Report on Child Access and Visitation Programs: Participant Outcomes
DEAR COLLEAGUE LETTER
DATE: May 24, 2007
TO: STATE IV-D DIRECTORS AND STATE ACCESS AND VISITATION PROGRAM COORDINATORS
RE: New publication which assesses selected State Access and Visitation programs client outcomes especially with respect to subsequent payment of child support
I am pleased to provide you with a copy of a new report entitled: “Child Access and Visitation Programs: Participant Outcomes.”
Since 1997, the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) has been responsible for administering “Grants to States for Access and Visitation.” To date, OCSE has awarded $100 million dollars to states ($10 million per year) to “…establish and administer programs to support and facilitate noncustodial parents’ access to and visitation of their children,” as mandated by Congress. In order to achieve this end, States are allowed to fund a range of services including: mediation, development of parenting plans, education, counseling, visitation enforcement (including supervised visitation and neutral drop off), and the development of alternative custody and visitation guidelines. Between FFY 1997-2005, over 400,000 parents were recipients of AV services.
This study assesses participant outcomes resulting from the Access and Visitation Program in 9 states for mediation, parent education and supervised visitation services. Mediation was studied in Missouri, Rhode Island and Utah. Parent education was assessed in Arizona, Colorado and New Jersey. Supervised visitation was looked at in California, Hawaii and Pennsylvania. The primary findings for the 970 cases studied are as follows:
- Child support payments increased from 53 percent to 93 percent by service in the 12 months following service provision.
- Child support compliance rose by 20 percent to 79 percent for unwed cases; but did not increase for divorce cases.
- The level of child contact by the noncustodial parent rose from 32 percent to 45 percent by service in the 12 months after service provision.
- The behavior of the youngest child as reported by the custodial parent improved by 26 percent to 41 percent by service in the 12 months after service provision.
- Twenty-five percent of both parents reported an improved relationship in the 12 months after service provision. The rate was the same for all service types.
- Seventy percent of parents who mediated a visitation/custody agreement reached agreement.
- Nearly all of the parents who received parent education were satisfied by the education.
- Ninety percent of parents who participated in supervised visitation characterized this service as a safe place to conduct visits.
Applying the findings in this study should help states design, fund and measure better programs. For additional copies of this report, please contact OCSE’s National Reference Center at 202-401-9383 or OCSENationalReferenceCenter@acf.hhs.gov
Office of Child Support Enforcement
cc: OCSE Regional Program Managers