Grant award recognizes Georgia child support program as national leader in outreach efforts

October 31, 2016

ATLANTA – Due to its success in operating programs that support noncustodial parents in their efforts to comply with child support orders, Georgia’s Division of Child Support Services has been tasked by its federal partners to evaluate similar programs in other states.

The Office of Child Support Enforcement in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families awarded Georgia with a grant of up to $2.6 million to evaluate other states’ efforts to increase child support collections and minimize the need to use punitive enforcement actions, such as contempt.

The grant, called the Procedural Justice Informed Alternatives to Contempt (PJAC), encourages child support programs across the country to develop programs that serve as an alternative to incarceration, increase voluntary compliance with child support orders and improve parents’ trust in the fairness of the process.

Georgia is a leader nationwide in programs that seek to support noncustodial parents as they work to support their children. Georgia has the only statewide Fatherhood program in the country, which helps unemployed or underemployed parents find jobs above minimum wage so they can provide financial support to their children, and has continued to work with judges and the legislature to establish and expand an accountability court program for parents who are subject to contempt actions for chronic nonpayment of child support.

“We have known for quite some time that Georgia was ahead of the curve in efforts to help noncustodial parents remove barriers to supporting their children,” said Robyn A. Crittenden, commissioner of the Department of Human Services. “I am proud of our child support team for their tireless efforts to support parents so that they can support their children to build stronger families for a stronger Georgia.”

The Division of Child Support Services offers two programs to parents who are struggling to pay their child support to help them obtain jobs paying above minimum wage, support their children and avoid incarceration, the Fatherhood program and the Parental Accountability Court program.

Through the PJAC grant, Georgia will oversee similar efforts in six states to minimize the need for sanctions against noncustodial parents while increasing voluntary child support payments. Georgia will receive $900,000 for the first year of evaluations and up to $2.6 million over the next four years.

About the Fatherhood program:
The Division’s Fatherhood program targets parents who are unemployed or underemployed and are, as a result, unable to pay their full child support obligations. The program connects parents with resources leading to jobs that pay above minimum wage, greater self-sufficiency and more emotional, parental and financial involvement in the lives of their children. Georgia has the only statewide program in the country.

About the Parental Accountability Court program:
The Division’s Parental Accountability Court (PAC) program is a joint effort with the Department and Superior Court Judges to offer an alternative to incarceration and to help chronic non-payers of child support make regular payments. The program utilizes community resources to address barriers that keep parents from meeting their support obligations, including literacy training, job assistance, mental health services and substance abuse treatment. Superior court judges provide judicial oversight and collaborate with PAC coordinators to implement the program. To graduate, participants must meet their child support obligations for a minimum of six consecutive months.

For more information on Georgia’s child support program or the Fatherhood or Parental Accountability Court program, visit dcss.dhs.ga.gov.