Semistructured interviews involve an interviewer asking some prespecified, open-ended questions, with follow-up questions based on what the interviewee has to say. This Reflections on Methodology post describes a semistructured interview protocol recently used to explore how children who experience poverty perceive their situations, their economic status, and public benefit programs.
How Community Colleges Are Advancing Equity in Career and Technical Education
Community college career and technical education (CTE) can fill shortages in the labor market while providing a pathway to economic mobility. But can it do so equitably? In 2019, MDRC’s Center for Effective CTE conducted a scan of notable programs across the country to find out more.
The Breaking Barriers program, based in San Diego, provided employment services to lower-income individuals with disabilities. MDRC carried out a random assignment evaluation of the program. As part of the Building Evidence on Employment Strategies for Low-income Families project, MDRC is collecting additional administrative records to extend the original evaluation.
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 a Pilot Program in New York City
Bridging Access to Benefits and Care — a collaboration among three nonprofit organizations — was designed to improve connections to public benefits and health care services for people dependent on opioids and intravenous drugs in the Bronx. This brief presents findings from an MDRC study of the pilot program’s implementation.
Evidence Underlying Programs and Policies That Work
This brief, a collaboration with Results for America, identifies the major categories of career and technical education within the nation’s secondary and postsecondary education systems and describes the existing research on whether these programs are achieving desired outcomes for students.
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.
Data can help career and technical education programs refine their models, pinpoint successes, and communicate lessons with funders and stakeholders. Drawing in part on conversations with leaders in the field, this brief outlines four steps programs can take to strengthen their data-collection and measurement activities and develop robust data strategies.
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.
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.