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Federal Demonstration Grants Give a View Through a New Lens

Child support programs are slowly shifting from enforcement to engagement. Section 1115 of the Social Security Act gives the Department of Health and Human Services to fund demonstration grants and waivers for the Title IV-D program. These grants fund pilots or experimental activities otherwise not allowable under Title IV-D of the Act (42 U.S.C. 651, et seq.). The grants work to promote the objectives of the child support program and improve the outcomes for children. Program evaluation is required for all funded grants. These Federally funded Section 1115 grants provide an opportunity to test new ideas to help move toward this engagement. The 2023 National Child Support Enforcement Association (NCSEA) Policy Forum featured a plenary session titled, Delivering Quality Services:  Lessons from Federal (Section 1115) Demonstration Projects.”

The plenary session panelists included Ann Durkin of Ohio,  Asaph Glosser, research evaluator at MEF Associates, Michael Hayes, Senior Programs Manager at the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE)  in the Division of Program Innovation, and Sabrina Montoya, Colorado Department of Human Services Program Innovation Manager. They discussed the impact of one particular Section 1115 demonstration grant, National Child Support NonCustodial Parent Employment Demonstration (CSPED). It focused on their day-to-day operations and how it has influenced their perception of noncustodial parents. The grant helped to improve engagement with noncustodial parents.

The intent of CSPED, from The Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin, Madison’s Final Impact Report, “aimed to improve the reliable payment of child support. It provided noncustodial parents that were behind in their child support with an integrated set of child support, employment, and parenting services, through a child-support-led program. Local child support agencies were the lead agency. They contracted with partners to provide employment and parenting services.”

Gary Gamble reflects on the Child Support Parenting Employment Demonstration Grant

Courtland Consulting’s Senior Consultant and former South Caroina Department of Social Services Program Manager reflects on his work on the CSPED Grant in South Carolina. He and his team hoped the grant would help them shift from enforcement to engagement. Here are his words.

I administered the $5 million Child Support Parenting Employment Demonstration (CSPED) grant for the state of South Carolina.

South Carolina was one of eight states participating in this double-blind study. The other states involved were Iowa, Colorado, Wisconsin, California, Tennessee, Texas, and Ohio.  Through three implementation centers, in Greenville, Horry County and Charleston County we began the grant in June of 2014. We enrolled 1500 participants. 750 were given enhanced services, while the other 750 were not provided these enhanced services.  Enhanced services included employment training, parenting classes, and assistance with parenting time.

The end result in South Carolina was an 80% employment rate for noncustodial parents who received enhanced services, although a large majority had criminal records, as well as better involvement in the lives of their children.

Once enrollees completed the program, if state arrears were owed on their child support cases, up to $10,000 of those arrears were forgiven, regardless of whether they found employment.

Do you want to learn more about our child support work? Check out our child support page.

 

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