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Article Abstract

In 2010 the Center published an in-depth article, Alternative to incarceration for low-income non-custodial parents, in the Journal of Child and Family Social Work


Increasingly, low-income non-custodial parents in the USA, primarily fathers, are at risk of incarceration for failure to make child support payments, clogging the prison system, preventing already at-risk fathers from holding a job and removing them from relationships with their children. This paper examines an innovative program in one southeastern state that provides an alternative to incarceration for non-compliant parents, also allowing fathers an opportunity to find gainful employment; to learn valuable life skills; and to establish healthier relationships with their children. Data analysis from 3 years of program implementation suggests that low-income noncustodial fathers enrolled in the Alternative to Incarceration program have a much greater chance to fulfil their obligations, both as wage earners and as parents, when they are in a program that provides life skills, helps them find employment and provides other supports to help them improve their life situation rather than incarcerating them for non-payment of child support. Furthermore, this program represents a substantial cost savings to the state, as hundreds of fathers have remained outside of the prison system. To date, this alternative to incarceration is a promising solution to a previously intractable problem.

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