In this commentary originally published by New America, Meghan McCormick and Christina Weiland argue that states should make investing in high-quality early childhood and kindergarten programs a priority in their pandemic recovery efforts.
New approaches to child support enforcement aim to be less punitive and to serve the whole family, not just child support recipients. Lessons from Washington State’s Alternative Solutions Program show how this shift in perspective has made a difference during the pandemic.
In this commentary originally published in Route Fifty, experts from MDRC’s Center for Applied Behavioral Science and BIT North America describe how government agencies can use behavioral science to adapt policies, programs, and services during the continuing pandemic crisis.
When Washington state’s Division of Child Support closed its offices in March 2020 in response to COVID-19, its employment program—Families Forward Washington—kept running with minimal interruption, because the original design was based on working remotely. Its model may offer useful pointers for other service agencies for adapting to the pandemic.
Even before the COVID-19 crisis, early care and education providers faced challenges attracting and retaining qualified, well-trained, and diverse early educators — and staff turnover can affect children’s early progress. Three approaches may help improve these workers’ access to professional education, their overall economic well-being, and their sometimes difficult working conditions.
Expanded eligibility guidelines and flexible funding options can support wider access to child care during the COVID-19 emergency, but only if parents and child care workers know how to navigate them. Agencies can use behavioral science research insights to make communications clear and concise and simplify the application process.
Amid keen interest in helping students, young adults, and low-wage workers build the skills necessary to succeed in a technologically advanced economy, MDRC is studying a range of programs that feature employer involvement, such as career pathways from high school into college and the workforce, work-based learning, apprenticeships, and sectoral training.
Home Visiting and Coordinated and Integrated Early Childhood Systems
Funders at all levels are investing in programs to support expectant parents and families with young children. MDRC is conducting research in that field in three areas: integrating systems of services that work together, getting families and children the right services, and building evidence about promising models.
Training Approaches Applied in the Procedural Justice-Informed Alternatives to Contempt (PJAC) Demonstration
The Procedural Justice-Informed Alternatives to Contempt (PJAC) project integrates procedural justice principles (the idea of fairness in processes) into enforcement at six child support agencies. This brief, intended for child support practitioners and administrators, describes the specialized training provided to staff members at the six participating agencies.
In this commentary from the final report on the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project, Sim B. Sitkin considers looking beyond individual client behavior when designing interventions to target program staff and groups of clients as well as entire organizations.