Agencies Launch Noncustodial Parent-To-Work Project In Dickinson Region
January 28, 2005
Bismarck, N.D. - The North Dakota Department of Human Services and Job Service North Dakota are working together on a pilot project to provide employment-related services to noncustodial parents in the Dickinson region who are behind in their child support obligations. The project is intended to help the parents obtain work and increase their incomes, so that they can support their children. If successful, it may be replicated in at least one other region of the state in 2005.
"This innovative project promotes parental responsibility," said Carol K. Olson, executive director of the Department of Human Services. "By addressing unemployment and underemployment of noncustodial parents, this project will help those parents earn the income they need to support themselves and meet their child support obligations. Ultimately, this will benefit not only the noncustodial parents, but also the many children who rely on public assistance to meet their basic needs when child support is not received."
According to the human services agency, which oversees both child support enforcement and public assistance programs, in 2004 over 72,000 children in North Dakota were owed child support. In the southwest region of the state, over 900 child support cases have outstanding balances, many in excess of $5,000.
Child support collections paid to families are at record levels, but North Dakota is also experiencing growth in the amount of uncollected support. Olson said collaborating with the state agency that handles employment services made sense. Job Service already provides employment-related services to custodial parents in low-income families who qualify for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. The pilot extends this service to noncustodial parents who are unemployed or underemployed. TANF funds in the human services budget are financing the project.
"Secure, regular employment is one of the best ways to help people become self-sufficient. Employment security leads to better family security, which helps both the parents and the children involved," said Maren L. Daley, Job Service North Dakota executive director.
The courts and child support enforcement officials will refer parents to Job Service, which will provide case management services including work assessments, job search assistance, training, job placement follow-up services, and referrals to Badlands Human Service Center if appropriate. Job Service will keep the courts and child support officials informed of participating noncustodial parents’ progress.
Mike Schwindt, Child Support Enforcement Division Director, DHS, 701- 328-3582; John Hougen, Economic Assistance Director, DHS, 701-328-1715; Gregory Wald, Communication and Marketing Manager, Job Service North Dakota, 701-328-2877; or Heather Steffl, Public Information Officer, DHS, 701-328-4933