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Changing Attitudes: Non Custodial Parents and the Child Support Enforcement Process.

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Presentation on theme: "Changing Attitudes: Non Custodial Parents and the Child Support Enforcement Process."— Presentation transcript:

1 Changing Attitudes: Non Custodial Parents and the Child Support Enforcement Process

2 Fill the Gap Program Rev. Ernest and Cheryl Breaux 21 st Judicial District Court, Support Enforcement Hon. Leonora Estes, Hearing Officer Amite Region Support Enforcement Services Ms. Joette Chavers, Supervisor Innovative Partnership Aimed to Bring About Change

3 -Have parents positively impact their children’s lives financially, emotionally, and spiritually. -Give parents the tools and skills they need to accomplish this. -Help parents understand the purpose of child support – that it is all about their child. -Help IV-D agencies work together more effectively by providing documentation on program referrals. Our Common Goals

4 Service Region The 21 st Judicial District encompasses three rural southeast Louisiana parishes located on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain: - Tangipahoa - Livingston - St. Helena

5 Fatherlessness in Louisiana Births to unmarried women and teens: Annie E. Casey Foundation, KIDS COUNT State-level Data, Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Johnson, Tallese, Dye, Jane. Indicators of Marriage and Fertility in the US from the American Community Survey: slides.htmlhttp://www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/fertility/mar-fert- slides.html Indicator U.S.LouisianaTangipahoaLivingstonSt. Helena Births to Unmarried Women29.1%40.2%49.3%28.5%54.7% Births to Teen Mothers7.7%12.1%15.0%12.0%--

6 Children in Poverty Divorce and unwed childbirth costs Louisiana taxpayers approximately $670 million per year. Annie E. Casey Foundation, KIDS COUNT State-level Data, Scafidi, Benjamin. (2008) The Taxpayer Costs of Divorce and Unwed Childbearing: First-Ever Estimates for the Nation and All 50 States Indicator U.S.LouisianaTangipahoaLivingstonSt. Helena Children in Poverty29.1%40.2%49.3%28.5%54.7%

7 Support Enforcement Services Louisiana SES statistics show: –284,393 cases (as of 5/2010) fiscal year: –27,459 paternity establishments –21,611 new child support orders established Louisiana Department of Social Services, Office of Family Assistance, Support Enforcement Services Overview:

8 Support Enforcement Services Louisiana Support Enforcement Services collections total: Louisiana Department of Social Services, Office of Family Assistance, Support Enforcement Services Statistics 09/SupportEnforce/fy0809_SES_Prod.pdf 09/SupportEnforce/fy0809_SES_Prod.pdf Current Support Due Current Support Collected % Current Support Collected Statewide$443,049,046$253,874, % Amite Region$23,302,947$13,267, %

9 Cases – Rules Court In the 21 st Judicial District: -Approximately 7,808 collection cases -Over 43% of these parents are facing possible incarceration for non-payment of child support.

10 So what is going on? Survey conducted by the National Fatherhood Initiative: 99% indicated that being a father is an important part of who they are! Yet only 57% of them are paying child support… Deadbeat Dads – Is it a Myth or Reality? Reality is: Many are not unwilling to pay – they are unable to pay! Often those who are to pay have just lost sight of the purpose of child support.

11 Why Don’t They Pay? -Unemployed/underemployed and lack skills to maintain employment. 66.3% of referrals unemployed 30.1% of those employed are underemployed -Undereducated/Illiterate. 42.5% of referrals have less than a high school education 50.0% have only a high school diploma/GED

12 Why Don’t They Pay? -Other barriers to employment such as criminal history or lack of transportation. 42.6% have a previous or pending criminal offense 72.4% do not have a driver’s license -Experienced a life event from which they have not recovered. -Are angry with the person who has custody.

