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Program aims to help parents pay child support

Making prompt and sufficient child support payments can prove to be a challenge for some noncustodial parents, especially if they are unemployed or underemployed. Many noncustodial parents who spend time in jail or prison are later released to a bad situation. Not only do they face a mounting debt of back child support, but they also do not have a way of immediately earning money in order to pay it off. This not only straps the noncustodial parent financially, but also robs the child of the greatly needed finances for everyday expenses.

While many assume that delinquent parents do not pay child support because they do not want to, the reality of the situation is that many of them do not have the means to.

A program in Louisiana was designed to take aim at this problem and help ensure that noncustodial parents with little chance of paying child support are able to meet this financial obligation.

In a joint effort between court officials and Goodwill Industries, coordinators work with noncustodial parents, assessing the skills they need to find solid employment. The Goodwill coordinator schedules regular meetings with the parents and also works with area businesses in an effort to place those parents in a job.

Those behind the program hope to take a bite out of the $619 million that Louisiana delinquent parents currently owe. By helping parents chip away at this total, they are also limiting the need for public assistance, which would come out of the pockets of the state's taxpayers.

The program costs $62,000 to operate, but organizers expect to collect far more than that in back child support, making it a worthy investment.

When it comes to deciding whether to throw delinquent parents in jail or enroll them in the program, officials point to the fact that the children benefit far more from participation in the program.

Source: The Shreveport Times, "Program helps parents pay child support," Loresha Wilson, Nov. 10, 2011

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