In May of this year Delta County Child Support Services joined with 10 other Colorado counties in a pilot program called 2GenTransformation Project, part of a research study underway at University of Denver.
The Colorado Office of Economic Security, Division of Child Support Services, describes the pilot program as "enhancing the lives of families by providing connections to services and support that benefit all members of the family."
In Delta County Albert Martinez is administrator of 2Gen and Jeana Hughes is the legal technician for the program.
One of the difficult problems in Child Support Services is getting the non-custodial parent to make child support payments. There is sometimes an adversarial relationship between the two parents on this matter, and the child is impacted by that relationship.
The 2Gen (2 generations) program is designed to help resolve these problems by working with the non-custodial party to identify barriers to the child support payments being made.
Martinez said, "In Delta County our projected participation was a target group of 20 families, with 10 families choosing to participate in 2Gen. Delta County now has 26 total cases in the target group with 14 cases participating in 2Gen.
"Delta was the first county to meet the projected goal, and we have been recognized statewide."
Meeting the goal happened in August, which Martinez said is National Child Support Awareness Month.
Participation is voluntary. Martinez and Hughes added that all the families went through a family resources assessment process before being accepted in the 2Gen program.
They noted that 2Gen seeks to improve the collective family and help it be more self-reliant.
Hughes says non-custodial parties fall into four categories: willing and able to pay; unwilling but able to pay; unwilling and unable to pay; and willing but unable to pay.
In the 2Gen program Martinez and Hughes can call on institutions, groups and individuals to help parties reach the point of being able to make their child support payments. There is also a small fund from which they can draw to help the non-custodial party resolve a problem.
Martinez spoke of a recent such case. The only source of transportation a non-custodial parent had to get to his job was his bicycle, and the tires on his bicycle were flat. 2Gen paid for new tubes and tires for his bicycle, and he is now back riding it to work.
For those who cannot prepare a resume to use in applying for a job, Julie Cassidy from Bridges, a private work force management office, will help the person put into writing their qualifications, skills and experience. She also functions as a job coach and gives interview tips.
Sometimes it is clothing that prevents the applicant from being job ready. When that feedback gets to Hughes, she contacts one of several sources from which she can obtain professional dress, work clothing, work boots, shoes and such.
There are cases where the party's driver's license has been revoked because of non-payment of child support. If that is the only reason for the revocation, 2Gen can provide the motor vehicle registration department with a "notice of compliance," which will get the driver back in their car for work, as long as they pay their child support payments.
2Gen can arrange counseling for people with mental health or other problems. 2Gen can provide guidance for a party to enter the GED program. For someone without the necessary self-confidence to be referred to a employer for a job, that person can be referred to the GED program or counseling.
In some cases the non-custodial party has a criminal background. Martinez said there are local employers who are "felon friendly," and a party with this situation will be referred to one of those employers. If the employer is concerned about a prospective employee who has theft charges in their background, there is a federal bonding program through the Work Force Center which enables the employee to secure a bond.
There are circumstances when a party is eligible for their charges to be sealed. Annie Trujillo, self-representative litigant coordinator with the 7th Judicial Court, is available to help the party with the filing for this procedure.
Trujillo also assists with filing other pro se orders, such as domestic relations, child support, orders regarding parenting time, and domestic relations orders. Trujillo spends two days a week in Delta and three days in Montrose.
Hughes pointed out that Delta County Child Support Services is open to custodial parties from several circumstances: when partners separate; a grandparent; a child who has only one parent; a family with an absent parent; a caretaker. Determining paternity can also be part of the services.
The 2Gen pilot program will run through the end of 2018. When the results of the University of Denver study are available, Martinez and Hughes said Colorado may shift toward the 2Gen approach for child support services.
Two of the four marijuana questions on the November ballot were narrowly approved by voters in the City of Delta. Measure 2F allows the establishment of medical marijuana centers. Measure 2H permits the establishment of medical marijuana cultivation, testing, research and manufacturing facilities.