Few Colorado parents who are charged with supporting their families can do so without a job. Unfortunately this is the situation many noncustodial parents are in when they lose a job and are still required to make monthly child support payments.

According to a recent report, about one-third of Colorado parents with child support obligations now fail to make regular payments - if they can make them at all. Approximately 32,000 parents per month now fail to cover the daily expenses of 39,000 children in Colorado. If those noncustodial parents were making regular payments, an additional $10 million would be collected every month, possibly lifting many of the affected families above the poverty level.

For many noncustodial parents required to make support payments, the issue is not whether or not they want to make them but whether or not they are able to. Some are unemployed and some are homeless because of the national and state economies. Unfortunately, when child support is unpaid, families with children often must depend on government aid.

To address the problem, the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement created a pilot program involving eight states. Now five Colorado counties are participating in the Colorado Parent Employment Project to help parents with employment training and job searches. If the program is successful and participants become employed, it could increase overall child support collections. It could also help parents become more involved in their children's lives and potentially resolve related family legal issues.

COPEP has been running for two years. In addition to job searches and employment training, the program helps parents with child support modification, fatherhood programs and parenting classes. The Colorado child-support program thus not only may help increase the overall child-support collection effort but also help parents become financially solvent and better parents.

Source: The Durango Herald, "Program helps with child support", Julia C. Martinez, Jan. 3, 2015