"Agency leaders have a significant opportunity to improve program performance by meeting people where they are and pushing for better client service," said Margot Bean, managing director, Deloitte Consulting LLP, in child support services. "Furthermore, child support agencies possess a treasure trove of historical data on the cases they manage, which can be leveraged to improve performance. For example, New York City's early intervention program uses predictive analytics to identify which noncustodial parents are most likely to have challenges, and then pairs each of those parents with a caseworker who can reach out to answer questions and offer assistance."
Here are some specific steps from the report that agencies can consider to improve performance:
- Shift child support beyond enforcement by working with parents who struggle to make payments.
- Make better connections with paying parents to promote sustained cooperative behaviors.
- Modernize legacy information technology systems to leverage data effectively and bring about operational improvements.
- Leverage data analytics to better understand clients and improve services.
- Improve the employee experience to attract and retain top talent.
According to research in the report, the traditional model of child support enforcement simply doesn't work. Responding to this new reality, states like Pennsylvania are modernizing all facets of their programs — most importantly technology. Partly as a result of using data to inform day-to-day practice, Pennsylvania is the only state that meets or exceeds the standard set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Child Support Enforcement for the four federal child support performance metrics on establishment and enforcement.
Lastly, the new societal landscape of assisted reproduction, same-sex marriage, and shifting family definitions has not been fully codified into law, creating some uncertainty as to who has financial responsibilities and rights as a parent. Although these issues currently impact a relatively small fraction of cases, state legislatures and Congress should consider clarifying legislation that touches on these areas.
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