The final impact report on the National Child Support Noncustodial Parent Employment Demonstration (CSPED) was released on March 14, 2019. The primary goal of the intervention was to improve the reliable payment of child support in order to improve child well-being and avoid public costs. Key outcomes related to noncustodial parents’ (1) child support orders, payments and compliance, as well as attitudes toward the child support program; (2) work and earnings; (3) sense of responsibility for their children.
Over 10,000 noncustodial parents with difficulty meeting their child support obligations were enrolled between October 2013 and 2016; half were randomly assigned to receive extra services as part of CSPED while the other half received regular services. Results show that the program led to modest declines in child support orders (consistent with “right-sizing” these orders), and even smaller reductions in payments. While there was no significant change in child support compliance, CSPED resulted in major improvements in noncustodial parents’ attitudes towards the program. There was some evidence of increases in earnings, but not in employment. Noncustodial parents’ sense of responsibility to their children also increased.
The evaluation suggests that the potential exists for child support agencies to lead broader interventions, incorporating components beyond child support services alone, aimed at helping unemployed and underemployed noncustodial parents to increase the reliability of their financial support for their children. Results suggest these efforts can improve noncustodial parents’ attitudes towards the child support program and sense of responsibility for their children and reduce punitive enforcement with bigger impacts on right-sizing orders than on reducing payments.
(Author abstract modified)
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