“You can’t pay child support if you’re locked up.”
Willie Myles, statewide coordinator for corporate and community partnerships for Georgia Department of Human Services, made that statement on Tuesday as he explained how the state agency works to assist families.
During a presentation to the Seven Hills Rotary Club of Rome, Myles — as well as other service providers overseen by DHS — talked about local and state programs available to those in need.
Laura Lee, the regional child support services program director, said Floyd County has started a parental accountability court that targets chronic non-payers, many of whom have been in jail multiple times for failure to make support payments.
The court will have workers available to work one-on-one with the adult to “help them find work, help them find job skills, whatever barriers they may have.”
Floyd Superior Court Judge Kay Ann Wetherington will preside over the parental accountability court.
The child support recovery program served 5,487 children in Floyd County during FY 2018 — 4,288 are being served today.
A primary focus for the court’s programs is to help non-custodial parents find employment that would help them keep child support payments up-to-date.
“We want to make sure they are under the right (court) order and that they are paying the right amount,” Lee said.
Another promising number, said Lindsey Howerton, director of Floyd County’s Family and Children Services, is the number of children in foster care has declined. The all-time high of 443 children in foster care several years ago is down to 241 as of Tuesday.
Howerton said the number of foster homes in Rome remains low at 26, but said 18 more are in varying stages of being approved.
In addition, the food stamp program now offers expedited service to families and other programs offer specialized service to families in an effort to get skills and training to help people find jobs and get them off the SNAP program.
When looking at care for seniors, Lynn Reeves, the director of the Area Agency on Agency based at the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission office, said one of their basic tenets is to help people age gracefully in their own home. The agency provides more than 100 hot meals a day delivered to seniors in the Rome area from the senior center on Riverside Parkway.
She said the home-delivery program was not just a way to make sure seniors get food but to also “lay eyes on a person every day.”
Growing attention is being offered to the number of elderly with dementia-related issues. Virtually anyone in Georgia is less than 90 minutes away from a state-supported memory center, Myles said. He projected that by 2025, 190,000 Georgians will be living with dementia.
On a related note, Myles said that 60% of the full-time workforce in Georgia is taking care of another family member.