December 2017 | MDRC: Peter Baird, Johanna Walter,Patrick Landers, Jonathan Timm, Beata Luczywek

An Evaluation of the Kansas Child Support Savings Initiative

The Child Support Savings Initiative was developed and implemented by Kansas to help parents who owe child support pay off debt while also saving for their children’s higher education. Parents who meet their current support obligations and make deposits into college savings plans, known as 529 accounts, receive matching reductions in their child support debts.

Using behavioral science, MDRC designed and tested ways to improve parental participation. MDRC was able to confirm other research that it is difficult to encourage individuals with low and moderate incomes to save money, and that parents owing past due child support might face even greater challenges to saving. The results of this study suggest that there are limitations in marketing child savings accounts to parents who owe past due child support and, perhaps, to low-income parents in general.

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