Child Support Initiative:
Research Framework

4.0 Communications and Law Information Activities

We will undertake research to further the development, implementation and assessment of communications and law information activities to raise awareness and understanding of the Guidelines among professionals, payers and recipients of child support, and members of the general public. Findings under other components of the research program may also provide indications of the effectiveness and appropriateness of activities to date and suggest additional communications or law information needs and approaches.

Research Issues

  1. What communications and law information activities has the federal government undertaken or supported since the introduction of the Guidelines? To what extent have these activities enhanced awareness and understanding of the Guidelines among members of the public?
  2. What are the particular law information needs, with respect to the Guidelines, among sub-groups in the general population (e.g., Aboriginal and ethnocultural communities, recent immigrants to Canada, people with low literacy skills, people who cannot afford legal counsel)? What would be the most effective approaches for providing law information to these groups?
  3. Which intermediaries (e.g., court administrators, maintenance enforcement staff, public legal education and information organizations) are likely to be approached for information about the Guidelines and related issues of family law? What information would be most useful to intermediaries to help them respond to their clients' needs?

Research Strategy

In the summer of 1998, the Research Unit began a study to document communications activities undertaken by the Child Support Team and the jurisdictions in years one and two of the Initiative. The study also summarizes available data on the effectiveness of these activities. This National Overview of Communications Activities may be updated during the Initiative.

A survey assessing awareness of the Guidelines among separated or divorced parents was conducted in the Spring of 1998. The report summarizing the survey results is now available. The survey will likely be repeated periodically to monitor any changes that may occur in subsequent years.

The Child Support Team will also support law information needs assessments to identify the particular law information needs of sub-groups in the general population, as well as appropriate and effective strategies for responding to those needs. Some focus testing of existing public legal education and information materials has already been done to determine their suitability for selected Aboriginal groups..