District Wins Federal Grant to Evaluate and Improve Child Support Program

WASHINGTON, D. C. – The Child Support Services Division of the D.C. Attorney General’s office (OAG) has won a federal grant of $150,000 to seek to improve early intervention approaches to encourage non-custodial parents to become more consistent payers of child support, D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan announced today.  Combined with $291,176 in federal matching funds, OAG will receive a total of $441,176 for the first year.  The office will be eligible for a total of $1,147,057 over 5 years.

The project will be fully funded by the federal government. D.C. was one of eight jurisdictions nationally to receive grants.

The grant, from the federal Administration for Children and Families of the Department of Health and Human Services, will also  help parents request lower required payments if they lose their jobs and get better location information from custodial parents  so that non-custodial parents can be brought into court to establish a court order for payments.  

The project will examine how human service programs can use the lessons from the burgeoning social sciences field of behavioral intervention to serve families better.  Behavioral intervention looks at how to reduce the “hassle factor” so that individuals take actions that are in their best interests. The District sought the aid to become “more effective in making behavioral modifications among its customers so that they are more engaged in their cases and better provide for the financial and emotional needs of their children.”

Three employees will be hired to plan and operate the project. The project will be analyzed by an independent evaluator to determine which interventions are most effective and should be implemented in all child support cases.

The project will test ways of getting non-custodial parents to start paying just after a court order is issued so that they are “immediately engaged in the child support system.” It often is difficult now to get the first payment made by non-custodial parents before they have arranged wage withholding.

The new project will compare the current process with one in which parents are given a more detailed explanation of a support order along with payment coupons and stamped envelopes to make the first payments.
“We are excited for the opportunity to improve our processes so that parents can better support their families,” said Benidia Rice, Deputy Attorney General and Director of the Child Support Services Division.

“With this grant, we will use cutting edge social science research to help ensure that the District’s children receive the financial support that they are entitled to by law,” said Attorney General Nathan.