Three fathers graduated from the Cobb County Parental Accountability Court after getting back on track with their child support payments.
The Parental Accountability Court is one of four accountability courts in Cobb County, which also include the Drug Treatment Court, with its regular and intermediate tracks, Veterans Accountability and Treatment Court, and the Mental Health Court.
The purpose of the accountability court program is to provide an alternative to incarceration for individuals who need counseling and treatment rather than punishment.
The Parental Accountability Court is presided over by Superior Court Judge Ann B. Harris and is referred to by its acronym PAC.
According to the press release announcing the graduation:
The court aims to help chronic non-payers overcome barriers that are keeping them from financially supporting their children. PAC connects individuals with community partners offering literacy and education, job assessment and placement, substance abuse treatment, and other support.
“We work to help them overcome,” Judge Harris said. “We aim for financially secure children supported by financially secure parents.”
Candice L. Broce is Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Human Services, which includes the Division of Child Support Services (DCSS).
“This accomplishment is a renewed commitment to your children, demonstrating your desire to be present in their lives,” Commissioner Broce said. “We are very proud of you.”
David, Arthur and Daryl, the three fathers who graduated on Wednesday, each spoke about the changes they’ve made to get to graduation and more importantly, establish stronger ties with their children. Graduation requirements include making full, on-time payments for six consecutive months.
“It wasn’t always a comfortable experience,” Daryl said. “But it’s worth it for my son.”
“Anything that is worth doing takes commitment,” Gov. Kemp said in a video shown at the graduation. “Because of what you have achieved in the Parental Accountability Court program, your children’s future looks much brighter.”
The press release from Cobb County Superior Court gave the following information about the purpose and impact of the program:
Parents can be found in contempt of court and jailed for nonpayment of child support. But jailing a parent doesn’t deliver any financial support for the children and usually exacerbates the family’s situation.
Since its creation in 2017, Cobb’s PAC has had 77 participants and collected $472,000 in child support for 194 children. There are 43 PACs around the state.
Program partners include Kim Biggs, Kim Van Alstine and Liberty Richards from DCSS; Amelia Pray of the Cobb District Attorney’s Office; Sherrod Jones of Cobb Work Source Georgia; Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation; the Cobb-Douglas Community Services Board; and the Cobb Sheriff’s Office.