FORT WAYNE – Local court officials have collaborated with a state employment organization to provide training and help find jobs for parents who are unemployed and struggling to meet child support obligations.
Allen Circuit Court Judge Thomas Felts 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 Courts IV-D Court.
The court oversees child support that has been required as a result of paternity-establishment cases filed by the prosecutor.
The program will direct parents who cite unemployment as the reason they are not current with child support payments to services that can help them find work, according to a statement issued by the court Friday.
The primary goal of increasing child support collection can be better achieved when parents are employed, said Magistrate Andrea Trevino, the judicial officer responsible for oversight of the IV-D Court.
The anticipated result is that those parents will benefit from WorkOne services and have a better chance at becoming employed.
When child support payments become delinquent, the court conducts compliance hearings to determine whether the parent who has been ordered to pay support has violated the order. If the court finds the parent in contempt, jail time can be ordered.
The jobs program started in November, when a WorkOne representative was stationed next door to the courtroom and worked with parents whom Trevino said would benefit from WorkOne services.
If a parent does not take advantage of the program, fails to complete it or fails to become employed in the given time, he or she could face jail time.
Referred parents go through an orientation and must attend a series of workshops before their next court date.
If parents do not have a high school diploma or GED, WorkOne will collaborate with Anthis Career Center to help them earn one, and make referrals for vocational rehabilitation services when appropriate.
All WorkOne services and workshops are free of charge to the participating parents.
Since the collaboration began four weeks ago, Trevino has referred more than 40 parents to WorkOne for employment services, education services or vocational rehabilitation services.