Behavioral Interventions

November, 2019

The Behavioral Interventions for Child Support Services demonstration used insights from behavioral science to develop interventions that could improve child support services. This report summarizes findings from 22 interventions that tested a range of design principles from behavioral science — for example, simplification, personalization, and reminders.


Testing Approaches to Increase Child Support Payments in Colorado

October, 2019
Paul Veldman, Nadine Dechausay, Abby Durgan

Much child support is collected through income withholding, but it takes time to establish automatic deductions from parents’ paychecks. In the interim, parents must make payments manually, and often do not. This brief describes an intervention in Colorado that increased payment amounts during these first months after order establishment.

Since 2006, Responsible Fatherhood programs across the country have received federal funding administered by the Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. These programs aim to promote positive father-child interactions, improve parents’ relationship with each...


An Independent Evaluation of the National Study of Learning Mindsets

November, 2019
Pei Zhu, Ivonne Garcia, Kate Boxer, Sidhant Wadhera, Erick Alonzo

One type of intervention to help students navigate the tricky transition to ninth grade communicates to them that their brains can grow “stronger.” This evaluation of one such intervention finds that it changed students’ beliefs and attitudes and produced impacts on their average academic performance.


The Behavioral Interventions for Child Support Services (BICS) Project

October, 2019
Yana Kusayeva, Peter Baird, Jonathan Timm

This intervention tested with the Vermont Office of Child Support changed outreach materials and the structure of conferences with parents in order to increase parent participation in the child support process and increase the percentage of cases where both parents reached agreement outside of court. It did improve both outcomes.


Testing Early Parent Engagement in Washington’s Child Support Program

July, 2019
Asaph Glosser, Angela Gaffney

The state of Washington tested an intervention meant to foster a better relationship with parents early in the child support process. The intervention included specialized caseworkers, phone calls, and redesigned documents. There was limited evidence that the intervention increased parent engagement, and it did not improve payment outcomes.


Increasing Child Support Order Modification Review Completion in Ohio

May, 2019
Peter Baird, Rhiannon Miller

In Ohio, the process to modify a child support order has two stages that typically take more than 100 days to complete. In two counties, the Behavioral Interventions for Child Support Services team worked with local agencies to test four interventions designed to simplify the process.


Engaging California Parents During Child Support Order Establishment

June, 2019
Angela Gaffney, Michael Fishman, Jared Smith

Child support agencies in Sacramento and San Joaquin Counties and the Behavioral Interventions for Child Support Services team tested whether a behavioral intervention could increase the percentage of parents who responded to early paperwork and got involved in the child support process.


Using Behavioral Science to Identify Barriers to Credit Intensity and Satisfactory Academic Progress

April, 2019

Taking enough credits and passing enough classes are key requirements for college success. But behavioral and institutional barriers often get in the way. A new report from MDRC shows how behavioral science can expose these barriers and help colleges move their students past the finish line to graduation.