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Texas program helps noncustodial parents with employment

Often when we see stories about parents in the news, it is for negative things like the failure to pay child support. Two weeks ago we talked about a fugitive father who topped the list of back child support payments in Texas. After years of running from the law and running from his duties as a parent, authorities caught up with him. This week we will talk about a program in the state of Texas that helps noncustodial parents avoid situations of back payment by helping to ensure that they have employment and are therefore able to make their child support payments.

The program is run through the Office of the Attorney General and it is called the Noncustodial Parent Choices Program. The point of the program is to help create financial security in families where a noncustodial parent has unpaid child support. Parents who have back child support payments can be required to participate in the program by court order. Once in the program they will receive job training and employment services in order to facilitate child support collections. To provide job training and employment services, the Office of the Attorney General partnered with the Texas Workforce Commission.

The program started in 2005 and has expanded to 17 workforce board areas that work with 44 child support offices. The program is successful and collects $3 for every $1 spent on the program. Once a parent is ordered to participate in the program, the parent undergoes monitoring to ensure compliance and to assist with job search efforts. If a parent fails to abide by the rules of the program, the program sanctions the parent.

Not only does the program affect the amount the state has to collect in child support from parents who are behind, it also positively affects the number of families who rely on other programs like unemployment and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Finally, children whose parents were a part of the program were more likely to be covered by health insurance than children whose parents owed child support and were not a part of the program.

Source: Coloradocountycitizen.com, "Texas Attorney General helping noncustodial parents stay employed," Greg Abbott, 2/15/11

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