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The SSRC Library allows visitors to access materials related to self-sufficiency programs, practice and research. Visitors can view common search terms, conduct a keyword search or create a custom search using any combination of the filters at the left side of this page. To conduct a keyword search, type a term or combination of terms into the search box below, select whether you want to search the exact phrase or the words in any order, and click on the blue button to the right of the search box to view relevant results.

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The SSRC Library collection is constantly growing and new research is added regularly. We welcome our users to submit a library item to help us grow our collection in response to your needs.


  • Individual Author: Saunders, Correne; Passarella, Letitia L.; Born, Catherine E.
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2014

    This report uses multivariate linear regression from a sample of 3,680 new child support orders to estimate the effect of high support orders relative to an obligor’s income—order-to-income ratio—on child support collections. (author abstract)

    This report uses multivariate linear regression from a sample of 3,680 new child support orders to estimate the effect of high support orders relative to an obligor’s income—order-to-income ratio—on child support collections. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Griswold, Esther A.; Pearson, Jessica
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2005

    This article describes four demonstration projects that strive to promote responsible behavior with respect to parenting, child support payment, and employment among incarcerated and paroled parents with child support obligations. These projects, conducted in Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Texas, with support from the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement and evaluated by the Center for Policy Research, led to a number of common outcomes and lessons. The projects revealed that inmates want help with child support, parenting, and employment and that prisons can be effective settings in which to conduct such interventions. Family reintegration programs were popular with inmates and may have helped to avoid the rupture of parent–child relationships commonly associated with incarceration. Although employment is the key to child support payment following release, rates of postrelease employment and earnings at all project sites were low and the employment programs were of limited utility in helping released offenders find jobs. Agencies dealing with child support,...

    This article describes four demonstration projects that strive to promote responsible behavior with respect to parenting, child support payment, and employment among incarcerated and paroled parents with child support obligations. These projects, conducted in Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Texas, with support from the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement and evaluated by the Center for Policy Research, led to a number of common outcomes and lessons. The projects revealed that inmates want help with child support, parenting, and employment and that prisons can be effective settings in which to conduct such interventions. Family reintegration programs were popular with inmates and may have helped to avoid the rupture of parent–child relationships commonly associated with incarceration. Although employment is the key to child support payment following release, rates of postrelease employment and earnings at all project sites were low and the employment programs were of limited utility in helping released offenders find jobs. Agencies dealing with child support, employment, and criminal justice need to adopt more effective policies with incarcerated parents including transitional job programs that guarantee immediate, subsidized employment upon release, child support guidelines that adjust for low earnings, and better training and education opportunities during incarceration. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Wyckoff, Laura ; McVay, Mary ; Wallace, Dee
    Reference Type: Stakeholder Resource
    Year: 2009

    Research shows that nearly half of all children born in the US today will be eligible for child support before they reach the age of 18. Many low-income, noncustodial fathers—who often struggle to make these payments—will seek services from workforce development organizations. Yet, understanding the child support enforcement system can be challenging—not only for noncustodial fathers but also for the workforce organizations that want to assist them. 

    Navigating the Child Support System aims to help meet this challenge by providing information, resources and tools to use at the intersection of workforce development and child support enforcement. The guide is based on lessons from the Fathers at Work initiative, a three-year, six-site demonstration funded by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, which was designed to help young, noncustodial fathers achieve increased employment and earnings, involvement in their children's lives and more consistent financial support of their children. 

    The guide describes child support enforcement regulations, policies and actions that...

    Research shows that nearly half of all children born in the US today will be eligible for child support before they reach the age of 18. Many low-income, noncustodial fathers—who often struggle to make these payments—will seek services from workforce development organizations. Yet, understanding the child support enforcement system can be challenging—not only for noncustodial fathers but also for the workforce organizations that want to assist them. 

    Navigating the Child Support System aims to help meet this challenge by providing information, resources and tools to use at the intersection of workforce development and child support enforcement. The guide is based on lessons from the Fathers at Work initiative, a three-year, six-site demonstration funded by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, which was designed to help young, noncustodial fathers achieve increased employment and earnings, involvement in their children's lives and more consistent financial support of their children. 

    The guide describes child support enforcement regulations, policies and actions that can affect fathers' willingness to seek formal employment and participate in the system, and provides examples of four services that organizations might offer to benefit fathers and their families. Navigating the Child Support System offers concrete suggestions for incorporating child support services into workforce organizations' assistance to low-income, male participants, including developing partnerships with local child support enforcement agencies. It includes seven tools for learning about child support and setting goals for enhancing services to noncustodial fathers. (publisher abstract)

  • Individual Author: Waller, Maureen; Plotnick, Robert
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 1999

    Child support has become a pressing policy concern in California. The shortcomings of the state’s child support system have prompted both a new state department and numerous proposals for reform. This study poses a key question: why does the child support system break down for so many low-income families? Part of the answer lies in the mismatch between child support policy and the experiences of many low-income parents. As a result of this mismatch, many poor parents prefer informal arrangements to full compliance with regulations that they perceive to be unfair, counterproductive, or punitive. The authors, Maureen Waller and Robert Plotnick, conclude that child support policy should honor both the need for effective enforcement and constraints on low-income families. (author abstract)

