When the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement announced five years ago that it wanted to see real innovation in child support enforcement, Colorado leaped at the challenge. The Colorado Department of Human Services was awarded $2.3 million over five years and used this money to dramatically transform practice and the fundamental way we think about child support enforcement by using a 2Gen lens and working with Ascend staff to think about a different future for children.

Colorado called this new approach the Colorado Parent Employment Program, or CO-PEP. The state started the redesign with a practice that should be a part of every 2Gen effort – program architects listened carefully to the voices of family members who were experiencing traditional child support enforcement.

Ultimately, the state pursued a strategy that would move from a punitive to a supportive approach. It should come as no surprise that the outcomes for families have been truly remarkable.

Through CO-PEP, the Department focuses on helping non-custodial parent overcome barriers to employment so they can financially support their children – a quintessential 2Gen approach. Colorado found a preponderance of absentee parents who were “willing but unable” to pay child support and who were willing to engage in work, treatment, and other supports.

Read the full article on engaging absent parents by Reggie Bicicha and Roxane White at The Aspen Institute