Working with Low-Income Cases: Lessons for the Child Support Enforcement System from Parents' Fair Share. 3. An Overview of the PFS Intake Process

05/01/1998

At this point, it is useful to summarize (1) the steps in the process of identification and referral of noncustodial parents to PFS, (2) the way in which this process facilitated the sorting of CSE cases, and (3) results of this sorting process. During the PFS Demonstration, NCPs might be identified for the program in two ways: intensively working a random sample of CSE cases (which occurred in three sites) and reviewing the status of NCPs who attended review hearings (which occurred in all seven sites).

Sources of PFS Referrals

illustrates these two methods of PFS intake. In three sites, local staff provided MDRC with a list of CSE cases that appeared to meet the PFS eligibility criteria: the CP is receiving or has received AFDC, there is at least one child in the household for whom current child support is owed, the NCP has an address on file within the PFS program service area (usually the county), and child support payments are not current. MDRC staff then randomly assigned one-third of these cases to a research group designated to receive standard CSE (the "standard" group) whose members were not eligible for referral to PFS. The other two-thirds of these cases were randomly assigned to a research group slated for enhanced child support enforcement efforts (the "enhanced" group); members of this group could potentially be referred to PFS. Local staff made special efforts to determine whether these cases were appropriate for PFS, as discussed below. In order to test the effectiveness of PFS program services, those NCPs in the enhanced group who appeared for a review hearing and appeared to be appropriate for PFS were randomly assigned to the program group (referred to PFS) or the control group (subject to standard CSE). The details of this process are discussed below in section I.

In all seven sites, local CSE staff worked to identify through a variety of means (besides drawing a random sample from the caseload) other NCPs who appeared to be potential referrals to PFS and to determine at a review whether this was so. Enforcement staff reviewed cases they were handling and brought potential referrals in for a hearing or reviewed the regular court dockets for enforcement cases in which NCPs appeared to be potential referrals. When NCPs appeared at a review hearing, local staff determined the status of their case and whether referral to PFS was appropriate. As discussed above, those NCPs for whom PFS appeared to be an appropriate response were randomly assigned to the program group (referred to PFS) or the control group (subject to standard CSE). The details of this process are discussed below in section II.