More than one-third of all children under 18 years of age — about 24 million children — live in single-parent families, a vast majority headed by single mothers. Despite improvements in collecting and distributing child support from noncustodial parents (like automatic deductions from paychecks), more than half of the custodial parents who were owed child support in 2013 received no payments or partial payments from their children’s noncustodial parent(s).
Noncustodial parents — most of whom are fathers — with low incomes and poor job prospects struggle to meet their child support obligations, and many accumulate child support debts while their children lack the financial support they need. Many of these parents’ financial struggles are attributable, at least in part, to broad shifts in the U.S. economy that have dramatically reduced the availability of well-paying jobs for workers without postsecondary training.
In partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and child support agencies in multiple states, the Families Forward Demonstration will rigorously test new strategies to improve the earnings capacity and financial knowledge of noncustodial parents who owe child support but are unable to fully meet their obligations due to low earnings. The key objective is to identify effective employment-focused approaches that can be integrated into child support programs across the country to improve financial outcomes for noncustodial parents and increase their capacity to support their children.