A Georgia county hopes to educate non-custodial parents who have repeatedly failed to make child support payments, helping them to better provide for their children rather than face jail time. The county has partnered with a local college to offer educational services aimed at helping participants obtain GEDs and diplomas, job training, drug counseling and crucial parenting skills.
According to a representative with the Georgia Division of Child Support Services, the primary goal of the program is to help non-custodial parents avoid the problems commonly that cause them to repeatedly miss child support payments, offer an alternative to jail time for late payments and to represent the best interests of their children.
In order to qualify for the program, parents must not have criminal charges pending in court, nor may they be violent offenders. They must, however, be in jail or face arrest or an open case for contempt of non-payment of child support.
The Georgia Department of Human Services appears to have been successful in one participating county, which collected $45,000 in child support payments during its first year of adoption. The county also spent $178,000 on incarceration non-paying parents.
Missing child support payments remain a significant problem for the state of Georgia; the state DHR says that about 4 of 10 parents obliged to pay child support in Georgia are delinquent. A parent incarcerated for this offense typically remains jailed for three months, costing the state about $4,500 per inmate. Furthermore, imprisoned parents cannot pay child support while in jail, further increasing their debts. Parents who cannot find sufficient employment to cover these delinquent sums often end up back in jail, creating a cycle that harms the parents, their children and the state.
Source: CovNews.com, "Court to hold parents accountable," Amber Pittman, Jan, 15, 2013