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The South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families

Jobs Not Jail

A major barrier to father-involvement among low-income men is incarceration due to non-payment of child support. These fathers are often seen as deadbeat when in fact they are dead broke. When they are incarcerated, they cannot work, pay child support, or parent their children. The Alternative to Incarceration Program offers Family Court judges a responsible and much less expensive alternative to sending those men to overcrowded detention centers.

Fathers who are behind in child support may be court-ordered to the fatherhood program for six months in lieu of incarceration. The Jobs Not Jail Alternative to Incarceration has experienced soaring success while saving tax payers.

Eligibility for the alternative to incarceration program is determined by examining the following criteria:

  • Low-income father
  • Father is 18 years or older and has children 18 years or younger
  • Work history indicates that during the period of missed child support payments he was either unemployed, underemployed, laid off, medically unable to work, had other extenuating circumstances which prevented the consistent payment of his child support
  • No current criminal charges pending
  • CDV history is consistent with domestic violence policy of center
  • Father was ordered by state agency or court or voluntarily entered into program prior to the court date for the Rule to Show Cause
  • Father is not actively engaged in illegal drug use
  • Indicates a desire to play an active role in the life of his child

Fathers who participate in a Fatherhood Program as an alternative to incarceration must consent to successfully comply with program requirements.

Program requirements for alternative to incarceration participants include:

  • Attend all weekly fatherhood peer support classes during the 24 week period;
  • Follow all fatherhood program recommendations related to securing livable wage employment including, attending GED classes if necessary, employment training and interviews, and related drug screens;
  • Pay consistently ongoing child support and arrearage during the 24 week period
  • Maintain a current home and work address and telephone numbers with both the Clerk of Court and the Fatherhood Program during the 24 week period.

If a low-income father is unemployed at the Rule to Show Cause hearing, the Fatherhood Program staff request that the father have 30 days to seek and secure employment and 45 days to make the first support payment.  Judges will often give consideration to extending the requirement for paying child support if the father is actively enrolled in a job training class that will provide him with skills to improve his opportunity for employment.