Giving Noncustodial Parents Options: Employment and Child Support Outcomes of the SHARE Program. Data Sources and Methodology

10/01/2003

The sample members for this study are NCPs with outstanding current child support orders who were referred by DCS to YCPA for initiation of contempt proceedings between July 1, 1998, and September 30, 2001. NCPs were considered to have outstanding orders if they currently owed child support and had not paid child support for the previous 60 days or longer. There were 574 such referred noncustodial parents in our sample.

MPR collected data on the SHARE participation and outcomes of each sample member. YCPA provided participation data on the 574 referred NCPs from a database it maintained on SHARE participants and on the participants' activities. These data are the basis for our analysis of program participation. We also collected administrative data from the state for all 574 NCPs on employer-reported earnings, child support payments, and receipt of TANF and food stamp benefits.

We used the administrative data to construct variables describing the employment, earnings, and child support payments for NCPs over the four calendar quarters preceding the quarter of referral to SHARE through as many as 15 quarters after the quarter of referral. Because sample members were referred toSHARE over time, the number of quarters of data available varies by individual; data for later quarters are available for fewer sample members. In this report, we present analyses only for the quarters in which data were available for the majority of sample members. We present data on employment and earnings through the sixth quarter after referral to SHARE, and on child support payments through the ninth quarter after referral.

To address questions about program participation, we analyzed information on the flow of NCPs from DCS to YCPA, and from YCPA to WtW, and information on the resolution of referred child support cases. Chapter II presents the results of this analysis. However, no data on actual participation in WtW activities was examined for this report, so we cannot comment on either the extent of participation or the intensity of service receipt among NCPs referred for WtW services.

To address questions on program outcomes, we compared data on employment, earnings, and child support payment for the quarters preceding referral to SHARE with data on the same outcomes for the quarter of referral to SHARE and for the quarters after referral. We examined these pre-post trends for sample members as a whole, but also for subgroups. In particular, we analyzed data from before and after referral for sample members who appeared at their contempt hearing and for those who did not appear for the hearing. Among those who appeared at their hearing, we further examined pre-post data separately for those who were referred to WtW services and for those who were not referred. In addition to making pre-post hearing comparisons, we compared these subgroups with each other to explore differences in the patterns of outcomes for NCPs who followed different paths through the initiative. These comparisons provide useful profiles of the extent to which NCPs' "trajectory" of outcomes follows the course intended by the SHARE program.

Endnotes

2.  The WtW regulations defined "poor work history" as having worked no more than 13 consecutive weeks full-time in unsubsidized employment during the prior 12 months.

3.  This extension was granted largely in response to the difficulties that most grantees encountered enrolling participants under the BBA's original eligibility criteria, which lasted for most of the grants' original implementation period. These implementation issues are discussed in more detail in Fender et al. (2000) and in other reports from the national WtW evaluation.

4.  Formerly, the Tri-Valley Private Industry Council.

5.  We refer to a noncustodial parent as "he" or "him" because 88 percent of the referred cases were men.

6.  Tri-County WDC contracted with three organizations to provide the majority of WtW services: (1) People for People, (2) the Yakima Valley Opportunities Industrialization Center, and (3) the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic.

7.  YCPA staff also could modify existing child support orders for NCPs who, at their hearing, preferred to find employment and/or resume paying child support on their own.

8.  According to YCPA staff, the child support orders of SHARE participants (that is, those NCPs who appeared at their court hearings and agreed to cooperate with SHARE) were routinely modified to limit initially the state's collection against the NCP's wages to no more than 50 percent of the net amount the state could collect under current statutes. YCPA staff reviewed these modified orders on a regular basis and increased the amount of child support collected as the NCPs' employment and income increased.

9.  For results of the two surveys, see Perez-Johnson and Hershey (1999) and Perez-Johnson et al. (2000). Findings from the exploratory site visits are discussed in Nightingale et al. (2000).

10.  Findings from the process visits are discussed in Nightingale (2001) and Nightingale et al. (2002). Topical briefs on recruitment challenges and strategies (Fender et al. 2000) and on the approaches used by programs serving NCPs (Martinson et al. 2000) also are available.

11.  Reports by Hillabrant and Rhoades (2000), Hillabrant et al. (2001), and Hillabrant and Pindus (2003) document findings to date from the tribal study.

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