Many of our local fatherhood programs have provided quality services to fathers for more than 10 years making our programs some of the most experienced in the southeast. While many fathers share the same challenges as low-income mothers, our body of work and continuous interactions have built a significant knowledge base for responding to the unique challenges of fathers.
Responsible Fatherhood: While a few South Carolina programs reach out to low-income fathers, only the SC Center for Fathers and Families' programs have extensive experience in delivering a full menu of services designed for men to develop the knowledge, confidence, and skills needed to become responsible fathers and cooperative co-parents.
Jobs Not Jail: An Alternative to Incarceration. Paying child support and navigating the child support system is a significant challenge for low-income fathers. While many non-paying fathers are characterized as deadbeats - fathers who are able but unwilling - many fathers simply can not pay due to unemployment or underemployment. For many, failure to pay often results in penalties and incarceration. The typical sentence for non-payment of child support is six months incarceration in a county detention center and sadly, incarceration worsens most situations rather than improving them. The Center and local programs partnered with Family Court Judges and Child Support Enforcement to create an alternative to incarceration that aims at remedying the real problems.
Child Support: Fathers are often entangled in the child support system yet they can not afford a lawyer to help them understand and navigate the complex system. Fear and mistrust inhibits getting the information and help they need. Fatherhood programs must have a partnership with and a comprehensive understanding of the child support system in order to serve low-income fathers.
Men's Health: Being physically healthy is important to responsible fatherhood. Yet, men, particularly low-income men, have minimal access to healthcare and frequently mistrust health care professionals. Collaborating with a network of healthcare providers, The Center and four local program sites created an innovative program for low-income fathers designed to educate and gain access to much-needed health care services. As a result of experience gained by The Center and local programs service delivery alternatives and valuable insights have been gained concerning the attitudes and understandings of men about their health.
Job Readiness/Employment: Being able to provide financially for one's family is critical to responsible fatherhood yet low-skilled, poorly educated fathers with erratic work histories experience greater difficulties securing consistent employment paying a livable wage. Fatherhood programs deliver soft skill training sought by most potential employers, as well as, offering pathways to job training opportunities, all of which provide critical links between fathers and employment opportunities.
Parenting: While many quality organizations offer parenting training, fatherhood programs emphasize the unique role of fathers and help address challenges faced by fragile families in raising their children.
Data Collection: The Center's local programs have consistently collected demographic data about fathers, their challenges, as well as, outcomes of program service delivery. Both The Center and local programs utilize a participatory approach to evaluation, Evaluation from the Start.