In this commentary originally published in Route Fifty, experts from MDRC’s Center for Applied Behavioral Science and BIT North America describe how government agencies can use behavioral science to adapt policies, programs, and services during the continuing pandemic crisis.
Characteristics of Parents Enrolled in the Procedural Justice-Informed Alternatives to Contempt Demonstration
The Procedural Justice-Informed Alternatives to Contempt (PJAC) project integrates procedural justice principles (the idea of fairness in processes) into enforcement at six child support agencies. This brief describes the parents in the PJAC study sample and what led them to the point of being in contempt of court for nonpayment.
The Procedural Justice-Informed Alternatives to Contempt (PJAC) project integrates procedural justice principles (the idea of fairness in processes) into enforcement at six child support agencies. This brief, intended for child support practitioners and administrators, describes the outreach and engagement strategies employed in PJAC with both noncustodial and custodial parents.
Findings from the B3 Study
This brief presents an early analysis of a program incorporating interactive cognitive-behavioral techniques with job-readiness services for fathers recently involved in the justice system. Implementation succeeded, but about 30 percent of fathers did not engage in the program or in existing fatherhood services, suggesting similar participation challenges in both.
Findings from the B3 Study
This brief describes an early analysis of Just Beginning (JB), a five-session, one-on-one program that uses videos and father-child play activities to build parenting skills. While JB was implemented successfully, only 55 percent of fathers completed at least one JB session, though those fathers typically completed most of the curriculum.
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
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.
The Behavioral Interventions for Child Support Services (BICS) Project
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.
Data from management information systems, direct observations, and the reactions of staff members can help programs understand themselves, identify areas for improvement, and set goals. This infographic presents examples of how programs in the Building Bridges and Bonds study used data from different sources to gain insights.
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.