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Posted: January 23, 2014 5:25 p.m.

Problem Solving Court helps parents unable to pay child support

Submitted photo/

(Pictured left to right) Erica Atkins, DCSS Director of Training; Patricia Smith,DCSS State Operations Director; Kristi Stone, DCSS Director of Field Operations; Rockdale Chief Superior Court Judge David Irwin; Reed Kimbrough, DCSS Deputy Director...

In Georgia, most non-custodial parents pay their child support on time. But for the 40 percent that don't, Rockdale is trying a new accountability court program to help those parents learn how to better support their children, both financially and emotionally, and serve as a money-saving alternative to jail.

Lauren Altman, a PSC Coordinator in Rockdale County, explained that the 12-month program tries to remove the underlying issues that keep non-custodial parents from paying child support, such as substance abuse, mental health issues or barriers to finding employment. It provides an alternative to incarceration and helps non-custodial parents build stronger relationships with their children.

Judge Robert Mumford, who serves as the judge for the PSC, said "Our goal is to help children whose parents have separated by assisting the parents to obtain, improve and keep employment so that they can provide resources for their children and to prepare parents to improve the relationships with one another so that the children will have a positive influence from each parent. When both parents of a child are working together in the child's best interest taxpayer dollars are saved." 

Rockdale's Problem Solving court kicked off the first week of January with three parents who had been screened for eligibility to the program.

Through intense monitoring, judicial oversight and partnerships with community resources, the PSC helps non-custodial parents become self-sufficient adults.

PSC partnerships include the PSC coordinator; a judge – Rockdale Superior Court Judge Robert Mumford; the DCSS local office; a DCSS Attorney; service providers; and the administrative offices of the courts.

Pilot programs of the Problem Solving Court found parents who went through the program were able to pay thousands more in child support than those who were simply incarcerated. To date, the Department of Human Services estimates a savings of more than $4.7 million in reduced incarceration costs.

For more information, email Lauren Altman at leperry@dhr.state.ga.us 

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