Noncustodial parents in Texas have legal child support responsibilities, but often face economic hardship. The Noncustodial Parents Choices Program (NCP) assists low-income unemployed or underemployed noncustodial parents, who are late with their child support payments when their children are current or former public assistance recipients.

NCP programs began in August 2005 and is comprised of 17 Workforce Development Boards in Texas. It assists parents by providing job referrals and search assistance, support services, training, subsidized employment and work experience, educational assistance and assistance with career retention and advancement. The program helps parents find and keep steady jobs that provide sufficient income for support payments and their own needs.

NCP staff performs a needs assessment for each parent ordered into the program. An employment plan is designed to transition the parent into a stable job. The NCP obtains job leads, job search guidance and monitoring from other agencies.

NCP has eligibility requirements. A noncustodial parent or child must have been a former recipient or currently receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or Medicaid benefits. Parents must also be unemployed or underemployed, live in the geographical area served by a participating board and have the legal ability to work in the United States.

Participation must be in accordance with an Office of Attorney General-issued consent order and a court order. There are legal penalties for noncompliance with these orders.

NCP programs are an intended remedy for a problem that afflicts Texas and the nation. The U.S. Department of Children and Families found that 25 percent of children in this country are in the support system.

Child support accounts for over half of the average income for low-income custodial parents who receive child support. Twenty to thirty percent of noncustodial parents in Texas are not employed in full-time or steady jobs, according to the Office of Attorney General.

A custodial parent should seek legal assistance when the other parent is making delinquent payments or if a modification is needed. A lawyer can help find legal solutions to nonpayment.