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Wake County Puts Parents Who Owe Child Support Back To Work

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RALEIGH — Families trying to get by on one parent's income are getting some help from Wake County. A new program is putting parents who owe child support back to work, so they can own up to their responsibilities.

Over and over again, judges listen to a parade of parents who say they do not pay child support because they cannot find a job. A new program inWake Countyis designed to get these parents out of trouble and back to work.

Robert Oakley takes his role as a father very seriously these days. After years of drug abuse, spending time on the streets and in jail, he has a job at the Inter-faith Food Shuttle. Oakley got the job through Wake County's new "Working for Kids" program.

"This program helps you," Oakley says. "Instead of putting you in jail, it gives you another chance to correct your mistake. Everybody makes mistakes."

Many parents are ordered by a judge to take part in the program. Case Manager Jennifer Schneider goes to child support court to explain the program to new clients.

"A lot of them want to pay their child support," Schneider says. "They've just gotten a little lost along the way and need help getting back on the right track."

Those who oversee Oakley's work say he is definitely on the right track. "He does a wonderful job," says Food Shuttle Manager Liane Simpson. "We found him to be really helpful and assertive. He gets in there, gives a hand wherever it's needed."

After 8 to 10 weeks of work experience, Oakley will go through a culinary training program to prepare him for an even better job.