What We Learned from Recent Federal Evaluations of Programs Serving Disadvantaged Noncustodial Parents.

Jan 2021 | Elaine Sorensen.

In 2018, 27 percent of all children under 21 years old in the United States lived apart from a parent, often a father and referred to as a noncustodial parent by the child support program. Research consistently shows that these parents are a heterogeneous group, some of whom do not provide financial support to their children because they lack steady employment. However, a related question needs further research: Could a program that offers some form of employment services and other support services to unemployed and underemployed noncustodial parents increase their earnings, parental engagement, and child support payments? This brief summarizes three recently completed federal evaluations that address this question, all of which used a random assignment evaluation design. As discussed below, these program models delivered positive impacts on noncustodial parent employment, earnings, child support payments, and parenting, but had no impact on the amount of child support paid. 

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