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Tag Archives: Fatherhood
Regular child support payments depend upon both the willingness and ability of parents to support their children. In honor of Father’s Day, our June issue focuses on programs and initiatives that help fathers deepen their financial and emotional commitments to their children.
For more than 20 years, OCSE has been involved in efforts to secure consistent support for children through programs to improve parental responsibility and increase child support collections. To improve the effectiveness of the child support program, our focus has been in three major areas: modernizing technology, strengthening parents’ perception of fairness of the process, and using evidence of what works to make program improvements.
Some of the earliest examples funded by OCSE include the Parents Fair Share demonstration grants of the 1990s and the Partners for Fragile Families demonstration grants of the early 2000s. Both project designs aimed to improve child support payment compliance by increasing employment, earnings, peer support, and cooperative parenting, and by improving child support services. Noncustodial parents who participated in the projects said they felt better about their roles as fathers and their ability to financially support their children.
In 2004, OCSE funded demonstration projects to test integration of Access and Visitation and Child Support Enforcement. The project evaluations found that when parenting issues were addressed as part of the child support process, noncustodial parents paid more support, noncustodial parents had more contact with their children, and the parents got along better.
Today, ongoing research projects will add to the evidence base for child support programs.
These studies include
- Child Support Parent Employment Demonstration (CSPED) sponsored by OCSE (CSPED Fact Sheet #1)
- Parents and Children Together (PACT) evaluation of four Office of Family Assistance Responsible Fatherhood grantees conducted by the Administration for Children and Families (“Addressing Low-Income Fathers’ Legal Needs” article in the June Child Support Report and the Parents and Children Together (PACT) Evaluation webpage)
- Department of Labor Linking to Employment Activities Pre-Release (LEAP) initiative designed to increase employment for individuals, including parents, who have been incarcerated
- Paycheck Plus, a demonstration conducted by MDRC with OCSE support to test Earned Income Tax Credit-like benefits for workers who do not live with children, including noncustodial parents (Behavioral Buzz newsletter article, Helping Paycheck Plus participants plan to participate in an informational meeting)
Ongoing research and evaluation efforts are designed to build the evidence required for developing and replicating effective program models.
No other program has such extensive contact with fathers as child support does. We know from research that increased child support payments are linked with higher father involvement. Fathers who are involved with their children are more likely to pay child support, and fathers who pay child support are more likely to stay involved. We also know that parents — fathers and mothers — are more likely to engage with the child support program if they feel that they are treated fairly and evenhandedly, receive timely and clear information, and experience the child support program as genuinely helpful and concerned about their well-being. The most effective child support programs combine modern technology with parental engagement and evidence-based strategies to increase collections and address barriers to nonpayment.
Read more about effective child support practices in our June Child Support Report.
The child support program continues to evolve as families change. Our Father’s Day issue of the Child Support Report highlights innovative strategies that child support programs are using to work with both parents to increase the support that children receive from their noncustodial parents.
Erin Frisch, Michigan child support director, describes how her state improved customer service and office efficiency by streamlining case management so that case workers can really help parents.
Former NBA player and fatherhood advocate Etan Thomas observes that “the programs that couple the inspirational messages with the tools to help fathers succeed often work the best.”
Chad Edinger, who prior to coming to OCSE had extensive experience implementing fatherhood and family-centered initiatives in Colorado, surveys child support-coordinated employment programs for noncustodial parents in 30 states and the District of Columbia and describes our National Child Support Noncustodial Parent Employment Demonstration Project, or CSPED.
Susan Brown, Franklin County, Ohio, child support director, emphasizes the importance of research to help us understand and meet the needs of the communities we serve.
Freda Randolph Glenn, operations manager for the San Francisco child support program, describes the county’s innovative work with community colleges so that custodial parents can finish school and noncustodial parents can share parenting time.
Jeff Stocks, our OCSE specialist in Kansas City, partners with Kate Goudy-Haht from Iowa State University to describe a new high school curriculum developed by the Iowa child support program.
And Beatrice Locks reports on $26 million in collections for children and families from OCSE’s Insurance Match program.
This is today’s child support program. I am proud to work for a program that constantly innovates in order to stay true to its mission.
The child support program is one of the few government programs that systematically reach men, and the only one to do so in their roles as fathers. Because the program serves so many children—a quarter of all children and half of all poor children—and both their parents throughout childhood, it is uniquely positioned to connect men to a range of resources to help them be the fathers they want to be.
Across the country, child support programs are finding innovative new ways to help fathers provide for their children. State and local child support agencies have engaged in outreach, referral, case management and other activities in partnership with fatherhood, workforce, veterans, reentry, and asset-building programs to increase the ability of parents to support their children. They are working to engage fathers in the lives of their children, to increase noncustodial parent employment, to improve family relationships, and to address family violence prevention.
The OCSE “bubble chart” promotes the child support program’s vision for a more holistic family-centered approach to service delivery. Our collaborations with other public agencies and community organizations in the six domains of the bubble chart are enhancing the success of our program’s fundamental mission to reinforce the responsibility of parents to support their children when they live apart and to encourage fathers and mothers to be involved in their children’s lives.
OCSE reconfirms our commitment to fatherhood issues through participation in a range of federal interagency initiatives, including six listed on page 3 in the June Child Support Report.
This month, the Child Support Report also brings you voices of fathers—leaders of three national organizations—who discuss their views on fatherhood. Four other articles look at research and state perspectives about unwed parents in our program. Several highlight the need for more services that target fathers across the country and point out efforts that are showing signs of success. All of the articles—plus another (on page 8) about a North Carolina county partnership with the local library—demonstrate the child support program’s obligation to speak out about our commitment to fatherhood issues.
We have a long way to go, but our collaborative work at every level of government and with community organizations strengthens our important message that the child support program is here to help parents, children, and families.
Happy Father’s Day to all!