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Lessons From Four Projects Dealing with Incarceration and Child Support

NCJ Number
Corrections Today Volume: 67 Issue: 4 Dated: July 2005 Pages: 92-95,102
Jessica Pearson; Esther Ann Griswold
Date Published
July 2005
5 pages
This article discusses lessons learned from four States and their attempts to address the problem of inmates leaving prison with substantial child support obligations, thereby placing financial burdens and jeopardizing successful reintegration.
With Federal support, the States of Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Texas conducted projects in an attempt to address the problem of inmates released from prison with significant child support obligations and the tremendous financial burden placed on the released inmate with the potential for jeopardizing their successful reintegration. The four projects provided inmates with general information about child support, case-specific information and actions, especially those aimed at preventing the accumulation of unpayable arrears, and help with parenting, family reintegration, and employment. Based on evaluations of the projects conducted by the Center for Policy Research, this article presents lessons learned from the four projects dealing with incarceration and child support. While the projects showed impressive results, employment, child support, and criminal justice agencies need to consider taking steps to improve outcomes even further. The article discusses steps towards improving project outcomes. The projects described provide a critical contribution to the growing field of reentry programs and services. The projects demonstrate several models for using child support as a springboard to encourage offenders/parents to develop their parenting and relationship skills, to seek viable employment and training, and to accept their responsibilities as parents and members of society.