Jurisdictions across the United States are taking steps to reduce the number of people who are detained in jail unnecessarily while awaiting trial. In particular, they are seeking to reduce the use of cash bail as a mechanism to ensure court...
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.
Ongoing Implementation Experiences
Households receiving federal rental subsidies struggle to become self-sufficient. Jobs Plus provides grants to public housing agencies to offer tenants employment-related services, rent-based work incentives, and community support for work. This report examines a second round of Jobs Plus implementation, including evolving program operations, challenges, resident participation, and technical assistance.
Testing Early Parent Engagement in Washington’s Child Support Program
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.
Living in high-poverty, highly segregated neighborhoods can adversely impact the safety, health, mental health, educational performance, and longer-term economic mobility of low-income families. At the same time, compelling new research by Raj Chetty, Nathaniel Hendren, and Lawrence Katz suggests that when young children move to “high opportunity” areas, their...
For The Higher Education Randomized Controlled Trial project (THE-RCT), MDRC is creating the largest individual-participant database from higher education randomized controlled trials to date. THE-RCT will make standardized,...
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Job Corps program provides education and training to disadvantaged young people. It offers high school education services combined with career and technical training in a residential setting. The Cascades College and Career Academy (CCCA) pilot is an ambitious and evidence-based attempt...
Lessons from the BIAS Project
In child support programs, parents must often make complicated decisions with little information in a highly emotional context. The BIAS project, which applied behavioral insights to human services programs, worked with three states to design eight tests focusing on child support order modifications and collection of payments.
Highlights from the Jobs Plus Pilot Program Evaluation
Jobs Plus promotes employment among public housing residents through employment services, rent rule changes that provide incentives to work, and community support for work. Within the first 18 months, all nine public housing agencies in this evaluation had begun structuring their programs, building partnerships, and implementing the model’s core components.
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.