Child Support

The child support system serves nearly 16 million children who live apart from at least one of their parents.  MDRC designs and studies efforts to improve the system’s performance, and reforms designed to change the way the system responds to noncustodial parents (usually fathers) who cannot afford to pay what they owe.  

The Latest
Brief

Procedural justice centers on the idea that individuals’ perception of the fairness of a process determines how they respond to it. In this random assignment demonstration, child support programs are applying this principle to reframe their work with families as a respectful, problem-solving endeavor.

Brief

This behavioral science-based intervention was designed to increase the percentage of employed parents who made child support payments during the first months after a new order was established, before employer income withholding went into effect. It did increase the percentage who made payments in the first month.

Key Documents
Issue Focus

Building a Body of Evidence

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.

Brief

Past and ongoing research offers direction for how to strengthen the most basic foundation for early childhood development: family relationships. Part of our “Looking Forward” series, this policy memo makes the case for building on this accumulating evidence to create new and innovative approaches to support children’s earliest years and the unique role of fathers.

Report

Final Lessons from Parents’ Fair Share

Fathers provide important financial and emotional support to their children. Yet low-income noncustodial fathers, with low wages and high rates of joblessness, often do not fulfill their parenting roles. The child support system has not traditionally helped these men to do so, since its focus has been on securing financial support from fathers who can afford to pay.