Child Support Enforcement (CSE)
PRIDE stands for the Parental Responsibility Initiative for the Development of Employment.
PRIDE began as a pilot project in Dickinson. The pilot project was referred to as PEPP, which stood for the Parental Employment Pilot Project. The first referral was in April 2005. The basic idea was to create a formal process in which non-custodial parents who appear before the court for a contempt hearing and are unemployed or underemployed may be referred to Job Service and be required to comply with an employment plan. Prior to this pilot, referrals to Job Service were informal.
A diverse group was involved in designing the pilot:
- State and regional Child Support Enforcement staff
- The judge who works with child support cases
- Court staff
- State and local Job Service staff
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) (funding)
A planning group discussed the need for the pilot and the basic structure. Then local Child Support Enforcement and Job Service staff developed the actual process. They agreed that the Child Support Enforcement attorney, who attends contempt of court hearings, would send a referral form to a specified case worker at the local Job Service office. Staff from Child Support Enforcement and Job Service drafted a referral form. At the hearing, the judge orders the non-custodial parent to participate in the employment project which includes the development of, and compliance with, an employment plan. A copy of the referral form is given to the non-custodial parent, the Child Support Enforcement attorney, and e-mailed to the Job Service case worker. The Job Service case worker often attends contempt hearings, so is aware of which non-custodial parents will be required to make contact.
The non-custodial parent has seven days to get in contact with the Job Service case worker to arrange an intake meeting and develop a concrete employment plan. If he or she does not, the Job Service case worker will try to make contact. At that point, and at the point of any subsequent noncompliance with the employment plan, the Job Service case worker notifies Child Support Enforcement, the case is referred back to the court, and a contempt hearing is scheduled (usually to be held within two weeks).
The pilot was, and is being, evaluated. An evaluation tool for the pilot has been developed and includes tracking number of referrals, number of noncompliant non-custodial parents, number of non-custodial parents placed into employment, average wage, average increase in child support payments, as well as the costs of support services.
The pilot project increased the average child support payment made by participants from $63.80 per month at the time of referral to $202.94 per month six months afterwards. The non-payment rate also declined to 13%.
Due to the success of the pilot, a very similar employment program process was implemented in the Grand Forks area in January 2006. This program is funded by Workforce Investment Act (WIA) funds, rather than TANF funds.