The Starke County Prosecutor’s Office has entered into a partnership with the local WorkOne office to help non-custodial parents find jobs. Prosecutor Nicholas Bourff says a new program offered through WorkOne helps unemployed parents build job skills, get their GED, build up their resumes, learn interviewing techniques and other skills necessary to compete in the job market.
“They’ve gone so far with a couple of the men we’ve put through this program to tell them to cut their hair and shave their beards,” Bourff said.
In the past non-custodial parents without jobs either had to find a way to pay child support each week or turn in job search forms to his office.
“Unfortunately some people have learned ways to work that system. This is trying to take it a step further and help them not only find a job but also build their resources and build the confidence in them to land a job,” Bourff said.
Non-custodial parents can be held in contempt of court for non-payment of child support and can be sent to jail. Bourff says nobody wins when that happens. He adds the goal of his office is to make sure children are taken care of by enforcing the child support order.
Starke County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Mary Ryan estimates between 35 and 40 percent of local non-custodial parents are in arrears on their support payments. She adds officials at the local WorkOne office will assist people in the program until they are gainfully employed. WorkOne officials also provide progress reports to the prosecutor’s office to ensure participants are keeping their appointments and following the guidelines set out.