Man 2 Man helping men become better fathers
By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer, email@example.com
Statistics show that when fathers are actively involved in raising their children, kids are less likely to be expelled from school, go to jail, or get pregnant as teens, and are twice as likely to go to college.
One local program is aiming to help more fathers engage with their kids by providing resources and education to help them be the best dads they can be.
Based in Florence, the Man 2 Man Fatherhood Initiative started in 1999 when a group of concerned citizens in Marlboro County began to brainstorm ways to stem the epidemic of fatherless families. They sought and received initial funding from the Sisters of Charity in Columbia, and were subsequently funded by the Pee Dee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Assault and the Chesterfield/Marlboro EEOC before becoming a registered 501(c)3 non-profit in 2004.
Today, Man 2 Man belongs to a statewide network of six programs dedicated to helping fathers become engaged in their children’s lives. They receive oversight and direction from the South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families, based in Columbia.
Program participants come to Man 2 Man as volunteers or through court referrals as part of the ATI (Alternative to Incarceration) program, which helps men who have fallen into arrears on their child support payments.
“Instead of sending these men to jail for falling behind on child support, they can send them to our program,” says Terrance Turner, intervention specialist with Man 2 Man. “For eighteen months, we will work with them, provide them services, get them employed so they can become successful and provide for their families.”
Any man aged 18 or older with children under the age of 18 is eligible to enroll with Man 2 Man, and they have begun a new program aimed at expectant fathers aged 15 to 24.
“We focus on goal setting and working on the total man. A lot of that work is focused on mindset, like how they think about themselves and how they think about children,” says Turner.
He says that Man 2 Man helps men formulate a “one man plan” which identifies three barriers that prevent them from being the type of father they want to be,
then they work up a roadmap to help them get past those barriers. The program’s formal curriculum includes six-week classes on healthy relationships, parenting, economic stability, and a five-week course on men’s health.
“In each of those courses, children are at the forefront of what we talk about. We encourage the fathers to think of their child first, to think about how they grew up and how they want their child to grow up, what type of father do they want to be to their children,” says Turner.
In addition to the classroom work, Man 2 Man provides practical employment help through learning opportunities, such as a recent manufacturing skills training session held at Florence-Darlington Tech’s SiMT facility. Man 2 Man also provides access to resources like SC Works and SC Thrives.
“Any type of barrier that a father may face, we try to help alleviate that barrier,” says Turner.
To learn more about their program, visit them on Facebook @man2manfathers, or at their website: man2manfathers.com