect and distribute payments. An essential step in the process of establishing paternity and setting an order of support is delivering legal documents to the person named as a parent (frequently referred to as the “noncustodial parent”). This step of delivering documents is known as “service.” A noncustodial parent typically receives a summons that says he or she has been named as the parent of a particular child, provides notice that a legal proceeding has been initiated, and sets a hearing date. The summons is usually delivered by certified mail or by a law enforcement officer. In many states, noncustodial parents can waive being served by accepting the legal documents in the child support office voluntarily, but few do. A person who comes into the child support office to accept service voluntarily is actively engaging in the child support process. In doing so, the person benefits from reduced fees, a greater voice in the legal process, and a better understanding of the way an order is established. The child support program benefits from increased efficiency, reduced costs, and the ability to provide more information to parents. With these benefits in mind, the BICS team worked with the Georgia Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) to test a new form of outreach intended to get more people to accept service voluntarily. The intervention encouraged people who had been named as parents to come into the office and meet with staff members to discuss the child support process and their obligations. Using insights from behavioral science, the BICS team redesigned mailed materials and changed the nature of the initial meeting between noncustodial parents and child support staff members in an attempt to simplify the process and encourage parents to act. (Excerpt from overview)

  • Individual Author: Anzelone, Caitlin; Dechausay, Nadine; Alemany, Xavier
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2018

    The Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project conducted 15 randomized controlled trials of behavioral interventions across eight states, in the domains of work support, child support, and child care. BIAS used a systematic approach called “behavioral diagnosis and design” to develop the interventions and their associated materials. This process involved identifying problems that were appropriate for behavioral interventions, diagnosing the underlying behavioral reasons for each problem, designing interventions, and conducting rigorous tests to determine whether the interventions improved outcomes. The Behavioral Interventions Materials Compendium contains all of the written materials that the project designed and tested as part of those interventions. The compendium is arranged by program area domain, site/agency, and type of intervention. Each section begins with a one-page summary of the particular intervention that was implemented, followed by a list of the printed materials for that intervention and copies of the materials themselves. (Author...

    The Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project conducted 15 randomized controlled trials of behavioral interventions across eight states, in the domains of work support, child support, and child care. BIAS used a systematic approach called “behavioral diagnosis and design” to develop the interventions and their associated materials. This process involved identifying problems that were appropriate for behavioral interventions, diagnosing the underlying behavioral reasons for each problem, designing interventions, and conducting rigorous tests to determine whether the interventions improved outcomes. The Behavioral Interventions Materials Compendium contains all of the written materials that the project designed and tested as part of those interventions. The compendium is arranged by program area domain, site/agency, and type of intervention. Each section begins with a one-page summary of the particular intervention that was implemented, followed by a list of the printed materials for that intervention and copies of the materials themselves. (Author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Richburg-Hayes, Lashawn; Anzelone, Caitlin; Dechausay, Nadine; Landers, Patrick
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2017

    This report represents the final synthesis of the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency project. Overall, the project’s findings demonstrated that applying behavioral insights to challenges facing human services programs can improve program efficiency, operations, and outcomes at a relatively low cost.

    The report discusses in detail:

    •overall findings from the project;

    •lessons learned during the knowledge development period as well as across the project’s sites;

    •the broader context in which the findings are situated, with respect to both applied behavioral insights and human services; and

    •implications for future research and practice.

    Each chapter is accompanied by at least one independent commentary by an expert in the field. (Author abstract)

    This report represents the final synthesis of the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency project. Overall, the project’s findings demonstrated that applying behavioral insights to challenges facing human services programs can improve program efficiency, operations, and outcomes at a relatively low cost.

    The report discusses in detail:

    •overall findings from the project;

    •lessons learned during the knowledge development period as well as across the project’s sites;

    •the broader context in which the findings are situated, with respect to both applied behavioral insights and human services; and

    •implications for future research and practice.

    Each chapter is accompanied by at least one independent commentary by an expert in the field. (Author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Baird, Peter; Walter, Johanna; Landers, Patrick; Timm, Jonathan; Luczywek, Beata
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2017

    The state of Kansas created the Child Support Savings Initiative (CSSI) in 2013 to help parents who owe child support pay off debt that is owed to the state while also saving for their children’s future higher education. The program aims to encourage parents to make qualifying deposits into tax advantaged college savings plans — 529 accounts — administered by the state. In return, the parents receive matching reductions in their child support debts. Kansas originally created CSSI only for parents who owed child support debts to the state. When Kansas decided it wanted to expand CSSI to debts owed the parents receiving child support, it needed to find an alternate source of funding to pay off those debts. It was able to do so in 2014 with funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and under that grant MDRC received a contract to provide technical assistance and conduct an evaluation in conjunction with the expansion. (Excerpt from overview)

    The state of Kansas created the Child Support Savings Initiative (CSSI) in 2013 to help parents who owe child support pay off debt that is owed to the state while also saving for their children’s future higher education. The program aims to encourage parents to make qualifying deposits into tax advantaged college savings plans — 529 accounts — administered by the state. In return, the parents receive matching reductions in their child support debts. Kansas originally created CSSI only for parents who owed child support debts to the state. When Kansas decided it wanted to expand CSSI to debts owed the parents receiving child support, it needed to find an alternate source of funding to pay off those debts. It was able to do so in 2014 with funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and under that grant MDRC received a contract to provide technical assistance and conduct an evaluation in conjunction with the expansion. (Excerpt from overview)

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