County Wins $10 Million for Fatherhood Program
Federal grant for “Responsible Fatherhood” will help fathers support their children, Abele says.
At a press conference yesterday, County Executive Chris Abele announced that a $10 million grant from the federal government will be awarded to the Milwaukee County Child Support Services over the span of five years. The grant will enable the county’s “Pathways to Responsible Fatherhood” program to continue to help fathers stabilize their financial situations and keep up to date with child support checks. The Milwaukee County Child Support Services is the only agency in the United States to receive this grant.
“This grant, which is as far as I know the highest that has been awarded, is going towards your Milwaukee Child Support Department,” Abele announced at Next Door Milwaukee, an organization that focuses on strengthening families through education and is one of several partners of The Pathways to Responsible Fatherhood.
The federal grant will provide $2 million per year for the next five years, allowing Milwaukee County to add more in-depth services and provide more hands-on case management with an increased level of measurement and evaluation for the Pathways to Responsible Fatherhood program.
The program was created in 2012. It is a county-wide collaboration made up of several community partners that each play different roles in helping fathers get back on their feet financially, communicate with their family better, and to stay consistent with paying their child support. The Milwaukee County Child Support Services has been awarded grants for this program in the past, including a $1.8 million grant in 2014. Jim Sullivan, who ran for Milwaukee County Executive in 2011, is the current director of the Child Support Services. Abele hired Sullivan in 2011, and in his four years as director, Sullivan has changed the name of the department from Child Support Enforcement to Child Support Services, and led the department to being named “department of the year” in 2013 by the Wisconsin Child Support Enforcement Association.
“He has a team at Child Support Services that makes me extraordinarily proud, and should make you proud too,” Abele said.
“There’s no greater joy in my life than being a dad and being involved in my kids’ lives,” Abele said in an earlier press release. “I want every father to have the opportunity to provide for their children and help them succeed.” In the first three years of the Pathways to Responsible Fatherhood program, it has provided assistance to more than 6,000 Milwaukee area fathers, to include job training and employment services for more than 1,100 fathers, with more than 500 of them actually receiving a job placement.
Khalid Crockerham, a father who is enrolled in the program, spoke about his experience. “I was going through a lot of problems with my kids’ mom,” he said. “The program has really help me be consistent with myself and my kids.”
Since enrolling in the program, Crockerham has been consistently paying his child support. He also attended Milwaukee Area Technical College for a degree in Cosmetology, something he has been wanting to do since he was 12 years old. He now works at a tavern.
“We all want to be good parents. But there are barriers out there. There are barriers to employment, there are educational challenges, problems with long term unemployment, and this is a program to take away some of the barriers,” Abele noted.
On October 16th and 17th, the annual Fatherhood Summit, a two day event centered on solutions to the issue of fatherlessness, will be held at Destiny’s Plaza. Vin Baker, former player for the Milwaukee Bucks, will be telling his story about the challenges he faced after leaving professional basketball and how he has come back from them.