The Family Initiatives (FI) section of the Child Support Division acts as a catalyst for family-centered child support. FI leads special projects and ongoing programs that enhance the Child Support Division's ability to respond compassionately and effectively to the changing needs of families and children in Texas. Family Initiatives works in collaboration with community and faith-based organizations, courts, schools, legal aid providers, and other public agencies. These programs lead the nation in efforts to promote responsible fatherhood, conduct parenting and paternity education, increase noncustodial parent access to children, and provide services that encourage stable family formation.
Father and Noncustodial Parent Involvement:Noncustodial Parent (NCP) Choices Services for Incarcerated noncustodial Parents Heroes for Military Children NCP COLTS Login
Shared Parenting:Federal Access and Visitation Program A&V Hotline and website A & V Online directory
Forming Families and Youth Education:Parenting and Paternity Awareness (p.a.p.a.) No Kidding: Straight Talk from Teen Parents Family Violence Education and Outreach Building Assets for Fathers and Families (BAFF)
Reports and StudiesProgram Impact Analysis Bring It Back to Texas Pilot
Family Initiatives activities focus on three areas:
- Father and Noncustodial Parent Involvement - programs and policies for fathers and noncustodial parents that strengthen their financial and emotional contributions and encourage active participation in the child support process;
- Shared Parenting - programs, resources, and policies that encourage cooperative parenting relationships as part of the child support process; and
- Forming Families and Youth Education - prevention and early intervention efforts that promot e healthy family formation, encourage responsible parenthood, and decrease the need for adversarial child support enforcement.
Father and Noncustodial Parent Involvement
Noncustodial Parent Choices
NCP Choices provides enhanced child support case compliance monitoring and employment services for noncustodial parents who are unemployed or underemployed and owe child support. Participation in the program is mandatory as ordered by IV-D Associate Judges in the 18 sites currently funded by the Texas Workforce Commission and the OAG. NCPs ordered into NCP Choices have, on average, made no payments in the eight months prior to program entry and pay an average of $169 per month in the first year after program entry. Evaluation results show this as an overall 51 percent increase in child support payments for NCPs participating in this program as compared to a control group of similar NCPs in the OAG caseload.
View a short video to find out why NCP Choices is one of the largest and most successful NCP child support/employment programs in the nation and hear from actual program participants.
Read through the program participant pamphlet to learn more about NCP Choices services, requirements, and success stories.
Services for Incarcerated Noncustodial Parents
Family Initiatives works with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), and county jails to deliver education and resources to incarcerated parents about paternity and child support issues that impact their lives while incarcerated and upon release. The OAG distributes thousands of the Incarcerated Parents and Child Support Handbook each year. The handbook covers the basics of paternity and child support and provides an inquiry form for incarcerated parents to receive information regarding case status, paternity establishment, and communication with their children. In spring 2010 the OAG will release a DVD for incarcerated parents in TDCJ and county jails that encourages them to remain emotionally and financially engaged with their children.
Family Initiatives staff is conducting a pilot in eight child support field offices to develop and test procedures and policy recommendations for modifying child support orders for incarcerated NCPs. The pilot also includes training of TDCJ Access to Courts supervisors (law librarians).
HEROES: Help Establishing Responsive Orders and Ensuring Support for Children in Military Families
HEROES for Children in Military Families is funded through a grant from the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement. The goal of HEROES is to:
- Offer service members, veterans and their dependents enhanced, personalized assistance in addressing paternity establishment, child support and parenting time (custody/visitation) matters;
- Provide appropriate relief in Texas child support cases where military service/combat related injuries have contributed to non-compliance with court orders; and
- Promote positive co-parenting solutions for service members and families.
To accomplish these goals, the HEROES project team works closely with the Judge Advocate General Corps (JAG), Family Readiness Group staff, the Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN), the Texas Veterans Leadership Program (TVLP), Texas Yellow Ribbon, and child support and legal services programs across the United States and internationally.
Since HEROES began in July 2010, the project has provided:
- more than 3,907 service members and veterans with specialized, expedited case review, assessment and legal action
- more than 345 Ft. Hood service members or dependents with individual appointments to discuss paternity, child support and parenting time issues
- 87 paternity, child support and parenting time legal clinics to more than 940 parents at Ft. Hood, Ft. Bliss and Joint Base San Antonio
- Presentations and legal briefings at multiple veterans legal clinics National Guard Yellow Ribbon events and with veteran service organizations
- Interstate child support and custody training for JAG attorneys and legal assistance staff at Ft. Hood, Ft. Bliss and Joint Base San Antonio
- All Texas Child Support Division attorneys with training conducted by VISN on recognizing and responding to post-traumatic stress disorder
For appointments, legal clinic schedule or to ask general questions, email HEROES or call (512) 460-6400.
Are you about to deploy or are you returning from deployment? Check out the Military Parents: Paternity, Child Support, Custody & Parenting Time brochure for HEROES pre- and post-deployment checklists and to review frequently asked military parent questions.
HEROES project coordination is based in Austin with HEROES assistant attorneys general serving the San Antonio and Temple/Killeen areas. HEROES assistant attorneys general represent the State of Texas. They cannot and do not represent child support customers. If you are a service member and need an attorney to represent you, contact a private attorney or Legal Assistance through the JAG.
