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Program that helps deadbeats could be implemented elsewhere

Posted December 11, 2008

— A program that helps parents in Wake County is running out of money. It is a unique pairing of drug treatment and child support that could soon be implemented in courtrooms across the U.S.

Judge Kristin Ruth presides over child support court and said many parents who don't pay are substance abusers.

"The problem solving court concept is to find remedies for non-custodian parents who are not able to financially support their children,” Ruth said.

With a grant from the Wake County Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, Ruth was able to offer substance abuse treatment to parents at no cost.

"When I went before Judge Ruth, she said, 'Do you need help?' I said, 'Yes I do,'” Rodney Jones said.

Ruth put Jones into Louis Murray's treatment class with money from the federal grant.

"It has helped me get focused. You learn how to live life like you are supposed to on a path and have goals in your life. We lose sight of that, I guess,” Jones said.

Ruth invited other judges from around the country to the court's last session Thursday. They saw the laughter, the tears of success, and could soon replicate the program elsewhere.

"They start paying taxes and they start paying pay back. Not only do you have to keep from sending them to jail, but they actually become taxpayers,” Judge Steve Philo, with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, said of the program.

Most importantly, Ruth says, the parents get their lives back on track.

"It's all about the kids. I have mine now so I've come a long ways. I didn't have them before but I have them now because I am clean and sober,” Jones said.

Many of the men, already in the treatment program, say they will continue to attend meetings on their own.

Ruth says, despite of the loss of federal money, she will continue to help troubled parents find work instead of sentencing them to jail.

Ruth's program has helped 120 people over the two years she had the federal grant money.  She says about 40 percent more child support payments were made as a result.


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  • krankyroo Dec 12, 2008

    Give me a break!! This program has not been a success and has actually taken up precious time in the courtroom that could have been used MUCH more effectively!! It does not sit well with me that this particular judge has made the courtroom a joke. It is not appropriate for a judge to joke and carry-on with persons who are in the courtroom for not supporting their children. Congratulations...You are paying for your child!! It is quite sad when a non-custodial parent gets on an elevator after going before this judge and is saying "I knew I didn't have to bring any money today. She's an easy judge." Quit trying to implement programs that do little to help the children. The resources could be better used elsewhere!! Let's get back to the real issue in courtroom 9-D...CHILD SUPPORT!!

  • freddie cadetti 72 Dec 12, 2008

    I saw this news release on WRAL. An officer of the court clapping, crying, etc. over her program seems out of bounds. What is she doing about deadbeat parents who have jobs but refuse to pay child support? She needs to get tough.

  • woodrowboyd2 Dec 11, 2008

    you can feel goverment takeing over your life and your rights away with each story being printted.
    seems that the walstreet bailout has invited big brother to intrude into our daily lives

  • affirmativediversity Dec 11, 2008

    Mitch I'm with you when it comes to the Detroit 3. I could spit nails at the thought that Rep Price voted for it.

    I am equally opposed to Judges using their bench to do "social engineering"!!!! This is a "child support" or "family" court. I'd hate to see ANY of the emphasis taken away from the children. It would have to be a pretty darned impressive record of success to sway me.

  • Mitch Dec 11, 2008

    I am skeptical of goverment programs but I believe this is a much better use of taxpayer funds than say a bailout for the big 3 in Detroit. I've also been in this Court (not as a Defendant) and Judge Ruth does excellent work with these folks.

  • affirmativediversity Dec 11, 2008

    hmmmm...how much did this program cost over the two years? hmmmm, this would be important info for me to know before I judged if it was a good investment.

    If it cost say more than a million dollars over 2 years and only help 120 people I would NOT consider it a good value and would rather see the money go directly into a trust fund for children.

    If it cost equal or just a little more than the support owed and the parents actually did get their act together to improve the living standard of their children, then it would be a great value.