New Friend of the Court program to benefit lower income users

St. Joseph County Friend of the Court Bill Thistlethwaite last week discussed a new program being funded and encouraged by the federal and state governments to address the low-income population.
Thistlethwaite said a new service is being offered to the lower-income group through a pilot program. The program was put into place in 2015 to identify the people who fit into the lower-income category, assess the barriers to their support non-payment, then create a strategy to confront those issues.
Barriers Thistlethwaite cited included a felony record, no driver’s license, substance-abuse issues, no transportation, current incarceration, physical or mental instability, homelessness, lack of education and some were self-employed but had inadequate income.
An employment specialist hired by the department will, upon referral, assess the individual barriers to employment, conduct a skills assessment and offer appropriate services such as job-readiness training, job-search assistance, job-placement services and then make a referral to community resources, Thistlethwaite said.

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