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Springfield father program lands grant

Urban Light could receive more than $400K for work in 3 counties.

The “absent father” issue is a growing problem, but a new grant program hopes to help fathers achieve a more active role in their children’s’ lives in Clark, Greene and Montgomery counties.

Urban Light Ministries has been awarded a grant that could total $420,000 over four years to offer fatherhood programming in three counties. The organization will use the money for their “POPS Project 2.0,” partnering with county Job and Family Services agencies to reach dads in need, said Eli Williams, ministries director.

According to the latest U.S. Census, as many as one in three children nationwide are growing up in a home where their father doesn’t live with them. The problem is even worse locally, Williams said, with 40 percent of Springfield homes and 48 percent of Dayton homes being fatherless.

“We’re approaching the place where half the children in those cities are growing up without their fathers living in their home with them, and this has all kinds of negative consequences,” he said.

The $105,000 annual grant will allow Urban Light Ministries to reach as many as 200 fathers, offering help with finding a job or employment training, visitation and custody issues, child support payment assistance, fatherhood classes, individual coaching, co-parenting and relationship classes. Funds will be available for the next two years, and it could be renewed for four years depending on the program’s success.

Children who grow up with a father involved in their lives greatly influences their lives, statistics show. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 85 percent of children with behavior problems grow up in fatherless homes, 20 times higher than the national average. Sons and daughters who grow up knowing their father are also 40 percent less likely to repeat a grade and 70 percent less likely to drop out of school, according to the National Household Education Survey.

Urban Light Ministries has offered fatherhood assistance programming in Clark County since 2006. In 2012, it served more than 300 fathers and families throughout the Miami Valley.

To find out how you can receive assistance, contact your county Job and Family Services office or call (877) 856-1700.

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