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Children thrive when they receive the needed support and love from their parents—regardless of custody status. This includes not only emotional support, but financial support as well. Child support enforcement services are partnerships between Federal, State, local and Tribal entities which aim to provide family-centered services in the location of parents, establishment of paternity, establishment of support orders and collection of support payments. The Child Support section of the SSRC highlights current research and programs in such key issue areas as arrears, incarceration, multiple partner fertility, non-resident parent involvement, visitation, payment incentives and barriers, and work incentives and barriers.
View recommendations from the SSRC Librarian on Child Support and relevant Federal laws and regulations below.
Research on the relationship between child support and pathways to self-sufficiency for low-income individuals and families frequently discusses child support arrears and modification and multiple partner fertility. Click the phrase below to view selected research and resources relevant to child support arrears and modification and multiple partner fertility.
The Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project, sponsored by the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) of the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and led by MDRC, is the first major opportunity to use a behavioral economics lens to examine programs that serve poor and vulnerable families in the United States. This report presents findings from four tests of behavioral interventions intended to increase the percentage of parents who made child support payments and the dollar amount of collections per parent in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. (abbreviated author introduction)
This report presents findings from two behavioral interventions designed to increase the collection of child support payments in Franklin County, Ohio. As part of the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project, the Franklin County Child Support Enforcement Agency implemented two interventions informed by behavioral economics principles to increase child support payments from noncustodial parents who do not have income withholding and need to take action each month to make a payment.
The report shows that reminders can be an important tool for influencing people's actions. The first intervention had a small, but statistically significant impact on the number of parents who made at least one child support payment. The second test did not have an impact on payments, suggesting that, in this context, the form of reminder does not seem to matter (abbreviated author abstract).
The percentage of children in the United States living apart from their biological father has increased, while public assistance for single mothers has diminished. This has resulted in a need to better understand and promote nonresident fathers' economic support of their children. In the present study the author used data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to examine how coparenting—the degree to which parents are mutually supportive and cooperative in raising their child—is related to nonresident fathers' monetary contributions. Results from pooled regression and fixed effects models indicate that coparenting is positively associated with fathers' likelihood of paying formal and informal child support and the amount of these payments. Findings from cross-lagged structural equation models suggest that the association between coparenting and fathers' payments is reciprocal but that coparenting has a stronger effect on fathers' payments than fathers' payments do on coparenting. (author abstract)
Child support is a critical source of income, especially for the growing proportion of children born to unmarried mothers. Current social policy supports custodial parent employment (e.g., the Earned Income Tax Credit [EITC] and other work supports have largely taken the place of an entitlement to cash assistance for single mothers of young children). Given many single mothers' limited earnings potential, child support from noncustodial fathers is also important. This raises questions about the effects of child support on custodial mothers' labor supply, and whether policies that increase child support receipt will thereby discourage mothers' employment. This paper addresses these questions, taking advantage of data from a statewide randomized experiment conducted in Wisconsin. Unlike previous nonexperimental research, we do not find any negative effect of child support on the likelihood to work for pay or the number of hours worked in a given week. Recent U.S. social welfare policies have focused on increasing both custodial mothers' child support collections and their labor supply. The results suggest that these may be compatible policies; the absence of a negative labor supply effect strengthens the potential antipoverty effectiveness of child support. (Author abstract)
This presentation from the 2015 NAWRS workshop provides statistical trends related to employment, family formation, and child welfare in the US before making a number of policy reform recommendations that would support responsible fatherhood.
Federal laws and regulations establish a framework which guides the design and administration of child support programs for low-income individuals. Click the first link below to view legislative resources specific to child support programs. Click the second link to browse additional self-sufficiency legislation and policy in the SSRC library.