Program aims to assist fathers

Posted 9/14/18

SUMITON – Bryan Miller, case manager for the Jasper Family Service Center, spoke about helping fathers at the September East Walker Chamber of Commerce monthly meeting on Tuesday in …

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Program aims to assist fathers


SUMITON – Bryan Miller, case manager for the Jasper Family Service Center, spoke about helping fathers at the September East Walker Chamber of Commerce monthly meeting on Tuesday in Sumiton.

 Miller talked about the various services offered by the organization to families throughout Walker County, but his main focus was on the Fatherhood Initiative. This program assists custodial and non-custodial fathers.

They accomplish this by teaching skills that enhance the father’s ability to meet financial responsibilities and maintain a nurturing relationship with their children. This training also reinforces the rights and responsibilities of being a parent by offering case management, job-training classes, and employment seeking.

The mission of the Fatherhood Initiative is to inspire the well being of children by increasing the number of fathers involved with children in a responsible, committed manner.

The Fatherhood Initiative is a 12-plus week program. Although many participants are court ordered, the program can be attended voluntarily.

Miller shared some sobering statistics during his presentation. In the U.S. in 2014, 23.6 percent of the children grow up in fatherless homes. Children growing up in fatherless homes are more likely to use or deal drugs, carry guns, get into trouble at school and live in poverty. Boys growing up in fatherless homes are much more likely to engage in delinquency than boys growing up in homes with fathers.

Alabama is one of the states with the most fatherless homes, with almost one in three households with children in Alabama having that designation. Only Louisiana and Mississippi have more homes where no father is involved. Many of these situations are because the father is in jail.

“I grew up in a home without a father,” Miller. “And that’s why I do what I do.”  

He went on to say that his grandfather helped him from becoming a statistic. He also credits his involvement in his church as a factor that helped him through difficult times.

He worked with kids for 16 years as a youth minister at his church. But he began to realize that the best way to help kids was to help their parents.

“To change the life of a 14-year-old, I have to change the life of their mom and dad,” Miller said.

Some dads feel they can’t be a good father because they are unemployed, they are living in poverty, or other factors. Miller said the Fatherhood Initiative teaches and encourages father’s to be the best dad they can be no matter what their circumstances are.

Miller said he hears fathers constantly say that they love their children, but they can’t stand their mother.

“I tell them they have to figure out a way to work together with her to be able to help your kids,” he said.

The classes teach fathers a wide range of skills that help them become a better parent. One of the most important things they teach is to have fun with their kids.

According to Miller, a father’s role is not just about being a disciplinarian, but having fun with their kids. “This is an effective way to connect with children,” he said.

The Fatherhood Initiative program is currently funded by the Children's Trust Fund of Alabama.

In other business, the East Walker Chamber Executive Director Chee-Vee Whitfield reported that the recent EWCC Golf Tournament was a success, adding some sponsorship payments haven’t come in yet. She also reminded attendees about the ribbon -utting ceremony at the City of Lights Dream Center in Dora on Saturday, Sept. 15, at 10:30 a.m.

Chamber President Doug Ragsdale said the date for the fourth quarter meet and greet in Sumiton will be in October. The date and time will be announced once that is finalized with Sumiton officials.