The HEROES Program: Child Support Enforcement Among Veterans of War
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Over the last century the system of child support in the United States has evolved into a massive sprawling bureaucracy, illustrative of modern American cooperative federalism. Within this system the federal government provides a firm legal basis and substantial funding for state child support agencies, while the states themselves are responsible for the implementation and enforcement of child support orders. Recently, the federal government has assumed the role of promoting experimental programs in the states, which focus primarily on noncustodial parent compliance with child support enforcement. Through the Project to Avoid Increasing Delinquencies (PAID), the United States Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) provided the Texas Office of the Attorney General (OAG) with a 1115 grant for a pilot child support program, known as the HEROES Program. This program is specifically designed to bring both active duty military members and veterans into compliance with their child support obligations, as well as assist the families of this group with their child support issues. The purpose of this applied research project is to conduct a preliminary exploration and evaluation of the HEROES Program, utilizing a mixed methods case study approach, which targets archival records casework data and interview responses of key experts in and around the HEROES Program. Analysis of this data provides an early snapshot of (1) the veteran population under the outreach of the HEROES Program, (2) the relationships between the HEROES Program and other government entities with which it cooperates, and (3) the procedures and guidelines used to evaluate and expedite child support cases for the military population under its outreach.