Streamline or Specialize: Increasing Child Support Order Modification Reviews in Ohio

Publication Date: August 14, 2019

This 17-page brief (PDF) summarizes four interventions tested in Ohio under OCSE’s Behavioral Interventions for Child Support Services (BICS) demonstration program to increase completion of modification reviews in Cuyahoga and Franklin Counties.

There are several steps in the child support order modification process in Ohio, and many requests drop out without a completed review. In Cuyahoga County (which includes Cleveland) and Franklin County (which includes Columbus), the BICS team worked with local agency staff to design interventions that simplified the process and could be tested. Each county ran two separate but related tests.

In Cuyahoga County:

  • Test 1 eliminated an early step for many parents, making their orders eligible for a modification review by default.
  • Test 2 provided parents with greatly simplified modification paperwork, called an affidavit, along with reminders to complete the paperwork.

Cuyahoga County’s Test 1 resulted in a large increase in the percentage of modification requests that completed modification reviews. Test 2 had minimal effects on the percentage of applicants that returned paperwork or completed modification reviews.

In Franklin County:

  • Test 1 sent parents a simplified modification application package consisting of a redesigned double-sided form and a one-page fact sheet that included language to encourage parents to complete the form.
  • Test 2 provided a simplified modification affidavit and also assigned cases to a staff unit dedicated to modifications. Those specially trained staff members provided individually tailored outreach and support to parents in a manner informed by behavioral science.

Franklin County’s Test 1 had few effects on the percentage of modification requests that had scheduled reviews, returned paperwork, or completed modification reviews. Test 2 resulted in substantial increases in paperwork returned and reviews finished.

Overall, the Ohio BICS tests demonstrated that substantially streamlining the administrative process led to a large improvement in the targeted outcomes. So did combining a shorter form with dedicated, direct, specialized support for parents. In contrast, interventions that only simplified paperwork and sent reminders did not appear to achieve meaningful effects.

This brief is not an OCSE publication. MDRC produced this brief under contract to the State of Washington’s Division of Child Support in the Department of Social and Health, with funds from the BICS evaluation grant awarded by OCSE to the state. This brief is in the public domain. Permission to reproduce is not necessary.

The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of OCSE, the Administration for Children and Families, or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


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