Statement as issued Tuesday by Allen Circuit Court:
Judge Thomas Felts of the Allen Circuit Court and Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards are collaborating with WorkOne of Northeast Indiana to provide re-employment services to parents who are subject to child support collection actions through Circuit Court’s IV-D Court. The plan is to direct parents who cite unemployment as the reason they are not compliant with their child support obligations to services that can assist them in obtaining employment.
The IV-D Court orders and oversees child support that has been established as a result of paternity-establishment cases filed by the prosecutor. When child support payments become delinquent, the court conducts compliance hearings to determine if the parent ordered to pay support has violated the order. If the court finds the parent in contempt, jail time can be ordered. Magistrate Andrea R. Trevino, the judicial officer responsible for oversight of the IV-D Court, states, “The primary goal of increasing child support collection can be better achieved when parents are employed. The anticipated result is that those parents will benefit from WorkOne services and have a better chance at becoming employed.”
Since the program started in late November, 2013, a WorkOne representative is stationed next door to the IV-D courtroom and is equipped with computer access to the WorkOne workshop scheduling database. As Magistrate Trevino progresses through the IV-D compliance calendar, she identifies those parents she believes can benefit from WorkOne services and sends them next door immediately after their hearing. Magistrate Trevino explains to the parent that if they do not take advantage of the program, fail to complete the program, or fail to become employed in the given timeframe, ultimately leading to payment of support, the parent could face jail time.
In the meeting the WorkOne Representative gives the parent an orientation to WorkOne services and enrolls the parent in the number of workshops. The parent leaves the meeting with the schedule of their assigned workshops in hand and with the understanding that they are expected to attend the assigned workshops before their next court date. Additionally, if the parent does not have a high school diploma or GED, WorkOne will collaborate with Anthis Career Center to facilitate completion of the education component. WorkOne can also make referrals for vocational rehabilitation services when appropriate. All of the WorkOne services and workshops are free of charge to the participating parent.
Since the collaboration began four weeks ago, Magistrate Trevino has referred over 40 parents to WorkOne for employment services, education services, and/or vocational rehabilitation services.