Massachusetts Parent Support Program: Final Reportclick to download
The “Family Centered Services for Unwed Parents in the IV‐D Caseload” grant (90FD0141) was awarded to the Child Support Enforcement Division of the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) on September 30, 2009. The goal of the project, which was known locally as the Parent Support Program of Hampden County (PSP), was to develop, implement, and evaluate a program providing employment, parenting‐time, and case management services to low‐income, unwed parents in the child support program in Hampden Probate and Family Court and the Title IV‐D caseload of Hampden County. The family‐centered services approach emphasizes assessing a family’s needs and strengths from that family’s perspective with a positive and proactive, rather than deficit‐based, approach. In the child support arena, this typically involves emphasizing employment for noncustodial parents, encouraging cooperation between parents, and strengthening parents’ emotional connection with their children. Family‐centered services may be provided by the child support enforcement agency or other state agencies, organizations, and groups, including workforce centers, community‐based programs, schools, and faith‐based groups.
As part of this project, DOR collaborated with the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court to identify and serve relevant parents in the child support system in Hampden County. To identify the service needs of families, project staff conducted brief assessments at the court with parents who were about to establish an initial order for child support. The screenings identified challenges that noncustodial parents had that might reduce their chances of supporting their children both emotionally and financially. Since the primary service need that low‐income noncustodial parents face is unemployment or underemployment, DOR established a partnership with FutureWorks, an employment services provider in Hampden County with whom it had previously collaborated. In addition, a case manager was available at the court to work with interested parents to develop a parenting plan, and a referral network was developed with other public and private agencies in Hampden County for other needed services such as substance abuse treatment.
This report describes the design and operation of the Parent Support Program and the results of a comprehensive process and impact evaluation conducted by the Center for Policy Research (CPR) of Denver, Colorado, to assess its strengths and limitations.
Issues & Focus Areas
- Child Support
- Child Welfare
- Early Childhood & Education
- Economic Security & Healthcare
- Father Engagement & Healthy Relationships
- Gender-Based Violence