Panel: New Approaches to the Challenges of Paternity Establishment and Child Support Collection and Their Impacts
(Family and Child Policy)

Saturday, November 8, 2014: 1:45 PM-3:15 PM
Nambe (Convention Center)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  Cynthia Fletcher, Iowa State University
Panel Chairs:  Lawrence Berger, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Discussants:  Elaine Sorensen, Office of Child Support Enforcement

Why Fathers Fail to Establish Paternity: Conditioning the in-Hospital Paternity Establishment Decision on Fathers' Presence at the Birth
Cynthia Osborne, University of Texas at Austin and Daniel Dillon, University of Texas, Austin

Increasing Paternity Establishment in Iowa Using Multiple Methods
Cynthia Fletcher1, Janet Melby1, Carla Prins2, Dong Zhang1, Cheng Peng1 and Joshua Obrecht1, (1)Iowa State University, (2)Iowa Child Support Recovery Unit

Increasing Child Support Collections from the “Hard to Collect”: Experimental Evidence from Washington State
Robert Plotnick1, Asaph Glosser2, M. Kathleen Moore1, Shannon Harper1 and Emmi Obara2, (1)University of Washington, (2)MEF Associates

The Effects of Child Support on the Labor Supply of Custodial Mothers Participating in TANF
Laura Cuesta, University of Wisconsin, Madison and Maria Cancian, University of Wisconsin - Madison

Children growing up in single-parent families, particularly children born to unmarried parents, are at high risk for experiencing poverty and the long-term negative outcomes associated with family economic hardship. State child support agencies play important roles in paternity establishment and child support collection; they have incentives to find innovative ways to use their resources efficiently and to understand the impacts of their interventions. The proposed panel will present four papers that address a range of challenges facing child support agencies over the lifecycle of IV-D cases. Investigators from Texas, Iowa, Washington and Wisconsin will each present a paper that describes a new approach to paternity establishment or child support collection and their impacts. Using data collected through the Paternity Establishment Study, a longitudinal birth cohort study of 800 Texas mothers who gave birth outside of marriage in January 2013, the Texas paper examines parents’ in-hospital paternity establishment decision conditioning on fathers’ presence at the birth. Results suggest that factors predicting non-establishment differ between fathers who are present and absent from the hospital; that father’s absence from prenatal visits predict absence from the birth; and that prenatal checkups may be the optimal time to provide unaccompanied mothers with paternity establishment information. The Iowa paper focuses on results of a multi-method project to increase paternity establishment statewide. A university-agency partnership used GIS technology to map trends before and after interventions; developed a target-setting predictive model based on case characteristics to identify a more viable paternity establishment pool and guide more efficient use of agency resources; and implemented innovative training and outreach to hospital staff and community partners working with unmarried parents. Quantitative results of pre/post-intervention establishment rates and staff survey results are presented and visualized using GIS maps. A team of academic and applied researchers have joined with child support agency officials in Washington State to test through experimental design two interventions aimed at increasing collections and maximizing agency resources. The paper describes quantitative results after 20 months of creation of a special unit of caseworkers pursuing arrears-only cases; and results (after 16 months of operation) of a second effort to send regular billing statements to noncustodial parents not subject to wage withholding. The Wisconsin paper explores the effects of child support on custodial mothers’ labor supply. A random assignment of mothers transitioning from AFDC to TANF and new entrants to TANF yielded an experimental group receiving full child support payments and a control group receiving a partial pass through payment. Results will show no negative effect of support on work, suggesting policies efforts to increase the labor supply of both parents are compatible. The panel chair will provide introductory context for examining this critical policy issue based on his research on the impact of public policies on the well-being of families and children. A senior scientist from the Office of Child Support Enforcement at the Department of Health and Human Services will serve as discussant--offering insights on the challenges for future child support research and policy.
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