New Use for Problem Solving Courts: Fathering Courts
Jackson County Pioneers Missouri Move to Fathering Courts
KANSAS CITY, MO - Kevin Gainey was on top of the world. A good job as a bail bondsman, a lake home, and custody of his young son following his divorce.
But bad habits caught up with him, his son moved back with his mom, and Gainey lost his job.
"Wasn't always accountable for my actions," Gainey now says. "A lot of it had to do with my substance abuse problem."
With no money, doing odd jobs, and a sobriety issue, Gainey fell behind in his child support, and wound up facing criminal charges. Despite that, prosecutors deemed him a good candidate for a diversion program that could give Gainey a fresh start and keep him out of prison: fathering court.
Launched in 1998, Jackson County's fathering court is modeled after its drug court: parents, most often dads, get help meeting the challenges that may be holding them back through an initial screening. Regular follow-up court appearances are designed to keep them on track.
"I think that's the role of fathering court. To identify the barriers that are preventing payment of support, and then to direct them to the services that resolve those issues," says Family Court Commissioner Patrick Campbell, himself a father of two.