July 8, 2014

South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families to participate in child support study

The South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families will be part of a multi-year study with the South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) that could revolutionize the way child support is handled across the country.

South Carolina is one of eight states awarded a federal grant to test the extent to which targeted employment intervention with parents who have child support obligations can achieve positive results. The idea behind the study is to remove barriers to non-custodial parents paying their child-support, rather than punishing them for failing to do so.

“We're going to give our noncustodial parents who have fallen behind in their child support payments every opportunity to get back and stay on track,” said Gary Gamble, project manager for South Carolina's Child Support Non-custodial Parent Employment Demonstration Program (CSPED).

Operation Work, as the CSPED program is being called in South Carolina, will enlist 1,500 non-custodial parents in three counties for the study under the $2 million, five-year grant. Parents participating in the program must be over 18, live in one of the three counties, and be unemployed or underemployed. 

The South Carolina Department of Social Services’ Integrated Child Support Services Division will provide enhanced intervention services by assigning a caseworker to help guide the parents through the program. The parents will also be referred to the South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families, which is the DSS’ non-profit partner in the study.

The center will work with the parents to help them overcome barriers to their ability to support their families. Participants will experience a one-week intensive Job Readiness Boot Camp, and be enrolled in weekly group sessions addressing economic stability, parenting and healthy relationships. 

The parents will receive training in the skills necessary to find employment, including resume preparation and job interviewing, placement and retention, as well as peer support and education in how to be better parents. The parents, most of them fathers, will be encouraged to re-engage with their families, and learn how to do so in a positive way. 

The South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System.

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