Centerstone Secures $9.7 Million to Launch New Program for Indiana Fathers – May 31, 2016
Funding will support the creation of a range of services to support 500 fathers in Bartholomew, Brown, Lawrence, Monroe, Morgan and Owen
Bloomington, IN – Centerstone, one of the nation’s largest nonprofit providers of behavioral healthcare, has been awarded a five-year, $9.7 million grant from the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) to implement a comprehensive evidence-based continuum of services to address the needs of fathers in six south-central Indiana counties.
Fatherhood engagement benefits children, individuals, and communities. Studies have shown a link between parental involvement and a decrease in negative behaviors in children. Children without involved fathers or who live apart from their fathers are twice as likely to drop out of school or abuse drugs and alcohol, more likely to become incarcerated, and three times more likely to live in poverty. The goal of the program is to help children by helping fathers and creating healthier environments.
Centerstone has identified barriers that prevent fathers from being involved in their children’s lives and will create a program to help fathers be better parents, partners, and providers. Recovery coaching, life skills training, and family wellness instruction will be provided to build interpersonal relationship skills and parenting skills. Employment coaching and individualized job development will be provided to increase economic mobility and help participants enter or reenter the job market in order to support their families. Centerstone will partner with community agencies and social services in a collaborative effort to support fathers and strengthen families.
“Research from places where fatherhood initiatives have been tried has shown important benefits for the child’s relationship with their father, and also a significant increase in child support payments,” said Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Gaal. “We look forward to working with Centerstone to support this important effort here in our own community.”
As part of this grant, Centerstone will target biological fathers, stepfathers, or expectant fathers in Bartholomew, Brown, Lawrence, Monroe, Morgan, and Owen counties. Special consideration will be given to fathers who are past or present members of the military, young fathers between the ages of 16 and 24, or at-risk fathers who are low-income, TANF-eligible, or involved with the criminal justice system.
“We have a passionate team of people with years of experience in these fields that have put months of hard work into creating the best program possible to help fathers and families grow and succeed,” said Richard Kosmala, Program Manager. “We are looking forward to putting that planning into practice and we appreciate the invaluable support of our community partners.”
Centerstone’s program for fathers will begin July 1, 2016. Those interested in participating may contact Lauryn Kramer-Raymond at (812) 318-7414 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Centerstone, a not-for-profit organization, has provided a wide range of mental health, substance abuse, education and integrated health services to Indiana residents for 60 years. Through more than 60 facilities in 17 Indiana counties, Centerstone serves approximately 25,000 children, adolescents, adults and seniors each year. It is accredited by CARF International. For more information about Centerstone, please call 800-344-8802 or visit www.centerstone.org.
Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement recognizes Monroe County community outreach efforts in its national newsletter – May 27, 2016
Referrals Help Indiana Parents Get Assistance
By Amy Colgan Clark, Supervising Deputy Prosecuting Attorney – Child Support, Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office, IN
Over the past several months, the Monroe County Child Support Program of the Monroe County (IN) Prosecutor’s Office has focused on building community partnerships to help remove barriers facing many non-custodial parents. We found that many of the non-custodial parents in our caseload were failing to pay their child support even though they wanted to provide for their children. They were legitimately unable to find work or had other barriers that prevented them from fulfilling their obligations.
To address these issues, we partnered with WorkOne, an Indiana agency that provides employment services, career counseling, education, and training to unemployed or underemployed individuals. The two offices signed a Memorandum of Understanding that allows us to refer unemployed non-custodial parents to WorkOne through the child support court.
As part of a court order, WorkOne caseworkers develop an employment plan with noncustodial parents. The plan might include adult education classes, specific skills training, resume building, application oversight, and more. If the non-custodial parent follows the plan and shows genuine efforts to find a job, the State agrees to defer pursuing traditional judicial sanctions. Because of this, parents can avoid jail time as they look for work.
The child support office is also partnering with Centerstone, one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit providers of community-based behavioral health care. Similar to our agreement with WorkOne, we can refer non-custodial parents to Centerstone to address mental health and addiction issues. As long as the participant complies with the treatment plan and directives of Centerstone, the State does not pursue traditional judicial sanctions.
These programs help us partner with community-based organizations to achieve positive outcomes for Monroe County families. We are already seeing encouraging signs that our partnerships are creating opportunities for employment and improving parent well-being. And no one can possibly argue against the fact that spending time with their child instead of being in jail promotes a better situation for both parents and children.
Child Support Wins Award for Outreach Efforts – October 21, 2015
The Monroe County Child Support Program just received an award for “Outstanding Outreach Efforts” from the Child Support Bureau at the Indiana Department of Child Services. Congratulations to staff who have supported new partnerships to better serve the community.
Open House Highlights Re-invention Of Monroe County Child Support Program – October 13, 2015
OPEN HOUSE HIGHLIGHTS RE-INVENTION OF MONROE COUNTY CHILD SUPPORT PROGRAM
Bloomington, Indiana – This has been a year of transition in Monroe County’s Child Support Program – a part of the Prosecutor’s Office. In addition to a new supervising deputy prosecutor and a new executive director, the child support office itself moved from One City Center to the county-owned Curry Building.
On Tuesday Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Gaal hosted an open house to provide the public an opportunity to see the facility, and also to announce new community partnerships that will expand services.
For several months, the Prosecutor’s Office has been actively meeting with a broad range of local stakeholders to re-think the traditional approach to child support collection and explore new ideas for re-inventing the program.
“We want to supplement the traditional methods of child support enforcement with creative new approaches,” Gaal told stakeholders at a recent meeting to solicit their input.
