Instead of the Commissioner’s Voice, you will hear Voices from the Field. Specifically, the voices of child support professionals who work on our grant projects and the voices of several parents participating in those programs. Their quotes are representative of the feedback we receive during our periodic phone updates with each grantee site, and they convey the largely positive changes that staff and parents experience through our program innovation projects.
The Procedural Justice-Informed Alternatives to Contempt (PJAC) demonstration program is our most recent project. It funds six grants to state child support agencies to examine whether incorporating procedural justice principles into the civil contempt process increases reliable child support payments.
“If the parties feel that [our agency] has allowed them to be heard, fair process, informed of the process, addresses questions and/or concerns, and is not biased, the participants are much more compliant and trust begins to form.”
“Providing many options to communicate with a case manager has opened up conversations with both parents and is making payments more accessible. Text messaging is proving to be an instant response from both parents.”
“I have dealt with child support for 10 years and no one has ever explained to me the process before now, so I just gave up trying.”
“It really seems like you care about me, my children, and the noncustodial parent. I really appreciate you trying to help my family.”
The Behavioral Interventions for Child Support Services Demonstration Program (BICS) demonstration program funds eight grants to state child support agencies to develop improvements informed by behavioral science principles. Each state is designing and testing multiple custom BICS interventions aimed at improving child support outcomes and processes.
“Parts of the intervention we will definitely continue in our everyday work, which goes to show that by testing an idea you can continue to move the program forward.”
“Personally, the best experience has been working with our paying parents at an earlier time frame than the norm and providing information on our program, who to contact, encourage their participation, and along the way getting child support payments in a more timely manner.”
“My son is about to graduate high school and hasn’t received child support from his father in over 10 years. [My case manager] has been a part of bringing back hope into our lives and I'm so very grateful she was able to assist me.”
“My case manager helped me a lot in our initial conference, and I never experienced this before.”
The National Child Support Noncustodial Parent Employment Demonstration (CSPED) program funded eight grants to state child support agencies to develop and implement programs that provide employment services to noncustodial parents who are willing but have been unable to pay. CSPED is now in a sixth, no-cost extension year and evaluation reports will be available in 2019.
“It allows me to use some of my creativity to connect with clients from all different walks of life and be able to get them to understand child support from a different perspective. Once they understand it and they see they truly have an advocate that is willing to go to bat for them, they are more than likely to pay their child support willingly and have a better relationship with their children.”
“It allows me to dispense compassion and hope – compassion with obligors who are unemployed and need assistance in finding employment and hope to obligees that when employment is obtained they will receive their child support.”
“My case manager has redefined how I feel about and view child support.”
– South Carolina
“These are some of the things I have accomplished while in the program. I first had a full time job at [a fast food restaurant]. I held that job for a year and was promoted to crew leader after about 6 months. I also found a new job at a steakhouse where in just 4 months I have learned to bartend and am now one of three managers at the store. I also got my license back in October 2017, which I haven't had since 2006. The program helped me a lot on my journey to getting back on my feet.”
Several of the articles in the April 2018 Child Support Report show how OCSE-funded grants are improving the performance of state, local, and tribal child support agencies and the lives of the families they serve. You’ll also learn about a future funding opportunity, Using Digital Marketing to Increase Participation in the Child Support Program, in a feature article on page 7. And, in honor of Minority Health Month, the National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families shared tools they developed to help offices be more culturally responsive. The article is on page 9.
Commissioner Scott Lekan will be back in May. Until then, I want to leave you with the words of a Colorado CSPED caseworker to participants, "... it is important to be the voice that makes a change for your child."
Barbara Lacina is director of OCSE’s Division of Program Innovation, which oversees grant-funded demonstration projects and evidence-based research initiatives to produce the best outcomes for children and families.