Child support truck drives into Newark

By Jessica Mazzola | NJ Advance Media, for
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on August 25, 2014

Kai Patterson and staff at the Project Child Support mobile unit unveiling.


NEWARK — The list of things New Jersey residents can pick up from a truck vendor is growing – falafel, frozen yogurt, and now free legal advice on how to collect child support.

Newark native Kai Patterson founded “Project Child Support,” in 2011. The nonprofit offers support to both custodial and non-custodial parents involved in child support disputes. Starting today, Patterson is taking his mission on the road.

The Project Child Support staff officially unveiled its new mobile assistance center in Newark Friday. Patterson says the large truck will travel around cities throughout New York and New Jersey providing “easy access” to residents involved in child support battles.

“We have a brick and mortar location, and offer services online,” Patterson said.
“But one day it hit me. We need to serve a critical mass of people living in cities like Newark, and going mobile is the best way we can reach the people that really need us.”

Starting today, the truck will be parked in various locations throughout the city hoping to attract new clients. It carries a staff of four – a case assessment representative, a paralegal, a law clerk, and a family law attorney.

Staff members call the mobile unit a “one-stop shop” for parents. It offers investigations into child support cases, assistance with legal documentation, and even has “licensed fugitive recovery agents,” or bounty hunters, on staff to locate non-paying parents.

For non-custodial parents, staffers say they provide services like court representation in the event of a job loss or another situation that changes a parent’s financial situation.

“What makes this service great is that it benefits both sides,” Antoinette Bennett, a Project Child Support client who is seeking what she says is $1 million in unpaid child support from her daughter’s father.

“Custodial parents can go here for support, and so can non-custodial parents for help with what they legally need to do, or what they should do if they aren’t able to make payments. It’s really all about getting kids what they deserve, and that’s what Project Child Support helps make happen.”

The truck offers services for free to unemployed parents, and for a fee to employed ones.

“Our whole aim was to create a cost-effective way for parents to get the child support payments they deserve,” Patterson said.

“If parents have to pay more than they’d be getting to collect, what’s the point?”

Though Patterson said he is familiar with other mobile law offices, he says this is the only one of its kind that is dedicated to child support.

“Hopefully, this idea can spread,” Patterson said.

“But we are starting in Newark for a few reasons. First, I was born and raised here. There are people here who really need this service. And, it’s a tribute to my mother, who raised me here as a single parent that never received a dime of child support from my father.”

Project Child Support also works with other family-based non-profits in Newark.

“I think this initiative is extraordinary,” Wesley Jenkins, executive director of Babyland Family Services, an organization that assists with family development, and aides foster care families, domestic abuse victims, and others, said at the ribbon cutting.

“We can refer the families we work with to this service as a resource. And the fact that it’s mobile and can be accessible to them makes it even better.”

The Mobile Assistance Center will be parked from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the following locations over the next few weeks:

  • August 25 - Essex County Family Court -121 Washington St., Newark, NJ 07102
  • August 26 - Kings County Family Court - 330 Jay Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201
  • August 27 - Hudson County Family Court - 595 Newark Avenue, Jersey City, NJ 07306
  • August 28 - Passaic County Family Court - 401 Grand Street, Paterson, NJ 07505
  • August 29 - Manhattan County Family Court - 60 Lafayette Avenue, New York, NY 10013
  • September 2 - Bronx County Family Court - 900 Sheridan Avenue, Bronx, NY 10451
  • September 3 - Middlesex County Family Court - 120 New Street, New Brunswick, NJ 07903
  • September 4 - Rockland County Family Court - 1 South Main Street, New City, NY 10956
  • September 5 - Union County Family Court - 2 Broad Street, Elizabeth, NJ 0720
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