This FOA is modified. The link to the HHS Behavioral Insights Conference video is corrected in the Grants.gov Synopsis.
In order to improve both the effectiveness and operations of child support programs, to expand the application of behavioral economics to child support contexts through the development of promising interventions, and to build a culture of regular, rapid-cycle evaluation and critical inquiry in the child support community, the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) will award Behavioral Interventions in Child Support Services grants (BICS).
BICS will be funded by Section 1115 funds awarded under cooperative agreements to state IV-D agencies to explore the potential relevance and application of behavioral economics principles to child support services. This cooperative agreement will allow the selected state agency to use this federal grant award and the Federal Financial Participation (FFP) associated with these grant funds to test behaviorally-informed interventions to improve child support outcomes by focusing on areas such as early engagement, right-sizing orders, reliable payment, family-centered services, and other innovations to improve establishment and enforcement outcomes.
Grantees, in cooperation with an OCSE-funded, third-party technical assistance and evaluation team (TAE team), will identify and implement behaviorally-informed process improvements and evaluate progress towards goals. The TAE team will be funded through a companion funding announcement, HHS-2014-ACF-OCSE-FD-0822 available to view at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/grants/open/foa/view/HHS-2014-ACF-OCSE-FD-0822. Grant projects will first diagnose and design a behaviorally informed intervention and pilot test that intervention at a multi-county (or large single county) level. If the intervention is found to be successful at the pilot stage, it is expected to be implemented statewide, or on the broadest scale possible for the state. Pilot tests will involve random assignment to determine whether desired outcomes are achieved. Projects will focus on shorter-term goals such as enrollment, engagement, and program completion.
The overall goal of the BICS project is to introduce and encourage institutionalizing a way of doing business that takes behavioral factors and regular evaluation into account to improve success. Child support programs will have the opportunity to work with a team of behavioral experts to analyze their business processes, and pilot, evaluate, and replicate program improvements. Application of behavioral insights to healthcare and social services is an area of keen interest at the federal level. On March 14, 2014, HHS hosted a Behavioral Insights Conference to highlight federal efforts to apply behavioral economics, and it is available to view via webcast at http://videocast.nih.gov/summary.asp?Live=13883&bhcp=1.