Grant to bring broad support services to struggling noncustodial parents

DENVER (Feb. 2, 2016) – The Colorado Department of Human Services’ Division of Child Support Services is one of six agencies selected to participate in a nationwide research project aimed at increasing reliable child support payments among noncustodial parents. The project would prepare them to work in higher-paying, in-demand jobs with opportunities for career advancement.

The Families Forward Demonstration, largely financed by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and buttressed by federal matching grants, will work in lockstep with nonprofit research organization MDRC over the next four years to establish, implement and evaluate the pilot program.

Employment training, financial awareness education and other services will be offered for noncustodial parents unable to pay their child-support orders in full. Core services will be carried out in collaboration with community partners that specialize in providing occupational skills training, activities to help noncustodial parents improve their financial capacity, and case management.

Colorado already has been part of an eight-state federal grant since Oct. 2013 called CO-PEP, whose mission is similar to the new grant and includes five counties – Boulder, Jefferson, Arapahoe, El Paso and Prowers. The Families Forward Demonstration adds Adams and Larimer Counties, nearly doubling the number of parents who will be provided these services. The Division of Child Support Services plans to replicate many aspects of the successful CO-PEP program with an even stronger emphasis on career pathways as part of this two-generation initiative, which seek to address the needs of vulnerable children and parents together.

“Increased offerings such as Nurturing Fathers curriculum, enhanced employment services, mediation, and other wrap-around services will better allow noncustodial parents to engage with their children and provide them with the means to pay for child support, which, in the big picture, are the desired outcomes,” said Larry Desbien, Director of Child Support Services for CDHS.

The Families Forward Demonstration project will begin in 2016 with a year-long planning phase during which the program model is defined, service delivery and research procedures planned, and partner organizations charged with implementing training, financial education and other key services selected.
The Division of Child Support Services plans on enrolling at least 400 noncustodial parents into the demonstration over the following 12-18 months before the follow-up evaluation period.

The Demonstration will impact, and provide data for three outcomes related to noncustodial parents’ capacity to be providers, parents and partners: entry into meaningful employment, job retention and increased earnings; increased financial management skills through educational trainings focused on literacy on numeracy skills and better understanding of financial health and stability; and increased and more consistent child support payments of monthly support obligations and/or arrears among noncustodial parents.

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