Using Interactive Workshops to Inform Development of a Child Support Learning Agenda

Using Interactive Workshops to Inform Development of a Child Support Learning Agenda

OPRE Report # 2023-228
Published: Sep 21, 2023
Publisher: Washington, DC. Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Associated Project

Evidence Capacity Support for the Administration for Children and Families

Time frame: 2020-2025

Prepared for:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation

Key Findings

The project team conducted learning agenda workshops, reviewed all learning questions generated across federal workshops, and organized questions into six topical areas. These topics cover various aspects of child support services and management of the child support program:

  1. Core child support services: Questions about best practices, innovations, and lessons learned in areas like child support orders, paternity establishment, arrears and payments, enforcement tools, trauma-informed services for families experiencing domestic violence, good cause exemptions, and the equity implications of core child support services.
  2. Supportive services: Questions about the role of child support programs in establishing parenting time and custody arrangements, equity in family strengthening services, and the effectiveness of wrap-around employment and supportive services. It also includes coordination with other agencies and the participants' experiences with services and referrals.
  3. Technology and data: Questions about how child support programs use and collect data, measure and monitor outcomes, improve data systems, ensure confidentiality for domestic violence cases, and how technology and data can support equity and accessibility of services.
  4. Outreach, engagement, and customer service: Questions related to crafting messages about child support services, engaging participants subject to cooperation requirements, providing services to meet diverse family needs, and improving equity through customer service.
  5. Partnerships: Questions about identifying best practices for developing and sustaining partnerships, effective partnerships, and collaborations at different levels of government to improve customer experience and program outcomes.
  6. Operations, administration, and program performance: Questions addressing program budgets and funding sources; staffing and staff training; communication procedures; federal performance measures; and promoting equity through operations and policies.

Across workshops, participants raised questions about identifying best practices for improving program and family outcomes, promoting equity for all child support-involved families, and supporting a more holistic, family-focused vision for the child support program. As such, questions related to equity in child support services were integrated into each of the six topical areas.

This brief describes the process used to gather input for a future child support learning agenda and summarizes the key themes in questions identified during workshops with federal staff and external experts. This brief is useful for practitioners and researchers interested in potential directions for building evidence on child support services. The methodology may be of interest to organizations seeking to engage federal and external experts to inform a learning agenda.

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