The NCP Choices PEER Curriculum Enhancement Pilot, a court-ordered program, provided noncustodial parents whose children were receiving public assistance (or who had previously received public assistance) with a parenting, relationship skills, and financial education curriculum (known as the PEER Curriculum Enhancement) in addition to job-readiness and job-search services at the local one-stop career center; only the PEER Curriculum Enhancement was tested to determine its effectiveness.
The Office of the Attorney General partnered with the Texas Workforce Commission and Title IV-D court (part of the state child support enforcement system) to administer the program with the goal of helping parents become more responsible parents and preventing them from falling behind on child support payments. Noncustodial parents were offered eight weekly, two-hour group workshops covering financial responsibility, parenting and co-parenting skills, and financial education. Group workshops included other noncustodial parents; a facilitator; and a peer coach, who was an NCP Choices program graduate who maintained employment and met child support obligations.
The NCP Choices PEER Curriculum Enhancement Pilot was a mandatory program. Participants entered the program as a result of a court order. Noncustodial parents who were noncompliant with their child support orders were given the choice of participating in the program instead of going to jail or paying their child support arrears in full. Noncustodial parents ordered into the NCP Choices PEER Curriculum Enhancement were exempt from participation in workshop sessions if they obtained employment before the start date of the first session and if job requirements prevented them from attending sessions. All participants also received standard NCP Choices services, which included job search assistance, supportive services, assessments, and employment retention support. Workforce Development Boards in Hidalgo County, El Paso, and the Beaumont/Port Arthur region of Texas operated the program.
The NCP Choices PEER Curriculum was an extension of the original NCP Choices program that began in 2005. The effectiveness of the NCP Choices PEER Curriculum when compared with NCP Choices indicates the effect of the services that are unique to the NCP Choices PEER Curriculum, or how much better the addition of the PEER Curriculum meets participants’ needs than NCP Choices. The NCP Choices PEER Curriculum provided a parenting, relationship skills, and financial literacy curriculum in addition to job-readiness and job-search services, whereas NCP Choices only offered job-readiness and job-search services. The NCP Choices PEER Curriculum was one of two pilots that were designed to expand the original NCP Choices Program that began in 2005; the other pilot examined was the NCP Establishment Pilot.