The first paper, In Their Words: Parent Perspectives on Their Interactions with the Child Support Program from the PJAC Demonstration, describes the child support experiences of custodial and noncustodial parents whose cases had reached the point of a civil contempt filing due to noncustodial parents' noncompliance with their child support orders. The demonstration's control group proceeded to the standard civil contempt process, while the program group instead received procedural justice-informed services intended to help address their underlying reasons for nonpayment. These interviews will help unpack whether the efforts at incorporating procedural justice into child support services among program group members led to improved experiences from the parents' perspective. The second paper, "I Don't Have A Crystal Ball": Enforcing Child Support Obligations in the Era of COVID-19, focuses on practice changes undertaken by child support and court staff in response to the pandemic. Interestingly, many of the reported shifts in practice aligned with the PJAC service model, suggesting that staff members' descriptions of increased consideration of parents' circumstances during the pandemic ultimately led them to adopt more procedurally-just approaches. The third paper, Fair Treatment and Child Support Payments, further extends the exploration of the use of procedural justice in child support to understand whether improved perceptions of fairness among noncustodial parents led to increased payments to support children's wellbeing. Finally, Child Support Issues and Access to Justice: Evidence from Custodial Mothers in Colombia describes custodial mothers' response to child support issues such as nonpayment, highlighting the importance of enhancing their access to justice to find a remedy, especially for those socioeconomically disadvantaged.
The papers in this symposium leverage multiple research methods, from qualitative analysis of in-depth interviews to quantitative modeling. Presenters and discussants reflect diversity across lines of race/ethnicity, gender, nationality, affiliation, and discipline. The symposium is capped by two senior discussants, an academic with expertise in these topics and a policy leader from DHHS (now retired). Both will discuss the implications of these papers for social policy and practice. Additionally, this symposium explores timely topics such as (1) the adaptations to services made by social service agencies, such as the child support program, during the COVID-19 pandemic and the "new normal" likely to persist into a post-COVID world and (2) the growing emphasis on fair treatment in the legal system, and its implications for wellbeing of both custodial and noncustodial parents and their children.