    Child support has become a pressing policy concern in California. The shortcomings of the state’s child support system have prompted both a new state department and numerous proposals for reform. This study poses a key question: why does the child support system break down for so many low-income families? Part of the answer lies in the mismatch between child support policy and the experiences of many low-income parents. As a result of this mismatch, many poor parents prefer informal arrangements to full compliance with regulations that they perceive to be unfair, counterproductive, or punitive. The authors, Maureen Waller and Robert Plotnick, conclude that child support policy should honor both the need for effective enforcement and constraints on low-income families. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Garfinkel, Irwin; McLanahan, Sara; Meyer, Daniel; Seltzer, Judith
    Reference Type: Book Chapter/Book
    Year: 1998

    Over half of America's children will live apart from their fathers at some point as they grow up, many in the single-mother households that increasingly make up the nation's poor. Federal efforts to improve the collection of child support from fathers appear to have little effect on payments, and many critics have argued that forcing fathers to pay does more harm than good. Much of the uncertainty surrounding child support policies has stemmed from a lack of hard data on nonresident fathers. Fathers Under Fire presents the best available information on the financial and social circumstances of the men who are at the center of the debate. In this volume, social scientists and legal scholars explore the issues underlying the child support debate, chief among them on the potential repercussions of stronger enforcement.

    Who are nonresident fathers? This volume calls upon both empirical and theoretical data to describe them across a broad economic and social spectrum. Absentee fathers who do not pay child support are much more likely to be school dropouts and low earners than...

    Over half of America's children will live apart from their fathers at some point as they grow up, many in the single-mother households that increasingly make up the nation's poor. Federal efforts to improve the collection of child support from fathers appear to have little effect on payments, and many critics have argued that forcing fathers to pay does more harm than good. Much of the uncertainty surrounding child support policies has stemmed from a lack of hard data on nonresident fathers. Fathers Under Fire presents the best available information on the financial and social circumstances of the men who are at the center of the debate. In this volume, social scientists and legal scholars explore the issues underlying the child support debate, chief among them on the potential repercussions of stronger enforcement.

    Who are nonresident fathers? This volume calls upon both empirical and theoretical data to describe them across a broad economic and social spectrum. Absentee fathers who do not pay child support are much more likely to be school dropouts and low earners than fathers who pay, and nonresident fathers altogether earn less than resident fathers. Fathers who start new families are not significantly less likely to support previous children. But can we predict what would happen if the government were to impose more rigorous child support laws? The data in this volume offer a clearer understanding of the potential benefits and risks of such policies. In contrast to some fears, stronger enforcement is unlikely to push fathers toward. But it does seem to have more of an effect on whether some fathers remarry and become responsible for new families. In these cases, how are subsequent children affected by a father's pre-existing obligations? Should such fathers be allowed to reduce their child support orders in order to provide for their current families? Should child support guidelines permit modifications in the event of a father's changed financial circumstances? Should government enforce a father's right to see his children as well as his obligation to pay support? What can be done to help under- or unemployed fathers meet their payments? This volume provides the information and insight to answer these questions.

    The need to help children and reduce the public costs of welfare programs is clear, but the process of achieving these goals is more complex. Fathers Under Fire offers an indispensable resource to those searching for effective and equitable solutions to the problems of child support. (author abstract) 

    Table of Contents 

    Introduction - Irwin Garfinkel, Sara McLanahan, Daniel Meyer, and Judith Seltzer

    Part I - What are the Policies and who are the Fathers?

    Chapter 1: A Brief History of Child Support Policies in the United States - Irwin Garfinkel, Daniel Meyer, and Sara McLanahan

    Chapter 2: A Patchwork Portrait of Nonresident Fathers - Irwin Garfinkel, Sara McLanahan, and Thomas Hanson

    Part II - How Does Child Support Enforcement Affect Fathers?

    Chapter 3: The Effect of Child Support on the Economic Status of Nonresident Fathers - Daniel Meyer

    Chapter 4: Does Child Support Enforcement Policy Affect Male Labor Supply? - Richard Freeman and Jane Waldfogel 

    Chapter 5: Child Support and Fathers' Remarriage and Fertility - David Bloom, Cecilia Conrad, and Cynthia Miller

    Chapter 6: Will Child Support Enforcement Increase Father-Child Contact and Parental Conflict after Separation? - Judith Seltzer, Sara McLanahan, and Thomas Hanson

    Chapter 7: The Effects of Stronger Child Support Enforcement on Nonmarital Fertility - Anne Case

    Part III - Should we do more to Help Fathers? 

    Chapter 8: Programs to Increase Fathers' Access to their Children - Jessica Pearson and Nancy Thoennes

    Chapter 9: Low-Income Parents and the Parents' Fair Share Program: An Early Qualitative Look at Improving 

    Chapter 10: How should we think about Child Support Obligations? - Martha Minow

    Conclusion - Irwin Garfinkel, Sara McLanahan, Daniel Meyer, and Judith Seltzer

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