A-102: Noncustodial Parent Choices Program Goals

Initiated in August 2005, the NCP Choices program is a collaborative effort of the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) of Texas, local Workforce Development Boards (Boards), Workforce Solutions Office staff and family court judges. The program targets low-income unemployed or underemployed NCPs who are behind on their child support payments.

Mirrored after TWC’s Choices employment and training program for TANF recipients, the goal of the NCP Choices program is to help NCPs overcome substantial barriers to employment and career advancement while becoming economically self-sufficient and making consistent child support payments.

The success of the NCP Choices program is largely attributable to four core elements:

  • Court-ordered program participation. Failure to participate leads to “swift and certain consequences,” up to, and including, jail time.
  • Presence of Workforce Solutions Office staff at the court to meet with NCPs immediately after being ordered into the program.
  • Intensive case management by Workforce Solutions Office staff, including weekly in-person contact until NCPs enter employment, and monthly verification of continued employment.
  • Close communication with program partners regarding NCPs’ participation and progress in the program.

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A-103: Funding

Funded primarily with TWC’s TANF funds, the NCP Choices program is modeled on previous NCP employment programs and Texas’ TANF employment and training program, Choices. NCPs who are ordered into the program by the court system either participate willingly in the program or are subject to consequences determined by the court.

Additionally, OAG has provided funding to expand the program to serve low-income nonpublic assistance cases (NPA cases) with child support arrears, as well as cases that are beginning to establish child support.

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A-104: Target Population

To be eligible for the NCP Choices program, an NCP must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Have an open child support case
  • Be unemployed or underemployed
  • Reside in the geographical area served by the participating Board
  • Be legally able to work in the United States
  • Have an OAG-issued child support order
  • Have been ordered by a court to participate in the program

Beginning February 2013, eligibility criteria were expanded to include NPA cases as well as public assistance cases.

Only NCPs who meet all of the criteria listed above can participate in the NCP Choices program. NCPs cannot be referred to the program by Workforce Solutions Office staff or from other programs, and former participants cannot resume participation without a new court order. A noncustodial or custodial parent who is not eligible for the program can still access workforce services as a universal customer through a Workforce Solutions Office.

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A-105: Results to Date

Despite the fact that this is one of the hardest-to-serve populations, the NCP Choices program has seen positive employment, job retention and child support results. The following program information was collected between August 2005 and September 2015:

  • 25,400 NCPs were served.
  • 71 percent of participating NCPs entered employment.
  • 77 percent of participating NCPs entering employment retained employment for at least six months.

Additionally:

  • Custodial parents are 21 percent less likely to receive TANF benefits.
  • More than $202 million in child support was collected through September 2015, some of which was used to repay TANF, Medicaid, foster care and child support collections programs.

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A-106: NCP Choices PEER Demonstration Grant

In 2012, OAG was awarded a grant from the Office of Child Support Enforcement, an Office of the Administration for Children and Families, for the National Child Support Noncustodial Parent Employment Demonstration Project. Under this grant, Central Texas and South Texas Workforce Development Boards received funds to implement a program similar to NCP Choices over a five-year period, with the goal of improving payments of child support, and in turn improving child well-being and avoiding public costs.

The demonstration project includes Parent Employment, Education and Responsibility (PEER) workshops. OAG has developed PEER workshops to address common issues many NCPs face during their involvement with the child support system.

Currently, Central Texas and South Texas are the only two Boards operating under the NCP Choices PEER demonstration grant and implementing the PEER curriculum.

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