Experimental Tests of Efforts to Improve Child Support Collections in Washington State

Robert D. Plotnick, University of Washington
Asaph Glosser, MEF Associates
Kathleen Moore, University of Washington
Shannon Harper, University of Washington
Emmi Obara, MEF Associates

This paper will discuss two experimental tests of interventions designed to increase child support collections from non-custodial parents from whom it is often difficult to collect. Researchers have worked with child support agency officials in Washington to develop experimental designs, monitor implementation of the interventions, and measure impacts. The first intervention was the creation of a special unit of caseworkers to intensively pursue collections in arrears-only cases with exclusively state-owed debt. Collections from such cases reimburse the State for public assistance received by custodial parents. The paper will provide findings on the impacts after 21 months. The second intervention tested the effect of sending monthly billing statements to non-custodial parents who have not had prior support orders and are not subject to wage withholding. We tested the hypothesis that regular statements will increase the regularity and amount of payment. The paper will provide impact estimates after 17 months of operation.

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 Presented in Session 133. Social Policy, the Social Safety Net, and Inequality