Federal Access and Visitation Program
The Access and Visitation (A&V) program promotes noncustodial parents' access to and visitation with their children through a variety of shared parenting projects. Although federal regulations do not allow the Office of the Attorney General to use child support funding for legal services about custody or visitation disputes, the OAG does receive limited special funding to provide assistance in these matters.
The OAG administers the federal Access and Visitation grant program by awarding funds to community-based organizations. The services provided under these contracts include early intervention, co-parenting education, mediation, and enforcement.
The A&V program also provides funding for public education materials promoting cooperative parenting after divorce or separation. These materials are distributed through local courts, county domestic relations offices, OAG child support offices, and community/faith-based social service organizations. Parents establishing child support orders or seeking Access and Visitation services receive a My Sticker Calendar: A Kid's Guide to Shared Family Time. This award-winning calendar is a tool for parents and children to use to track and plan time the child spends in each parent's home. The calendar features artwork by children across the state.
The OAG maintains an online A & V directory of programs and service providers across Texas designed to facilitate shared parenting after separation or divorce. Parents, counselors, and other professionals can search the online directory by zip code, county, or service provided.
Access and Visitation Hotline and website
The Texas Access and Visitation Hotline is the only service of its kind in the nation that provides noncustodial and custodial parents with free phone access to attorneys who provide legal information and assistance related to child custody and visitation issues, as well as paternity and child support information. Hotline attorneys do not represent parents. Rather, they provide explanations of legal orders; provide tools and guidance for resolution of child access issues; and answer parents' questions regarding possession and access orders, custody, paternity and child support.
The toll-free number 1-866-292-4636 is answered in English and Spanish, Monday - Friday, 1-7 p.m. The hotline has a corresponding website, www.txaccess.org, where parents can download sample materials and tools for assistance with child access issues. Additional brief legal coaching or self-help assistance may be available to eligible Hotline callers.
Forming Families and Youth Education
Parenting and Paternity Awareness (p.a.p.a.)
p.a.p.a. is an evidence-based, educational curriculum designed for secondary school students and young adults that teaches the rights, responsibilities, and realities of parenting and stresses the benefits of sequencing parenthood after a person has completed his/her education, started a career, and is in a stable, committed relationship. Key themes in the curriculum focus on the importance of responsible fatherhood, the value of paternity establishment, the legal realities of child support, the financial and emotional challenges of single parenting, the benefits of both parents being involved in a child's life, healthy relationship skills, and relationship violence prevention.
The Office of the Attorney General provides the 14-session curriculum and training at no charge to teachers, school counselors, school nurses, teen parent program staff, and parent educators in community-based programs. The p.a.p.a. curriculum is the method by which school districts comply with state law passed by the 80th Legislature requiring high school health to include a parenting and paternity awareness curriculum.
The OAG is coordinating with TEA and Regional Education Service Centers to train teachers, nurses and counselors. Community-based organizations and larger school districts who wish to schedule training directly with the OAG can complete this form and e-mail it to OAG employee Patricia Moroney.
No Kidding: Straight Talk From Teen Parents
The No Kidding project trains and equips young parents to deliver this four-part paternity and parental responsibility curriculum to students in middle and high schools. No Kidding educators receive extensive training on paternity, child support, and parental responsibility. No Kidding Interns emphasize the challenges of parenting as a teen, explain the real costs of raising a child, highlight the legal issues parents face, and stress the value of both parents being involved in a child's life. The program is implemented through local collaborations of community based organizations, school districts, and the OAG. View the No Kidding video
Family Violence Education and Outreach
Providing child support services safely is critical to the operation of the Child Support Division (CSD). The Family Violence Education and Outreach project will implement recommendations made by CSD's domestic violence workgroup to ensure that child support policies address the safety needs of domestic violence victims and staff. The workgroup's recommendations are based on best and promising practices as identified by domestic violence experts from across the state.
The Family Violence Education and Outreach project includes:
- developing and distributing public education materials designed to promote safe access to child support services for survivors of family violence,
- reviewing and revising existing child support staff training on family violence,
- developing and implementing advanced family violence training for child support field staff, and
- developing training resources to assist family violence program staff in guiding survivors through the child support system safely.
Building Assets for Fathers and Families (BAFF)
The Texas Office of the Attorney General - Child Support Division (OAG-CSD) has undertaken a three-year federally-funded demonstration project aimed at strengthening Texas families - long-term financial stability. Financial stability services (often referred to as asset-building services) help individuals and families deal with debt, develop money management skills, save for the future and build a financial cushion to avoid the need for public benefits. Examples of financial stability programs include access to low-cost loans, financial counseling from expert financial planners and incentives to establish savings accounts.
The BAFF initiative has two components - local pilot projects and a statewide engagement component. Two local pilo t projects are underway: a Houston-based project leverages existing services at local nonprofit organizations to provide noncustodial parents with access to job training, money management classes and matched-savings opportunities to help them achieve self-sufficiency and meet their child support obligation. A project in Central Texas works with custodial parents to develop and incentivize college savings accounts, and promote higher education and job-skills for the next generation of Texans. The statewide engagement component involves OAG-CSD staff working with nonprofit financial coaches and money management practitioners to educate nonprofits and their clients about the child support system and its impact on family financial stability.
For more information:
For more information about Family Initiatives, please call 512/460-6400.