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
Report

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.

Brief

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.

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.