Applicants who took innovative approaches to improve the way child-support payments are made won funding through HHS’ Admin. for Children and Families competition that looked at the link between psychology, behavior and making timely child support payments.
ACF releases the names of the winners in the FY 2014 Behavioral Interventions for Child Support Services (CFDA Number: 93.564) competition. The overall goal of the project is to introduce and encourage institutionalizing a way of doing business that takes behavioral factors and regular evaluation into account in order to improve success.
Winners focused on areas such as early engagement, right-sizing orders, reliable payment, family-centered services, and other innovations to improve establishment and enforcement outcomes.
The funding went to child support agencies around the country for demonstration project that will better understand individuals’ behavior and decision-making ability when it comes to paying child support. The grants explore the outside-the-box field known as behavioral economics. This approach combines direct observation, psychology and related fields to explain why people may act in ways that do not appear to be in the best interests of their families – like failing to pay child support.
The winning projects were wide ranging. For example, the Texas Office of Attorney General won a $150,000 grant for Texas Start Smart, which will explore ways to increase child support payments before an income withholding order is processed by the noncustodial parent’s employer.
The Georgia Dept. of Human Services: Fulton County, DeKalb County, Macon-Bibb County, and Peach County also won a $150,000 award for a program to increase child support payments by increasing communication and engagement from the moment an income withholding order is served.
In California, the state Department of Child Support Services: Sacramento County and San Joaquin County won a $150,000 grant for Dedicated Daddies Make a Difference. The project will attempt to improve compliance by building up the self-image of non-custodial fathers.
Washington state’s project will focus on modifying or reducing the amount of child support orders for incarcerated parents while they are behind bars. And, the District of Columbia plans to explore ways to temporarily reduce child support orders for the recently unemployed.
“I cannot think of a program better suited than child support to incorporate behavioral insights into its processes,” said Office of Child Support Enforcement Commissioner Vicki Turetsky. “For years, child support workers have used theories of human behavior to improve the outcomes of child support cases. These demonstration projects will improve the operations of the program.”