Using Principles of Procedural Justice to Engage Disconnected Parents
Engaging parents with the child support program is hard. The federal Office of Child Support Enforcement funded the Procedural Justice-Informed Alternatives to Contempt (PJAC) grant to explore ways to integrate procedural justice principles into child support enforcement. This brief explores ways that the principles were used to improve parent engagement with the program. There are five main elements of procedural justice: respect, understanding, voice, neutrality, and helpfulness. To increase engagement, the grant recipients applied these principles to the various ways they communicate with parents. Strategies included personalized communications, including the case manager’s name and direct phone number on communications, a commitment to return calls within a specific time period, and questions designed to ensure a parent understood the conversation. Grant recipients found that using these strategies helped to build trust and understanding, which leads to greater parental engagement.