By Stacy Kess
Glenn Harris works with a lot of fathers.
He recalled a Delaware-area father he met in May 2013. The man, then in his mid-40s, had been convicted of a crime 18 years earlier and lost his driver’s license - and with it, a connection with his children, his means of transportation to and from work and the ability to financially support his children.
The man had only one option to get things back in order: pay $3,000 to get his license reinstated. It was something he simply couldn’t afford, Harris said.
With the help of the Delaware County Child Support Enforcement Agency, the man reached out to Harris and Father Factor, a nine-week program that works to keep fathers involved in their children’s lives and create positive male role models for children. Father Factor, which is run by the Columbus non-profit Action for Children and is a part of The Art of Positive Parenting (TAPP) program, helped this man remove the barriers to being an involved father, including getting his driver’s license reinstated.
“Just that simple removal of that barrier” gave back the man’s fatherhood, Harris said. “To this day he continues to call and report to us how good he’s doing. It made him more able to actively participate in the lives of his children.”
This week, Harris announced Action for Children will bring TAPP: Father Factor to Delaware County so that more Delaware-area fathers can take part in the program that combines a parenting curriculum with case management.
The program’s focus is getting fathers involved in children’s lives as a positive role model. In the process, Father Factor helps non-custodial dads remove barriers to paying child support and take advantage of the rights to see their children.
“The Father Factor curriculum helps fathers properly navigate parenting and co-parenting roles as well as assisting in the discovery and cultivation of their nurturing potential,” Harris said in his announcement of the program’s extension into Delaware County. “This program helps fathers meet essential daily needs, while working towards a brighter future through education in parenting techniques, community resources, navigating institutional barriers, and successful keys to co-parenting.”
Harris said, often times, when a father is not paying child support, they will stop seeing their children for one reason or another and lose the involvement in the children’s lives. For some, simply being financially responsible for their children helps fathers regain their footing as a positive parent.
“Often times child support becomes evil empire in the community. Often times child support is one of those barriers” to being the best father, Harris said. “Over the last 6 or 7 years, we’re able to show once fathers go through (Father Factor) programming, they are 30 percent more likely to pay child support once those barriers are removed. Sixty percent of those (fathers) are contributing more.”
Navigating custody and child-support issues is only part of the process of involving fathers with their children in the most positive relationship possible.
“The program is so much more than child support, so much bigger than child support,” Harris said. “That’s not our only measure of success. Our number one goal is to make sure children are getting access to both moms and dads.”
The Delaware County Father Factor program will be held at Andrew’s House, 39 W. Winter St. Orientation for Father Factor is Sept. 8; classes run from Sept. 15 through Nov. 3.
For more information or to learn how to register for Father Factor, visit www.lmsbuilder.com/AfC/parents/.
Reporter Stacy Kess can be found on Twitter @StacyMKess.