Created: Fri, 14 Feb 2014 04:02:00 EST
Updated: Fri, 14 Feb 2014 11:14:32 EST
Inside a Bibb County courtroom Friday, four men receive diplomas signifying their completion of a new program that helps people make child support payments.
Matthew Marshall, Antonio Parker, Mark Williams and Shawn Robinson stood side by side in court room A, while the crowd in the benches applauded.
They are the first graduates of Bibb County's Child Support Problem Solving Court.
One candidate, Shawn Robinson entered PSC last year after serving four months in the Bibb County LEC for not paying child support to his ex-wife.
Bibb County Superior Court Judge, Phil Raymond who's in charge of it, saw Robinson and others had potential but needed resources to succeed.
"By getting them out of Law Enforcement Center, getting them back to work, there's significant savings in incarceration costs," Raymond said.
The program wants to remove barriers that cause non-custodial parents to fail to pay child support. Through a coordinator, intense monitoring, judicial oversight and community partners the tools are given to help them succeed and find a job.
All participants must have an open child support services case and pending contempt order or contempt order to be considered. Selection is based on candidates who want to accept assistance provided and actively seek employment in the program.
"We want to target those who would give a chance like to pay their child support,” Problem Solving Court coordinator Steven Giglio said. “That's why the program was created."
There's no funding except for Giglio’s job as the coordinator paid by the Department of Human Services. Giglio connects the participants with sources including the Division of Child Support Services Office and attorney.
Since it started, there have been 49 people who've been accepted into it. Only 18 have not succeeded and 27 are still continuing the program.
The four men graduating say the program has helped them keep on track and pay their obligations.
"Being around the guys, they motivated me to continue coming to the program and I stayed focus at the job and determined I was going to knock this child support down and I did," graduate Mark Williams said.
After these men become employed and pay child support for six consecutive months, they may graduate which shows they are now responsible and can meet their obligations.
"My life really changed," Robinson said. "It has, I mean it's still a struggle but it's changed."
Robinson now works at Raffield Tire Master off Tom Hill Senior Blvd.
Another graduation is expected in a few months.