Eight states are developing pilot programs to educate young expecting parents about their responsibilities, including how to manage their finances, emotions and relationships.
The grant money for the programs will come from the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement, part of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families.
The childhood support agencies in each of the states will spend the next year designing the programs, which will then be monitored and refined for the next two years to see what works to improve child support collections and the outcomes for children and families.
The state agencies will reach the targeted young people through a variety of existing organizations in which many of them are already active. These included groups running youth job development programs, foster care transition services, juvenile justice agencies, teen pregnancy prevention programs, community colleges and public schools.
“The child support programs’ expertise is helping parents meet the financial, legal and emotional needs of their children,” Scott Lekan, acting commissioner of the federal office, said in a news release. “This project will connect that child support expertise to youth and young adults who aren’t yet parents, helping them make the plans, access the resources and take the steps needed to become the parents they hope to be.”
Program designs will build on previously developed and evaluated child support education curricula. Using modern digital tools, they will also reinforce core program activities to promote strong financial management and advancement, build healthy relationship skills, teach parenting skills, reduce unplanned pregnancies, prevent relationship violence and enhance general skills necessary for successful adulthood.
Last year, the Office of Child Support Enforcement oversaw the distribution of almost $28 billion, not counting tribal distributions, according to preliminary data. That money served more than 14 million children. Two-thirds of current support was collected.
The following states’ agencies are recipients of the responsible parenting and economic mobility demonstration grants, along with their first-year funding: Colorado Department of Human Services ($999,519); Iowa Department of Human Services, ($1 million); Georgia Department of Human Services ($890,401); Kentucky Department of Income Support ($942,294); Minnesota Department of Human Services ($913,929); Missouri Department of Social Services ($1 million each for two separate projects); Ohio Department of Job and Family Services ($1 million); and Texas Office of the Attorney General ($999,560).