University of Wisconsin–Madison

Child Support Noncustodial Parent Employment Demonstration Evaluation (CSPED)


Child support is a critical financial resource for children living apart from one of their parents. Recent demographic and policy changes have made an effective child support system increasingly important. A successful system must both enable and enforce noncustodial parents’ contributions and requires effective policies to encourage noncustodial employment. Despite policy innovations designed to improve enforcement, the amount of unpaid support is at record levels.

The National Child Support Noncustodial Parent Employment Demonstration (CSPED), launched in October 2012, is designed to identify effective policy alternatives to address these needs. A rigorous evaluation of CSPED conducted by IRP researchers and colleagues at Mathematica Policy Research, in collaboration with the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families has the potential to inform critical national debates about how best to serve noncustodial parents and their children.

The demonstration is an initiative of the Office of Child Support Enforcement in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families, which awarded grants totaling $6.2 million to child support agencies in eight states to link parents with employment services and to evaluate the programs. The programs provide

  • Integrated case management;
  • Employment-oriented services that include job placement and retention;
  • Fatherhood/parenting activities using peer support; and
  • Enhanced child support services including the review and appropriate adjustment of child support orders.

The eight demonstration site states are

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Iowa
  • Ohio
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Wisconsin

The five-year evaluation of the CSPED projects utilizes a random assignment design in which eligible noncustodial parents are randomly assigned into treatment and control groups, in order to gauge programs’ impact on participants. An implementation study and a benefit-cost study are also included.