Simplify, Notify, Modify: Using Behavioral Insights to Increase Incarcerated Parents’ Requests for Child Support Modification

Publication Date: November 2, 2016


This report describes a collaboration between the Washington State Division of Child Support and the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) research team that aimed to increase the number of incarcerated noncustodial parents in Washington who applied for modifications to reduce the amount of their child support orders.

The interventions resulted in a:

  • 32 percentage point increase in the number of parents requesting a modification; and a
  • 16 percentage point increase in the number of incarcerated parents receiving a modification to their child support orders within three months.

The BIAS team diagnosed bottlenecks in the process for applying for modifications, hypothesized behavioral reasons for the bottlenecks, and designed a sequence of behaviorally informed materials sent to incarcerated parents. These materials provided parents with a series of supports to make them aware that they may be eligible for an order modification and to move them to action.

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