According to David Harris, director of the Georgia Fatherhood Program, parents who are regularly involved with their children are three times better at making their child support payments than those who have little or no contact with their children.
Last year, approximately 4,300 people -- both fathers and mothers -- took part in the Fatherhood Program, which is administered through the Division of Child Support Services. Harris expects nearly double that number to participate this year.
Fathers' Involvement Makes a Big Difference to Kids
One goal of the program is to help ensure that both parents are involved in their children's lives. Studies show that children with absentee fathers are a great deal more likely to be troubled. Fatherless children make up 70 percent of juveniles in Georgia's state reform institutions, and 63 percent of youth suicides. Daughters without a father in the home are 164 percent more likely to have an out-of-wedlock birth.
Economic Stability One Key to Meeting Child Support Obligations
Another goal is building self-sufficiency. The program, which takes three to six months to complete, asks participating parents to get a GED if they don't have a high school diploma and to take part in the Georgia Work Ready program. They are also required to work and to pay their child support throughout the course of the program.
The Fatherhood Program is offered through the Department of Family and Children's Services, and also through the Department of Corrections for parents who need help taking care of their parental obligations while reintegrating into society. The program includes the opportunity for subsidized employment through a federal grant.
"We work with employers and pay 80 percent of the salary for up to six months. It helps people get a job and helps employers find out if the individual is going to be a good employee," said Harris in a May 3 meeting of the Rome Kiwanis Club.
"A lot is going to depend on what the economy does," he added. "Most people who come into our program really want to do the right thing. They want to do right for their kids," Last year, the program was able to collect more than $12 million in child support from participating parents.
"Harris: Children benefit when both parents are involved" (Rome News-Tribune, May 4, 2010)