Researcher(s):Daniel Schroeder, Christopher T. King, Esmeralda Garcia, Sarah Looney Oldmixon and Andy David
Date: September 2005
Publication Type: Full Report (PDF)
Abstract: The Texas Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has partnered with the Texas
Workforce Commission (TWC) on a demonstration project referred to as the Non-custodial Parent Choices Initiative (or NCP Choices). The project links IV-D courts responsible for child support issues, OAG child support staff, and local workforce development boards to encourage workforce development of unemployed and/or underemployed non-custodial parents (NCPs) with unpaid child support orders, and whose child is either currently receiving public assistance or has previously received public assistance.
The Ray Marshall Center for the Study of Human Resources at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin was contracted to analyze the early implementation of the NCP Choices project in two sites and to develop an impact analysis plan.
The existing literature on child support enforcement indicates that although child support can be an important source of income in aiding single parent households to escape from poverty, receipt of child support among public assistance families remains low. Chief among the reasons for this trend are that many non-custodial parents (NCPs) are unable to meet their financial obligations due to unemployment or underemployment. Evaluations of previous programs designed to engage low-income NCPs in workforce programs often suffered from low enrollment (for voluntary programs), as well as implementation and service coordination challenges. Evidence suggests, however, that mandatory programs with "swift and certain consequences" for non-participation can help to alleviate enrollment problems. Should these problems be overcome, additional research evidence suggests that low-income NCPs, if successfully engaged in workforce services, can better meet their child support obligations.
The process analysis focused on the early implementation of NCP Choices in El Paso and Galveston/Brazoria Counties in late summer, 2005. The NCP Choices model is straightforward: noncompliant NCPs are given the choice of paying their child support, participating in workforce services, or going to jail. The primary distinguishing features of NCP Choices are mandatory participation and clear choices - pay, play or pay the consequences.