Behavioral Interventions

Building a School Choice Architecture

June, 2017

As school choice systems expand, district enrollment offices are striving to make the choice process accessible and clear for families. This practitioner brief offers lessons for supporting families through the sequence of decisions involved as they engage in the process, search for information, and compare and select schools.

Final Report of the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) Project

May, 2017

The BIAS project tested behavioral interventions in child support, child care, and work support programs with nearly 100,000 low-income clients in eight human services agencies. Each site saw at least one significant, low-cost impact. The findings suggest that small environmental changes can enhance client-agency interactions and expanded behavioral strategies might help strengthen programs and policies.

December, 2016

As the first major effort to use a behavioral economics lens to examine human services programs that serve poor and vulnerable families in the United States, the BIAS project demonstrated the value of applying behavioral insights to improve the efficacy of human services programs.

A Randomized Controlled Trial

November, 2016

A randomized controlled trial conducted by REL West and MDRC finds that counseling and text-messaging “nudges” boosted the proportion of community college students who completed academic plans by 20 percentage points.

Using Behavioral Insights to Increase Incarcerated Parents’ Requests for Child Support Modifications

October, 2016

A behavioral intervention provided incarcerated noncustodial parents in Washington with materials about their eligibility for a child support order modification and how to request one. It increased the number of parents requesting a modification by 32 percentage points and the number of parents receiving a modification by 16 percentage points.

Using Behavioral Science to Improve Indiana’s Child Care Subsidy Program

September, 2016

Three behavioral interventions targeting low-income parents receiving child care subsidies were tested in Indiana. One combining mailed materials and a phone call increased the percentage of parents who chose a highly rated child care provider, and two others increased the percentage of parents who attended their first scheduled subsidy redetermination appointment.

July, 2016

Too often, programs and policies do not consider the way people actually think and behave. Behavioral science demonstrates that even small hassles create barriers that prevent those in need of services from receiving them. This infographic provides a brief overview of how the Center for Applied Behavioral Science is improving social services by making use of behavioral insights.

Building a Body of Evidence

April, 2016

Over the past several years, MDRC has worked with the federal Administration for Children and Families to test low-cost behavioral interventions to improve child support services in a number of states. This issue focus describes what’s been learned so far — and what’s planned for the future.

Using Behavioral Economics to Engage TANF Recipients

March, 2016

A low-cost, low-effort behavioral intervention in Los Angeles County modestly increased the percentage of TANF recipients who reengaged in the county’s welfare-to-work program within 30 days of their scheduled appointment. The test is part of the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency project, sponsored by the federal Administration for Children and Families.

Applying Behavioral Insights to Increase Collections

February, 2016

Findings from tests in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, demonstrate that low-cost, low-effort behavioral interventions can improve child support payment outcomes. These tests are part of the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency project, sponsored by the federal Administration for Children and Families.

Using Behavioral Economics to Increase On-Time Child Care Subsidy Renewals

November, 2015

This study assessed three different behavioral strategies for providers and clients aimed at increasing the timely renewal of child care subsidies, in order to ensure consistent client services. The findings suggest that strategies designed for staff who work directly with clients may be a fruitful area for future work.

Using Behavioral Insights to Encourage People to Participate

August, 2015

Several low-cost behavioral messaging interventions boosted participant attendance at an optional informational meeting for Paycheck Plus, an earnings supplement program in New York City. This test is part of the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency project, sponsored by the federal Administration for Children and Families.

Using Behavioral Economics to Increase Child Support Payments

July, 2015

A low-cost behavioral intervention produced a modest increase in the number of parents in Franklin County, Ohio, who made at least one child support payment over four months. This test is part of the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency project, sponsored by the federal Administration for Children and Families.

Using Behavioral Economics to Help Incarcerated Parents Apply for Child Support Order Modifications

September, 2014

A low-cost behavioral intervention increased by 11 percentage points the proportion of incarcerated noncustodial parents in Texas who applied for modifications to reduce the amount of their child support orders. This test is part of the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency project, sponsored by the federal Administration for Children and Families.

A Technical Supplement to “Behavioral Economics and Social Policy”

April, 2014

This technical supplement to an introductory report for the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project presents a description of behavioral interventions that have been commonly researched in studies.

Designing Innovative Solutions for Programs Supported by the Administration for Children and Families

April, 2014

This report describes three sites in the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency project, which applies tools from behavioral economics to improve the well-being of low-income individuals and families — the Texas Office of the Attorney General’s Child Support Division, the Illinois Department of Human Services, and the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Project Overview

The college enrollment process is complex and includes many steps. Recent research has shown that short, action-oriented text messages can help people focus on critical tasks at the right times.

Project Overview

Young people with juvenile justice involvement face many challenges, which may include a lack of education and employment skills, antisocial attitudes and values, unstable housing, and much more. These challenges make it difficult for them to pursue educational pursuits or enter the workforce and become productive citizens.

Project Overview

The Encouraging Additional Summer Enrollment (EASE) Project is a new initiative to improve community college persistence and completion in Ohio.

Project Overview

In many human services programs, enrollees must make a series of decisions and take a number of active steps in order to access a benefit.

Project Overview

Many noncustodial parents do not pay their full child support obligations and therefore accumulate child support debt. At the same time, many children receiving child support assistance have little or no savings to help pay for their higher education.

Project Overview

Nudges to Increase Customer Engagement (NICE) in Child Support Programs is an effort to use behavioral insights to increase noncustodial parents’ engagement in an administrative process for establishing their child support orders and to improve ongoing communication between the child support program and its clients

Project Overview

Behavioral science sheds light on human decision-making and behavior to better understand why people make the choices that they do.

Project Overview

Many social programs are designed in such a way that individuals must make active decisions and go through a series of steps in order to benefit from them. They must decide which programs to apply to or participate in, complete forms, attend meetings, show proof of eligibility, and arrange travel and child care.