UPNEXT participants often face many obstacles on their path to becoming great parents and employees. One of their most prevailing setbacks is outstanding child support obligations. Fathers that are indebted to child support often find themselves working unstable, off-the-books jobs – all in attempt to manage their child support. However, these means of earning a living can lead to dead ends, lack of opportunities for advancement, and long-term financial insecurity.
Managing child support can be a perplexing and frustrating process, leaving some well-intentioned fathers desperate to meet obligations and unable to forge a path out of poverty for themselves and those who rely on them for support. UPNEXT recognizes the difficulty of child support management and has developed a comprehensive method to overcome any barriers that arise. First, we investigate the amount owed and to whom. Then we host an informative workshop that addresses the mechanics behind New York’s child support system. At the end of each workshop, we give UPNEXT participants time for questions that allow for increased understanding of how child support works. Program staff then meet with each participant individually to discuss his individual case and the next steps. Lastly, we join participants on a trip to the Office of Child Support Enforcement Customer Service Center to take immediate steps to manage the support obligation. Upon completion of the trip, each participant has a plan for how their child support can be managed in a way that allows them to live and work while providing support to those relying on him.
Those who work with UPNEXT staff members to follow the plan see positive results. Mike, 36, reviewed his case at the OCSE Customer Service Center and found that nearly all of his arrears were eligible for forgiveness, allowing him to focus on his monthly obligation. Lincoln, 43, received a downward modification of his monthly obligation that more accurately reflected his current earnings. He is now working full-time and meeting his obligations. He reports that sorting things out on the financial side has also eased family tensions and he is seeing his son more. These are just two individuals who have benefited from UPNEXT’s comprehensive services to help our fathers. The program looks forward to continued collaboration with fathers and the Human Resource Administration’s Office of Child Support Enforcement to increase financial and emotional engagement between non-custodial parents and their families.