Traditionally, the legal system pits the parent with custody of a child against the “non-custodial parent” in an adversarial process in order to obtain or enforce a court order to pay child support. This approach is often necessary when a non-custodial parent fails to take responsibility for their child, unfairly leaving the custodial parent with the entire financial burden of raising the child.
However, the traditional approach sometimes proves ineffective when it runs into barriers that are not easily addressed through the legal system. For instance, where a non-custodial parent does not have a job, or does not have the education, training or skills to get a job; or where a non-custodial parent is dealing with a serious drug addiction or mental health problem that in effect makes them unemployable.
“In those instances the traditional approach often fails, and we will not be able to collect support,” says Amy Colgan Clark, the new supervising deputy in child support. “These are situations where we want to think outside the box and try something new.”
The Prosecutor’s Office has been paying close attention to innovations from other jurisdictions around the country. These ideas supplement traditional enforcement with a more community-based and family-centered approach to pursue the payment of child support in difficult cases.
“We are ready to put new options on the table in Monroe County,” says Gaal. “Engaging local community resources can allow us to offer more carrots alongside the traditional sticks.”
“What we hope to achieve, and what the research indicates, is that approaches that involve the community can actually lead to an increase in collections in many of those difficult cases where the traditional approach fails and is not effective,” adds Colgan Clark.
In addition, the traditional adversarial approach may set up or magnify negative confrontations between parents that undermine the best interests of the child. In many situations the use of mediation can lead to an improvement in the family dynamics between the custodial and non-custodial parents that actually enhance the best interests of the child. If parents avoid putting the child in the middle of emotional conflict over issues such as support and visitation, that can contribute to a more stable environment and better life for the child. These intangible benefits are less easily measured, but are also valuable to the community.
Outreach efforts began in March when the Prosecutor’s Office invited representatives from various stakeholder groups in the community to discuss possible collaborations. Since that meeting, the office has formalized agreements to refer appropriate cases to Work One for job training and employment assistance, and Centerstone for mental health and addictions treatment. The Prosecutor’s Office will then defer imposing sanctions on the condition that participants comply with the program requirements which become a court order approved by the judge. The Prosecutor’s Office will monitor compliance to ensure that participants are taking advantage of services offered through the program, and can resume traditional enforcement methods if they fail to comply.
“We are excited about the opportunity to provide needed employment services to people referred from child support under this new partnership,” said Richard Rampley, Operations Director at Work One.
“This new approach has great potential to benefit not only the participants with job skills and training, but also children in our community who depend on their financial support,” said Bret Raper, the IV-D Court Commissioner who oversees the child support cases for the Monroe Circuit Court.
“Working with child support cases is a natural extension of the justice system partnerships we have already created through the Mental Health and Drug problem-solving courts,” said Linda Grove Paul, Vice President for Recovery and Innovation at Centerstone.
Following remarks by representatives from the Prosecutor’s Office, the Child Support Court, Work One, and Centerstone, the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce provided a ribbon cutting ceremony and members of the public were offered a tour of the new facility.
Prosecutor’s Child Support Office Goes Paperless – August 17, 2010
For Immediate Release
August 17, 2010
Contact: Chris Gaal, Office of the Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney, 349-2670
PROSECUTOR’S CHILD SUPPORT OFFICE GOES PAPERLESS
Bloomington, IN – Imagine over half a million sheets of paper lined up on the ground stretching from the Justice Building in Bloomington all the way to Monument Circle in Indianapolis and then back again. That’s how many sheets of paper the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office Child Support Division will scan into its computer system when it converts to a paperless office. Freed from the burden of stacks of files, the Prosecutor’s Office anticipates increased efficiency, cost-savings, and improved security resulting from the move.
“When you talk to other prosecutors around the country, it is clear that paperless files are the wave of the future,” says Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Gaal. “Electronic case files in Child Support will provide valuable experience as a pilot project that we can eventually use in the main office with our criminal case files.”
County Council President Geoff McKim welcomes the project, “This is the first department in the county to implement a comprehensive paperless initiative. We hope that other county departments who want to go paperless in the future can also benefit from what we learn here.”
“The other great thing about starting this in child support is that it will not require local tax dollars from the county general fund,” adds McKim.
The paperless project will cost an estimated $123,000 for computer hardware, software, file preparation, and scanning. But the project will be paid for by federal money awarded to the prosecutor’s office as an incentive based on performance measures such as the amount of child support collected and effectiveness of the office. The State of Indiana will also reimburse two-thirds of the incentive money spent by the child support division, reducing the cost to about $40,590.
Gaal expects increased efficiency resulting from the move to electronic files. “We estimate that about thirty percent of a caseworker’s time is spent either looking for a file or putting paperwork in the files,” says Gaal. “Electronic files reduce the time required to process cases, and several people can have access to the file and do work at the same time, instead of waiting for paper to move from stack to stack.”
Going paperless also means clearing up the clutter currently choking the office. The prosecutor’s office will scan about 640,000 pages into the computer system over the next several months – enough to stack as high as a twenty-one story building. In addition to potential storage cost savings, the office hopes to cut down expenses such as printers, copy paper, paper files, labels and other standard office equipment.
Electronic files also provide for extra security in the event of a disaster. This nightmare scenario occurred when a flood destroyed hundreds of files at the Johnson County Prosecutor’s Office in June 2008, when fire devastated the Jefferson County Courthouse in 2009, and a Christmas Eve fire at the United Way in Bartholomew County in 2009. Child Support electronic case files will be automatically backed-up for secure data storage in the event such a disaster should strike home in Monroe County.
The Prosecutor’s office has received equipment and will begin scanning files for the conversion this month. The process will take several months.