13 Why Don’t They Pay? -Denied visitation by custodial parent (thus angry). 26.3% report they rarely/never have contact w/children 15.7% have only occasional contact with children -Have no connection with their children. -Feel trapped in a system they do not understand. -Support order is more than they can afford to pay. 17.1% of referrals have more than one case -Large arrears amount – default orders

14 What IV-D Agencies Do to Encourage Compliance Administrative remedies include: Income assignment orders Locate and contact Licenses suspension Offsets Credit Bureau Court Actions

15 What IV-D Agencies Do to Encourage Compliance Judicial enforcement: 90 days incarceration Fails Our Common Goals!

16 How Fatherhood Initiatives Help Fatherhood Initiatives partnered with the Court and Support Enforcement Services perform an important function that helps to make the job of enforcing child support orders much easier. Fatherhood Initiatives work with non- custodial parents and address the very issues that stop non-custodial parents from paying their child support.

17 Fill the Gap Program Fill the Gap Program, a part of Christian Community Council, is a faith-based community outreach program *Operating since October 2003 *Partnered with the 21 st Judicial District and Amite Region Support Enforcement Services (Livingston, Tangipahoa, St. Helena parishes) *Works with non-custodial parents who are in Collections with Support Enforcement Services.

18 Results – Change in Attitude Fill the Gap Program Participants Referred Between January January 2010 according to April 14, 2010 LA Delinquent Payers List 77.8% in payment status September January 2010 according to April 14, 2010 LA Delinquent Payers List 72.1% in payment status This demonstrates long term change in attitude!

19 How Fill the Gap Helps We provide non-custodial parents a helping hand as we: -Help them understand child support enforcement and court expectations. -Help them find full-time employment -Encourage them to build productive relationships with the custodial parent. -Encourage them to become more engaged in their children’s lives. -Encourage them to overcome barriers that are preventing them from living successful, satisfying lives.

20 How Fill the Gap Helps 10 classes Orientation – “venting time,” discussion on court & SES expectations, plan of action Class topics – includes parenting and relationship skills, communication skills, life skills such as goal setting, how to find and keep employment In class assessments completed at each class; discuss how will meet court & SES expectations, contact with child(ren)

21 How Fill the Gap Helps Reporting Report progress with program, employment information, other pertinent data (each court appearance) to Hearing Officer, SES, Public Defender, Assistant District Attorney Report changes in information, requests, etc. Report on referrals and participants Reports assist court and SES in making decisions

22 How Fill the Gap Helps Attend Court Make sure client understands what they are being told Encourage clients keep track of court dates, payment amounts/receipts, etc. Encourage them to actively participate in process Help them help themselves

23 How Fill the Gap Helps Continued Monitoring Those who have completed classes – continue to monitor them via telephone for up to one year Contact and remind of court dates. Offer services as needed.

24 Results – Change in Attitude Fill the Gap Program addresses the disconnect non- custodial parents experience. It provides the one-on-one services these parents need… This results in non-custodial parents who experience long term change of attitude toward the payment of child support

25 Results – Change in Attitude Non-custodial parents begin developing problem- solving strategies to overcome barriers in life. Child support payments become a greater priority, resulting in non-custodial parents wanting/ making payments. -Participants paid on avg. $2,695 compared to $1,646 paid by referrals that did not participate -Participants on average made more payments (9 pmts vs 4 pmts) Non-custodial parents trying harder to work cooperatively with other parent to co-parent children and spend more time with children % showed an increase in visitation/contact

26 Results – Effective Alternative Viable, cost effective alternative to incarceration – Savings to taxpayers - More space in jails for serious offenders Fill the Gap Program cost per referral: $1129* Cost of 90-day incarceration: $3150** Savings of $2021 *Based on 155 referrals, with two year funding of $175,000 **Based average Louisiana taxpayer cost of $35 per day, according to National Institute of Corrections

27 Results – Effective Alternative Parents have a better understanding of the role of Support Enforcement Services. Parents have a better understanding of the importance of paying child support.

