Integrating A Two-Generation Approach to Child Support Services – Colorado’s Service Level Approach
Transforming Colorado’s Child Support Services to a Two-Generation Approach
Lessons Learned and Impact Results from Implementing an 11-County Randomized Controlled Study
The Colorado Department of Human Services’ (CDHS) Division of Child Support Services (CSS) embarked on an innovative partnership with counties to transform child support services in Colorado from a traditional enforcement approach to a family-centered multigenerational approach, commonly known as the “two generation” or “2Gen” approach to child support services. “2Gen” is the catchall term used to describe those approaches that focus on both generations (the children and their parents or adult caregivers) to help families escape the cycle of poverty. For CSS, the primary goal of the 2Gen approach is to support family income growth by providing both parents with access to employment services and the tools needed to build social capital and improve children’s long-term outcomes. The secondary goal of the 2Gen approach focuses on strengthening the willingness of parents to pay child support by offering co-parenting and parenting programs aimed at improving relationships among parents and their children.
Packaged, replicable models of the 2Gen approach for child support services did not exist when the State of Colorado began the process of transforming the work of child support services. So, CDHS partnered with the evaluation team to develop an innovative model and initiated a pilot study known as the 2Gen Child Support Services Transformation Project (the “2Gen Project”). The long-term goal of the 2Gen Project examines the extent to which this cutting-edge model meets the goals of improving important outcomes associated with multi-generational poverty for children and the entire family.
Transforming Colorado’s Child Support Services to a Two-Generation Approach: Lessons Learned and Impact Results from Implementing an 11-County Randomized Controlled Study
An implementation and an outcome study were conducted in eleven counties. The purpose of the implementation study was to describe the degree to which counties implemented the model with fidelity and identify lessons learned that may inform subsequent efforts to transform child support. Two of the eleven counties fully implemented 2Gen Child Support Services; nine of the counties were rated as in the process of transitioning to a 2Gen model. Caseworkers use of advanced motivational interviewing skills and their engagement of non-custodial parents were among the key differences between the counties that fully implemented the 2Gen model and those that were transitioning to delivering 2Gen services.
The impact of the model on child support payment was measured through a randomized controlled trial. Child support cases were randomly assigned within each of the eleven counties to either the 2Gen approach or business as usual. There was no statistically significant difference in child support payment outcomes between the two groups. The research team recommends shoring up implementation fidelity and reassessing outcomes when more counties are fully implementing the 2Gen model.
Colorado Department of Human Services, Child Support Division
Center for Policy Research