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Attorneys Vic Hill and Brad MacDonald

Georgia fatherhood program loses funding

Several Georgia technical colleges have lost funding for their long-running fatherhood programs, which provide education and support services to both father and mothers with the goal of strengthening families and serving the low-income community. The colleges are working to find alternative funding for the programs, but until that happens, this underserved population may again fall through the cracks.

In Georgia, fathers and mothers who are unable to make their court-ordered child support payments have relatively few options. Most fly under the radar in order to avoid being found in contempt of court and either forced to make payments through wage garnishment or some other means, or sentenced to jail. In response to this no-win situation, the fatherhood programs were created in 1996 to help noncustodial fathers who were facing contempt charges for nonpayment of child support.

The program was later opened up to mothers, and its goals were broadened. Now, the fatherhood programs at Chattahoochee Tech in Mariette, Athens Tech, Atlanta Tech, and 9 other technical colleges throughout Georgia focus on providing support services for parents to help them achieve education and career goals. A major component of the program is increasing participants’ ability to make money so they can more easily support their children and their family. The fathers who are enrolled in the program have an average of three children each.

The last few years of the program were funded by the American Reinvestment Recovery Act. But when those stimulus funds dried up, the state was no longer able to come up with the funds for the program.

However, Mike Light of the Technical College System of Georgia says that they are still working hard to serve the parents already enrolled in the program and come up with the funds necessary to continue it. “We’re not going to drop or lose (the students that were in the program when funding stopped). The college is still doing its best to serve them,” he said. “Our intention at this point is not to end the fatherhood program. We’ve got our feelers out there and we’re very hopefully we can find something.”

Source: Athens Banner-Herald, “Blueprint: Alternatives sought as funds for fatherhood programs cut,” April Burkhart, August 22, 2011