28 Results – Effective Alternative Custodial parents have greater assistance in parenting responsibilities. Payment of Child Support improves relationship between the two parents. Children are connected to both parents – resulting in healthier outcomes.

29 Results – Change in Attitude Responses from Program Participants: “Allowed you to deal with emotions, to hear others on how they get through their struggles. It gave you suggestions on how to improve relations – with mother and child; encourage you to stop putting yourself down – system down, but to focus on your child.” “Fill the Gap is a very educational class that encourages individuals about themselves, and help rebuild; what it takes in your life to feel good about yourself day to day, staying strong minded and help to be successful.” “I am able to learn more about parenting skills and information about court proceedings.”

30 Long Term Success – Change in Attitude Cornelius Cornelius was the Hearing Officer’s worst nightmare. He was very angry with the support enforcement system, and was working for cash to avoid paying child support. After attending several FTG classes, Cornelius went back to work in his trade and began making child support payments. Cornelius realized that he was only hurting himself and his daughter with his anger. Three years later we saw Cornelius – he was still making payments, still working in his trade, and had rebuilt his relationship with his daughter. He was able to watch her graduate from high school. Tyronne Tyronne had four child support cases with four different mothers. Tyronne admitted that he was young and foolish, and only had a relationship with one of his children. When referred to FTG, Tyronne was married and unemployed. Even though he did not have any children with his wife, they were raising four children belonging to other family members who were involved in drugs or incarcerated. FTG was able to refer him to a local employer, who hired him. Today, Tyronne is still working for the same employer (three years now) and states he loves his job. He continues to be in payment status, with his child support payments being deducted from his wages.

31 Long Term Success – Change in Attitude Eric and Nikki When referred to FTG, Eric was angry and had a negative attitude towards child support and his ex-wife, who refused to let him have visitation with the other two children. Eric chose not to work in his trade any longer because of safety hazards, the requirement to travel out-of-town, and the fact that he had custody of one son who was exhibiting pretty severe behavioral problems. He felt the need to be home every night with this son. In addition, Eric and his wife Nikki were raising Nikki’s two children and had his mother living with them. Eric and Nikki both indicated that they were grateful for FTG classes – they were able to apply what they learned in class at home, improving family harmony. Eric also said one of the biggest benefits for him was that he quit being angry about paying child support. We still run into Eric and Nikki, and they continue to do well. A while back Eric and his ex-wife had contact when a family member was ill, and Eric said that for the first time, it did not end in an argument. He is still hopeful for the day when he will have access to and a relationship with his other two children.

32 Long Term Success – Change in Attitude Christy Christy lost her parental rights three years previous to being referred to FTG. However, she still had not accepted her responsibility in the loss of her children. When Christy completed all ten classes, we really felt a bit defeated because we saw not even a speck of change in her attitude, even though she was making her payments each month. About six months after completing FTG, Christy was arrested for possession (which, again, she did not take responsibility for and said the drugs belonged to her boyfriend). Christy was court ordered to a drug recovery program. About six months after starting her drug recovery program, Christy stopped by a FTG class meeting. She said that she had to stop by to tell us how much better she was doing in her life and to say thank you. She indicated that for the first time in a very long time she was happy, had a sense of peace and contentment, and acceptance of herself. She also stated that the only reason she was able to be in the place she was and accept the help she was receiving in her drug recovery program was because of the seeds FTG planted in her through FTG classes.

33 “It’s All About Your Child” Informational video created by Fill the Gap Program It’s All About Your Child provides custodial and non- custodial parents information on the important role both parents play in the healthy well-being of their children. It also encourages non-custodial parents to stay current with their child support payments and get help immediately if they run into problems. Available on line at:

34 Want more information? Contact us: Rev. Ernest and Cheryl Breaux, Fill the Gap Program or Hon. Leonora Estes, Hearing Officer, 21 st Judicial District Court Ms. Joette Chavers, Supervisor, Amite Region Support Enforcement Services


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