Advancing a Behavioral Economics Approach to Child Support Compliance

The Los Angeles County Child Support Services (CSS) is working to enforce child support orders, including the collection of monies, to help positively affect the financial stability of the children it serves. To improve payment compliance and the customer experience, CSS brought in FUSE Executive Fellow Amanda Wang Valentine, who used a mix of applied behavioral science and psychology, human-centered design, systems creation, and lean methodology to remove some of the emotional, literacy, and logistical barriers to engaging in the child support process. Her work helped CSS improve its services, making them easier to understand and use, and set the stage for strengthening the customer experience throughout the organization. To do this work, Amanda launched two pilots, which are now permanent initiatives, focused on pre-emptive outreach to new participants paying support when a case is opened. As a result, payers paid 36 percent faster and were 2 times more likely to pay on time in the first month than control groups; after almost a year, 36 percent paid every month, versus 18 percent in the control group. At the start of COVID-19, Amanda also launched a pilot to help managers be more effective at leading remotely and during uncertain times. This dramatically improved internal employee experience, communications, collaboration, and employee self-sufficiency. The training is now being scaled to all managers. Additionally, she co-designed a new system to pilot onboarding customers who have court orders, including new processes to increase the likelihood of collecting monies on previously owed amounts and reduce the likelihood of enforcement remedies levied against payers.

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