A Father's Place | 'We are not just a broken dads' club'
at a glance
MISSION | Engage fathers in the positive support of their children and enhance community support for fatherhood throughout the Waccamaw region.
FOUNDED | 1999 in Conway
LOCATION | Serves Georgetown and Horry counties, as well as Marion and Williamsburg counties. Offices are in Conway, Myrtle Beach, Georgetown and Marion.
It may be health challenges, trouble finding work or just a desire to be better.
Whatever leads dads to walk into A Father’s Place, the agency is eager to craft a unique plan for each man to improve and be engaged in his kids’ lives.
The non-profit is a one-stop shop for fathers to get support and guidance, find a career path and develop a new confidence.
“We are not just a broken dads’ club,” said Wallace Evans Jr., executive director of A Father’s Place. “We are here for every father. We have something for every man within our community. They are looking to be better dads, to grow as fathers and grow as men.”
The result is not just happier homes. Having fathers engaged in their child’s life can reduce poverty (children in father-absent homes are five times more likely to be poor), decrease school dropouts, reduce teen pregnancy and more, Evans said.
“Many of those issues come from a father’s absence in homes,” he said. “It’s just so much higher when the father is not involved. Anything you can name is improved when the father is actually engaged.”
A Father’s Place is one of about 25 partners in the Tidelands Community Care Network, which was created by Tidelands Health in partnership with Access Health SC and The Duke Endowment. The network is comprised of health educators, state agencies, transportation providers, primary and specialty care providers and others who can help uninsured residents have access to medical care.
“An engaged father can make a huge difference in so many ways, from reducing the chances of poverty in the home to helping ensure the kids don’t drop out of school,” said Kelly Kaminski, director of community health resources for Tidelands Health. “A Father’s Place is helping make a difference in our community by getting dads on the right career path and helping them find the confidence to be the best providers they can be.”
A Father’s Place helps roughly 250 men in their late 20s to mid-30s each year through a curriculum that includes lessons on economic stability, parenting, personal development, men’s health and more. Most of the participants find the program on their own; others are ordered by the court to participate.
One of the most common challenges the men face is employment. Nearly 75 percent of the men don’t have a job when they arrive. The agency’s employment boot camp helps men find the right type of work, develop the needed job skills and learn how to present themselves in a job interview.
“It’s really helping them find their fit,” Evans said. “We want to make certain we match our participants with the best career path.”
Many of the men who have been out of work also have lost their self-esteem. A Father’s Place has programs to help restore their confidence “so they can really dream again.”
Men stay in the program for at least six months, though some continue for nine months or up to a year. They’ll also learn how take care of their health – physical and mental – and truly be there for their kids.
“Child support is much more than finances,” Evans said. “It is nurturing with our presence. You can be physically present and emotionally absent. It’s helping men understand the importance of being engaged.”