Single-Parent Families

Single-parent families are more likely than two-parent families to live in poverty. Not surprisingly, many of the participants in MDRC’s evaluations and demonstrations across policy areas are single parents and their families.

The Latest

The Procedural Justice-Informed Alternatives to Contempt (PJAC) project integrates procedural justice (the idea of fairness in processes) into enforcement at six child support agencies. This brief describes PJAC’s approach to forgiving parents’ child support debt as an incentive for positive behavior—for example, making consistent payments.


Home visiting provides information, resources, and support to expectant parents with low incomes and families with young children and low incomes. This report presents the proposed design for long-term follow-ups with families in a recent large study of home visiting, continuing through the time their children are in high school.

Key Documents

This report from the national Employment Retention and Advancement Project examines the 27,000 single parents who participated in the studied programs to understand the characteristics of those who successfully advanced in the labor market.


As the first major effort to use a behavioral economics lens to examine human services programs that serve poor and vulnerable families in the United States, the BIAS project demonstrated the value of applying behavioral insights to improve the efficacy of human services programs.