You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.


Welcome to

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

Fatherhood initiative raising awareness

Eli Williams will devote more time to Clark County group.

Forty percent of Springfield fathers are considered absent, according to the American Community Survey.

The Fatherhood Initiative and Fatherhood Clark County is trying to change that statistic. The group wants to find ways to prevent fathers from leaving their children and to support and guide fathers that are around.

Fatherhood Clark County Director Eli Williams started talks with County Commissioner John Detrick in 2009 about what he saw as a countywide issue of father absence. Williams’ organization, Urban Light Ministries, had already been doing work with fathers in the area since 2006, but he felt like more needed to be done.

“We felt that to make more progress, we needed more people,” Williams said. “We needed a coordinated effort to tackle this issue because it is so large and so pervasive within our community.

These talks resulted in Detrick and the county commission agreeing to create the Clark County Fatherhood Commission.

The commission is made up of several leaders from around the community, including Williams and Detrick. Others included Executive Director at Clark County Family and Children First Council Marilyn Demma, Springfield City Schools Superintendent David Estrop, Director of Clark County Jobs and Family Services Bob Suver, Juvenile Court Judge Joseph Monin and Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland, who later joined later in the process.

The commission meets every quarter to set the direction for the initiative.

After the creation of the commission came the creation of the Healthy Fathering Task Force, which brings together leaders from different sectors of the community including Business, Civic, Community Activism, Education, Faith, Government, Health, Law Enforcement, Media & Entertainment, Philanthropic, and Social Services.

“The Healthy Fathering Task Force will help drive the ongoing work of this initiative,” said Williams.

According to Demma, Fatherhood Clark County has been absorbed into the Family and Children First Council because of their similar goals within the community.

There are two main activities within the initiative: the action plan to promote responsible fatherhood and the annual celebration, which was last weekend’s Fatherhood Fest.

The main goals for the initiative right now are to find community leaders to fill the Healthy Fathering Task Force sectors and to continue work on the action plan within the community while in the process raising awareness about fatherlessness in the community.

There are also half a dozen standalone resource kiosks around the city with information about the initiative and Fatherhood Clark County.

The initiative is doing so much work that Williams will have to take a step back from Urban Light Ministries and, effective July 1, will have the majority of his efforts focused toward the Fatherhood Initiative.

Williams likened the fatherlessness epidemic to poverty in that the work is ongoing and the cause of the problem needs to be looked at and not just the issue itself.

“It is just as much about changing the community as it is about changing the men in the community,” said Demma.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Community News

Protests, pride on display for Confederate Memorial Day
Protests, pride on display for Confederate Memorial Day

State offices will be closed Monday in Alabama and Mississippi -- the only two states that honor Confederate Memorial Day. The day observes those who died fighting for the South during the Civil War after those states seceded from the U.S. Opponents are against it because they say it honors those who fought to maintain slavery. Supporters say the holiday...
Student dies in hammer throw accident at college track-and-field event 
Student dies in hammer throw accident at college track-and-field event 

A freshman at Wheaton College died after being accidentally hit during the hammer throw while volunteering at a track-and-field event Saturday. Ethan Roser, 19, was struck about 4:15 p.m. during the hammer throw event, in which competitors throw a weighted, tethered iron ball, at Chicago-area college the school said in a statement. Roser was rushed...
Scott Baio offers condolences after co-star Erin Moran's death
Scott Baio offers condolences after co-star Erin Moran's death

Scott Baio will miss Erin Moran. On Sunday, Baio shared his condolences after hearing about the sudden death of “Joanie Loves Chachi” co-star Erin Moran. “May people remember Erin for her contagious smile, warm heart, and animal loving soul. I always hoped she could find peace in her life. God has you now, Erin,” he wrote on...
5 people dead in New York house fire
5 people dead in New York house fire

At least five people are dead after a fire ripped through a two-story house Sunday afternoon in New York’s Queens borough.  There were three children and two adult victims. They have not yet been identified. A sixth person was home but escaped by jumping out of a window on the second floor. The fire started around 3 p.m. and spread to a...
Watch: 4-year-old girl falls from back of bus on busy highway, firefighter rescues
Watch: 4-year-old girl falls from back of bus on busy highway, firefighter rescues

A dash camera caught the harrowing moments after a 4-year-old girl fell from the back of a bus onto a busy Arkansas highway and was rescued by a local volunteer firefighter. Ryan Ciampoli was traveling behind the bus down Highway 65 in Harrison on Wednesday when his dash-mounted camera, running the entire time, caught a scene he couldn’t quite...
More Stories