University of Wisconsin–Madison
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Helping Noncustodial Parents Support Their Children: Early Implementation Findings from the Child Support Noncustodial Parent Employment Demonstration (CSPED) Evaluation (Interim Report )

An interim implementation report on the National Child Support Noncustodial Parent Employment Demonstration (CSPED) was released on September 1, 2015, and reflects demonstration activities that began in fall 2012, when the eight child support agencies began a one-year planning period, as well as activities during the initial year of program enrollment.

During the planning period, each of the eight grantees formed required partnerships, developed service-delivery plans, and refined eligibility criteria. Ultimately, grantees designated a total of 18 implementation sites, ranging from one to five counties per grantee.

Beginning in the last quarter of 2013, grantees began enrolling participants in the demonstration. Half of the enrollees were randomly assigned to receive CSPED services, including enhanced child support services, employment assistance, parenting education delivered in a peer-supported format and case management. Half were assigned to a control group and did not receive extra services. Each grantee aimed to recruit 1,500 eligible noncustodial parents.

Throughout the two-year time period reflected in the report, grantees and their partners experienced a steep learning curve. In particular, the CSPED grantees grappled with several challenges including

  • reorienting child support staff and systems toward helping low-income noncustodial parents obtain employment;
  • recruiting noncustodial parents to enroll in CSPED;
  • keeping participants engaged in services;
  • addressing participants’ multiple barriers to employment such as criminal records, lack of work history, and low levels of education;
  • establishing partnerships and meshing different organizational cultures; and
  • helping participants with parenting time issues.

Although the implementation report covers an early period of CSPED operations and reflects grantees initial efforts to implement the demonstration and overcome challenges, early lessons can be drawn from observations shared by staff and a synthesis of implementation data collected to date.

These early lessons include the importance of using child support workers who support CSPED’s goals to identify and recruit participants; developing services that take into account the substantial barriers to employment faced by the target population; designing services to promote sustained participant engagement; and investing in strong partnerships and communication systems.

The demonstration continued operating through September 2017, or three years beyond the time period reflected in the report. A final implementation report examines the full implementation period and provides a more comprehensive assessment of the types and dosage of services participants received. The report focuses on the infrastructure and supports that facilitated implementation, program features that appeared to promote higher levels of participant engagement, promising strategies for helping participants obtain employment and make regular child support payments, and strategies for overcoming common implementation hurdles. A final report examines CSPED’s impacts on participants’ outcomes and includes a benefit-cost analysis.

Categories

Arrears & Related Policy, Child Development & Well-Being, Child Support, Children, CSPED, Employment, Orders & Payments