Employment Programs for Parents Unable to Pay Child Support: What We’ve Learned and Where Do We Go Next?
(Employment and Training Programs)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
An estimated 3 million parents are unable to pay their child support due to insufficient earnings, leaving their children without their financial support. Prior research has found that these parents face significant barriers to paying child support – most have at most a high school education, they earn less than the poverty level for a single person, and they have a criminal record. Congress recognized this problem thirty years ago, first in the Family Support Act of 1988 and then in the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, but has not taken action to address the issue more recently. Yet, the labor market for these parents has worsened. Over the years, many state and national demonstrations have tested various approaches to serving this population, but rigorous, random assignment evaluations have been rare. The one national demonstration that used a random assignment research design – Parents’ Fair Share – found that providing employment and other services to these parents increased the likelihood of working and paying support, but not the amounts. Several more recent national demonstrations have just ended. One, the Child Support Noncustodial Parent Employment Demonstration (CSPED) tested child support-led employment programs, which provided intensive case management, enhanced child support services, employment services, and parenting education. Two others, the Enhanced Transitional Jobs Demonstration (ETJD) and the Subsidized and Transitional Employment Demonstration (STED), tested subsidized employment with specific enhancements designed to improve results. This roundtable will describe the results of these recent demonstrations, reflect on how these new findings add to our knowledge of providing services to this population, discuss where local programs are taking these learnings, and consider future directions for the field. Each of the experts on this roundtable has over 20 years of being involved in this field. The moderator is a Federal Project Officer with the Office or Planning and Research and Evaluation with the Administration of Children and Families.