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Texas Non-Custodial Parent Choices: Program Impact Analysis

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Publication Date: September 2008

Author(s): Stephanie Chiarello; Daniel Schroeder

Funder(s): Texas. Attorney-General's Office

Funder(s): Texas. Attorney-General's Office

Topic: Social conditions (Public welfare and social services)

Keywords: Employment Services; Enhanced Child Support

Type: Report

Coverage: Texas


In 2005, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), Texas Workforce Commission, and child support courts initiated a five-site child support compliance and employment pilot project linking IV-D courts, OAG child support, and local workforce development boards. The project, called NCP Choices, provides employment services linked to enhanced child support monitoring to low-income non-custodial parents (NCPs) who have fallen behind on their child support payments. The pilot was expanded to an additional five sites with the service equivalent of 12 sites in 2007.

Researchers at the Ray Marshall Center for the Study of Human Resources estimated impacts of NCP Choices on key outcome measures after several years of operation in the four of the five original sites, and studied the implementation and process of NCP Choices. Program impacts were estimated using a scientifically valid quasi-experimental comparison group design.

Results indicated that, relative to the comparison group, NCPs ordered into the program:

Paid their child support 50% more often, and paid $54 per month more, for a 44% increase in total collections;
Paid their child support 53% more consistently over time;
Continued to pay their child support more often, in greater amounts, and more consistently over time even two to three years after the program;
Were employed at 18% higher rates, an effect that also persisted at least two to three years after the program;
Were about one quarter as likely to file an unemployment claim in any given month in the first two years after the program;
Participated in NCP Choices workforce development 80% more than did the comparison group;
The custodial parents (CPs) associated with NCP Choices participants were 17% less likely to receive TANF benefits in the first year after the program, and 13% less likely two to three years after the program; and,
Although the earnings of employed NCP Choices participants was initially lower in the first year--likely a result of more of them entering new employment at a somewhat lower wage--there was no difference in average earnings two to three years after program entry.

In summary, NCP Choices appears to have successfully achieved all of its program goals. The combination of increased frequency, amount, and consistency of child support payments made by those ordered into NCP Choices, increased employment rates, reduced unemployment claims by NCPs, and reduced TANF receipt by associated CPs all point to greater economic self-sufficiency on the part of CPs and NCPs. Also very encouraging is the fact that these positive findings persisted for two to three years after the program, whereas the one negative finding, of reduced earnings among the employed, dissipated after the first year. Finally, the fact that positive impacts were reported in all sites on most of the outcome measures suggests that NCP Choices has a sustainable and replicable program design that should continue to produce benefits in all of the sites. This bodes well for any future expansion, perhaps even statewide.

A formal cost-benefit analysis was not part of this report. It is nonetheless clear that the economic benefits to the state, to taxpayers, and to the NCP Choices participants and their families were substantial. Even a conservative tabulation would suggest that the economic benefits were roughly twice the costs. Given the high level of success observed thus far, a statewide expansion of this program would significantly benefit the state of Texas and low-income families alike.