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UNH Cooperative Extension to Lead Child-Support Economic Analysis

July 9, 2008

An interdisciplinary team of UNH policy analysts and researchers received a $120,489 contract to conduct a comprehensive analysis of New Hampshire’s child-support guidelines.

The contract will fund a federally-mandated review of economic and policy guidelines used to establish child-support payments for children. The project is funded by the N.H Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Child Support Services (DCSS).

According to Malcolm Smith, project director and UNH Cooperative Extension’s family life education and policy specialist, the study will have great importance to children and families in New Hampshire who depend upon child support payments.

“Our task is to assist the division in assuring that child support payments fully reflect the cost of raising a child in New Hampshire,” said Smith.

Michael Kalinowski, associate professor of family studies, will join Smith as primary co-investigator. Reagan Baugman, assistant professor in the Whittemore School of Business and Economics, will serve as economic analyst on the project.

During the next year, the team will examine all existing policies related to child support in New Hampshire, conduct a thorough survey of similar state formulas throughout the United States, and make recommendations, if necessary, on revisions to current New Hampshire policy.

During the process, Cooperative Extension will conduct forums and interviews with stakeholders throughout the state, including family members currently paying child support, legal system representatives, child and family advocates and state legislators. Any reforms or changes to the current policy made by the research team to DCSS will be reviewed by the New Hampshire legislature in the fall of 2009.

“Cooperative Extension is a perfect fit for this project, because we have a friendly and unbiased presence in every New Hampshire county, we know how to use solid research to inform policy, and we are able to take advantage the extensive resources of UNH to insure that solid information backs any recommendations we might make,” said Smith.

“This is evident in our team. Dr. Kalinowski is a proven researcher and exemplary educator in the child policy field, and Dr. Baughman, is a proven economist who was named the university’s outstanding assistant professor for 2008,” he added.

The project team begins work immediately and hopes to have its initial report to DCSS in March of 2009. In addition to the primary research team, the project will employ a part-time research assistant to help gather and analyze demographic data.



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