Coweta Child Support Court holds graduation
by Wes Mayer
The Coweta County Child Support Services Problem Solving Court held its graduation ceremony Friday with a luncheon at the Coweta County Fairgrounds.
The Honorable Judge John Simpson, who presides over the program, presented the graduation certificates to 14 participants, although a few graduates were delayed by their jobs. Judge Simpson and the program's coordinator, Tracy Blount, welcomed the audience to the graduation, and Pastor Ken Adams, author Wayne Stewart, Department of Human Services Commissioner Keith Horton, Child Support Services Director Tanguler Gray-Johnson and Kristen Laarhoven from the Governor's Office were guest speakers.
Simpson spoke about how, prior to the court, people arrested for violating child support would go to jail, get out, get in trouble and go right back to jail. The Problem Solving Court, he said, helps participants become better providers, receive courtesy and respect and obtain results. With the help of the University of West Georgia and West Georgia Technical College, the participants can also get help receiving GEDs and furthering their education.
Overall, the program was about putting people together so both parents can support the children, Simpson said.
Adams then provided a short prayer and said how, despite all the negativity and discouragement in the world, it is great for ou r community to accomplish something good. Stewart, a graduate of the court who was one of its first participants, then got up to tell his story - a story he wrote a book about, titled 'From Meth to the Master.'
Stewart is the proof the Problem Solving Court is a successful program, and he spoke on how it helped him transform from a methamphetamine junkie who was never around for his children into an assistant minister who was able to find the Lord and restart a life with his family.
'I don't know where you are in your life,' Stewart said to the graduates and audience, 'but just take it one step at a time.'
Horton then followed and talked about the four focuses of the DHS - put children first, employees are a valuable resource, customer interaction allows the opportunity to help, and children need both parents. Horton said children need a level playing field in life, and he was proud Judge Simpson rose to the occasion to start the first Problem Solving Court in Georgia, laying the foundation for 17 more in the state.
The graduates were praised by Gray-Johnson for serving the community through their relationships, and Laarhoven told them they were helping Georgia become more competitive. Blount thanked the graduates for teaching her the cases put on her desk every day are more than just a name on a page, and the program is about helping build families.
Each graduate then received their certificate from the judge, and graduated to the next stage of their life.