ATLANTA — A partnership between the Georgia Department of Human Services and local courts to improve child well-being and lower incarceration rates among noncustodial fathers is expanding to the Cherokee Judicial Circuit.

Cherokee Judicial Circuit Chief Judge David K. Smith is the newest judge to sign on as a partner to the Department’s Parental Accountability Court program. Judge Smith will hold a kickoff celebration for his new court at the Bartow County Courthouse in Cartersville Wednesday, April 17. The kickoff celebration is meant to raise awareness for the new program among parents who may be eligible.

Parental Accountability Court is a partnership between the Department and Superior Court Judges to help chronic nonpayers of child support begin to make regular payments, increasing parents’ financial and emotional involvement in their children’s lives, and avoid incarceration. The program has been successful in reducing incarceration costs and addressing the root causes of parents’ nonpayment of support, such as substance abuse, illiteracy and mental health issues.

Since 2012, the program has helped more than 6,200 Georgians avoid incarceration and benefited approximately 9,500 children who were not previously receiving regular support from both parents. Currently, 45 of the state’s 49 judicial circuits are committed to the PAC program.

                        WHEN:          Noon to 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 17

                        WHERE:           135 W. Cherokee Ave.
                                                    Cartersville, GA

                        WHO:      Chief Judge David K. Smith, presiding
                                                   Elaine Bryant, PAC coordinator