State expands program helping parents find jobsBISMARCK — A state program that helps parents get jobs so they can keep up with their court-ordered child support payments is expanding into Fargo, Bismarck and Minot regions.
By: Janell Cole, N.D. Capitol Bureau
BISMARCK — A state program that helps parents get jobs so they can keep up with their court-ordered child support payments is expanding into Fargo, Bismarck and Minot regions.
Begun in 2005, the program known as PRIDE was first offered in Dickinson and then expanded to Grand Forks and Grafton in 2006. The national Council of State Governments and federal child support enforcement officials have recognized the program with awards for innovation.
Mike Schwindt, state child support director, said that of 127 parents referred to the program, 119 found jobs, many within two months of referral.
PRIDE stands for “parental responsibility initiative for the development of employment” and helps non-custodial parents find jobs or better-paying jobs.
The program involves cooperation by Job Service North Dakota, district courts and the state Department of Human Services.
Courts refer non-paying parents to a Job Service caseworker for assistance in job searching, training and placement. If the caseworkers find “barriers to employment” such as substance abuse, mental health problems or vocational rehabilitation needs, the parent may get referred for help with those issues, too.
Parents do not have to be court-ordered to use the program. They can voluntarily participate.
Schwindt said the program also increases visitation time, reduces time in court and cuts down on families’ use of public assistance such as food stamps, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families and Medicaid.
Janell Cole works for Forum Communications Co., which owns The Dickinson Press.