New DHS program aimed at helping parents make child support payments

By Daniel Lapham
Published on August 30, 2008

A program operated by the state Department of Human Services has been successful in other parts of the state and now will be used to assist Canadian County children.

“This is new for the Canadian County area,” said Mike Smith, OKDHS child support specialist and court liaison. “It has been used in Oklahoma County for two years. It has been successful there so we started it in other counties.”

The program was launched here in June, and Smith said he is working with approximately 12 non-custodial parents.

Smith’s job is to network with businesses across Canadian County, helping to land jobs for the non-custodial parents so they can pay their court-ordered child support payments.

“I talk to businesses and employers that have well-paying jobs and get non-custodial parents jobs,” Smith said. “I get with the parents and find out why they are not paying child support and help them resolve those barriers. The No. 1 barrier is not having a job. I can’t get them the job but I can help them with leads so they can get jobs.”

Other barriers Smith said he can help with are transportation, addiction to alcohol and drugs, disabilities and a lack of education or job-related skills.

“Transportation is the most difficult, because out here in western Oklahoma there is no transportation system,” Smith said.

Although his primary goal “is to get the non-custodial parent to start paying child support,” Smith said he sees the benefits to the overall economic development of the community.
“I want to be a resource for employers,” he said.
“I want to be available to help employers meet a certain skill set that they are looking for. We have a network throughout the state and if I do not have someone, then I can send an e-mail to the other offices in the state.”

Employers who are interested can call the employers hotline at 1-866-553-2368.

The bottom line is to help youth get the chance they deserve, Smith said.
“This program is really about the children,” he said. “I mean, yes,we are helping the parent, but in the end it is the child that benefits.”

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