Policy Knowledge and Implementation Issues

IRP Reports

Kisun Nam, Maria Cancian, and Daniel R. Meyer, 2006

The results of the first phase of the CSDE evaluation suggested that most participants had very little understanding of how any child support paid to them would be treated. In this report we explore whether knowledge of the child support pass-through and disregard policy has changed since the initial implementation of the policy. We use the additional questions in the follow-up Survey of Wisconsin Works Families (SWWF) to explore whether knowledge about child support pass-through and disregard policy has increased among the initial W-2 families, and, if so, for which types of families. Our results suggest that many parents do not fully understand policy. We find evidence that child support agency staff provided useful information, and that those mothers who reported having heard media information were also better informed. This suggests that there are ways to directly improve policy knowledge. On the other hand, we also find that people learn from experience. This experiential learning takes time, and when policy changes, it again takes time for participants to adjust their understanding.

Thomas Kaplan and Victoria Mayer, 2006

IRP researchers are interested in knowledge of the pass-through among families who entered W-2 later in the program, after the Child Support Pass-Through and Disregard experiment (CSDE) had ended and all W-2 participants received all current child support paid on their behalf. Because these participants were not part of the CSDE survey, this report relies on an alternative approach to assessing their knowledge, through two rounds of interviews with W-2 and child support agency staff who had contact with them. The interviews were conducted in 2002 and 2005.

The interviews suggest that the policy of passing-through all current child support matches the philosophy of personal responsibility emphasized by the state's TANF program. Respondents in Milwaukee County, which has the largest concentration of families affected by the pass-through, believed that the adoption of the pass-through has increased custodial parents' cooperation in the establishment of child support. Staff in several counties also noted that the pass-through policy facilitates the efforts of W-2 case managers to build constructive relationships with program applicants. If this is correct, the benefits of the pass-through policy extend beyond the immediate financial gain experienced by families who receive it, helping to improve the cooperation of program participants with both W-2 and child support agency staff.

David Pate, 2006

This report evaluates the extent of knowledge of custodial and noncustodial parents by race, gender, and geographic location about Wisconsin's pass-through and disregard of child support payments. Sixteen focus groups were conducted in seven counties, four urban and three rural, of custodial parents and noncustodial parents who received public benefits in Wisconsin. The intent of the research was to explore similarities and differences in perspectives and experiences across sites, and between mothers and fathers.

David Pate, 2006

This report builds on earlier work, and relied on face-to-face interviews with randomly selected fathers of children receiving W-2 benefits, followed, where possible, by an interview with the mother of one of the father's children. This work again explores the level of knowledge about child support pass-through/disregard policy among parents receiving public assistance in Dane County. It is unique in that it explores the experiences, knowledge, and attitudes of couples–rather than focusing on results by gender–associated with W-2 and also allows for comparisons across and within races.

Volume I: Chapter 2 Implementation of the W-2 Child Support Reform
Volume II: Chapter 1 The Implementation of W-2
Volume III: Technical Report 2 Implementation of the Demonstration

IRP Discussion Papers

Maria Cancian, Daniel R. Meyer, and Kisun Nam, 2005

There is surprisingly limited information on how much individuals know about the policy rules that could affect them, either in general or in evaluations of new programs. In this article we examine the level of knowledge that participants in a Wisconsin child support and welfare demonstration had about child support policy rules. We find very low levels of knowledge. Our results suggest that people tend to learn policy rules by experience; we find less consistent support for knowledge being primarily imparted through interactions with caseworkers. Implications of the lack of participants' knowledge for policy evaluations are discussed.

Robert Walker and Michael Wiseman, 2001

The United States will begin another round of debate on welfare reform during the 107th Congress, which convened in January 2001. The new congress and administration must decide on reauthorization of funding for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the program established in 1996 as a replacement for Aid to Families with Dependent Children. Among other things, the reauthorization debate will focus on issues of program funding, rationalization, performance, best practice, and direction. This paper argues that all phases of this debate would benefit from more widespread understanding and appreciation of the British Labour government's welfare reform program, including both the New Deal welfare-to-work programs and related changes in benefits and coverage. This paper reviews the ideology, strategy, and implementation of British innovations with regard to links to U.S.