Giving Compass' Take:

• Zaina Rodney explains how the Procedural Justice-Informed Alternatives to Contempt demonstration project increases the perception of fairness to improve child support compliance. 

• How can funders work to increase child support compliance to benefit children? 

• Learn about an effort to engage absent parents in child support

The Procedural Justice-Informed Alternatives to Contempt (PJAC) demonstration project integrates procedural justice principles into child support enforcement business practices in six child support agencies across the United States. Procedural justice is the idea of fairness in processes that resolve disputes and result in decisions. Research has shown that if people perceive a process to be fair, they will be more likely to comply with the outcome of that process whether or not the outcome was favorable to them.

PJAC's target population is noncustodial parents who are not compliant with their child support obligations, but who have been determined to be able to pay their child support. The goal of PJAC is to improve consistent payment among noncustodial parents who are at the point of being referred to the legal system for civil contempt of court for failure to comply with their child support orders. PJAC aims to accomplish its goal by addressing parents’ barriers to providing reliable payments and by promoting positive engagement with the child support program and the other parent.

During PJAC’s initial planning year, participating child support agencies selected staff members to serve as case managers. The majority of these new PJAC case managers previously held positions as child support enforcement workers in their agencies, though some were newly hired for the project. Most did not have formal training in the strategies that are central to providing PJAC services, and thus required instruction in a range of topics. It was also important to train leaders at each agency in these strategies, so that they could better support case managers in their work. Training began in early 2017, before case managers began their work with PJAC enrollees, and will continue for the duration of the project. This brief addresses the question, “What training was provided to child support case managers as they set out to incorporate strategies informed by procedural justice into their work with parents?”