Recent strides in behavioral psychology and economics lead to the widespread use of techniques that coax clients to alter their behaviors. These “nudges,” actions used to help improve decision-making, are effective in spurring positive behavioral change without substantial investments.
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Agencies such as the Texas Attorney General’s Child Support Division already use simple tweaks to collection notices—such as removing the logo of the Attorney General and simplifying the language used—to improve collections.
Several US states have implemented predictive models to help child support enforcement officers identify noncustodial parents at risk of falling behind on their child support payments. The goal: to enable child support officers to focus more on prevention and less on enforcement. For example, noncustodial parents identified as at-risk by a predictive model could be encouraged to fill out commitment cards, perhaps adorned with their children’s photographs. In addition, behavioral nudge principles could be used to design financial coaching efforts.