Wednesday, September 1, 2010

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Attorney General Abbott Awards Grant To Assist Brownwood-Area Families

BROWNWOOD – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today awarded a grant to Brownwood-based Family Services Center, Inc. that will help Texas parents – specifically those who lack custody – stay involved in their children’s lives. The nonprofit Family Services Center will use the federally-funded grant to promote joint parenting skills and encourage both parents to positively impact their children.

“Texas children are truly the future of our state,” Attorney General Abbott said. “Access and Visitation grants help the youngest Texans by providing valuable financial support for programs that encourage parents to actively participate in their children’s lives. Having involved parents not only benefits Texas children, it also benefits Texas taxpayers by ensuring parents financially support their kids.”

The Texas Attorney General’s Office is responsible for operating the state’s child support program, which awarded today’s grants through its Shared Parenting Program. This year, more than $500,000 in Shared Parenting grants was awarded to private nonprofit organizations and local governments across Texas.

Other Shared Parenting grant recipients are: Bexar County Domestic Relations Office in San Antonio; El Paso County Domestic Relations Office in El Paso; Family Court Services of Tarrant County; Harris County Domestic Relations Office in Houston; Travis County Domestic Relations Office in Austin; Project Unity’s Safe Harbour program in Bryan; NewDay Services for Children and Families in Fort Worth; and the Houston Galveston Institute providing services in Dallas.

Access and Visitation grants provide funding for services that help never-married, divorced or separated parents comply with the court’s visitation orders. These grants are intended to provide early intervention, co-parenting education, alternative dispute resolution, visitation compliance and other skills that may help parents resolve personal differences for the good of their children.

“By partnering with the Family Services Center, we are able to encourage families in ways we simply could not do alone,” Attorney General Abbott added. “Children benefit when both parents demonstrate that they care. This grant will help Brownwood-area moms and dads build and maintain healthy relationships with their children.”

Studies have found that noncustodial parents who stay involved with their children are more likely to make regular child support payments. Studies also indicate that children whose parents pay their child support have fewer behavior problems, make better grades and stay in school longer than children who do not receive regular child support.

Texas has received Access and Visitation funding from the federal government since 1997. This year’s grant recipients were selected based on their ability to provide priority services identified by a statewide team of family law judges, court administrators, directors of county domestic relations offices and child support program officials.

The Attorney General’s Office maintains an online directory of programs across Texas that facilitates joint parenting after separation or divorce. Parents, counselors and other professionals can search the online directory by zip code, county or service provided. The directory is located on the Child Support section of the Attorney General’s website at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.

Access and Visitation funding is authorized by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (the Welfare Reform Act). In accordance with the Act, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services distributes $10 million each year to states. Each state’s distribution is based upon the number of children in the state who do not live with both parents.