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Phoenix Youth Helps Deadbeat Dads

Todd Kelley
Commentary Editor

   Phoenix Youth Services of Ashley County seeks to fix the problems of our youth by reaching out to fathers.
Studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services show that over the last 40 years there has been a dramatic increase in the number of fatherless children. In 1960, fewer than 10 million children had no father at home. Today, 25 million children live without fathers.

   Why is this important you may ask? Studies show that children that grow up without a responsible father are more likely to experience poverty, perform poorly in school, engage in criminal activities, and us drugs and or alcohol.

   The statistics on the aforementioned problems are not just miniscule numbers, played upon to make a story either, there exists a significant correlation between being fatherless and these behaviors. Trust me, once I fit into the all of the above category, until the birth of my son.

   I grew up without my father, I abused myself and every substance around me. I did not care about school, and guess what else, I also existed in poverty. While everything is not exactly how I wanted it to be by the time I had children, I got the hell over it. I accept the stress of going to college, working for hours and still not making any money for things I recreationally enjoy. I love the knot in my stomach when things pile up, because I know that none can look at me and call me anything but a man.

   Deadbeat fathers disgust me. It is selfish that they cannot accept what they did, but more disgusting is the fact that there is help for them and many do not even care enough to seek it. Instead of being a blight on our society they could do something, and HHS will make it easier to cope with it all on their own.

   So enraged, I went to speak with Ernest Smith of Phoenix Youth Services, to find out what is available to those that would want to maybe quit choking us with their pestilence. His response and dedication calmed me though and made me really find a deep respect for him.

   "One thing that I like is getting involved with fathers," Smith said. "There is just not as much help for them as for single mothers."

   This program is his hope to change that, and while things are slow to start he is hopeful.

   PYS serve Bradley, Drew, Chicot, De Shay and Ashley counties, but “The Nurturing Father Program” is exclusive to Ashley County, and specifically Crossett at this point. It may or may not spread to the other four counties that PYS operate in, that depends on the success of it in its pilot location (or perhaps it could, if people were willing to demand it).

   But why should we? What does the program do?

   First of all the program offers substance abuse counseling, or counseling for any “other” problems the father may have. That is not all though.

   Smith tries to open the door to effective communication between the two parents. PYS also helps ease the financial burden of single fathers by helping them find jobs, and easing strain of child support. PYS works with local courts, HHS and child support services to identify where help is needed.

   If you are in a county that does not have these services, take heart. You can go to http://fatherhood.hhs.gov to find other services within HHS, until our voices can be heard and steps taken to expand the program. President Bush already made his support of this program known, now it is up to us to let him know that we agree with it, we need it and we recognize that our children need us.

   So just like a feed the children commercial I am going to wrap this up.

   Won’t you please get off the couch today. Make the call, stand up and feed what you created. Quit blaming other people for your problems and be what you advertise, because after all, this has offended you, and the first words out of your mouth are going to be…"I am a full grown man, how can he talk to me like that."

  But guess what, you have shown no proof of that, and until you do, you have no right to call yourself a man.

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The Voice 2005
09/17/2007 02:14:51 PM— http://www.uamont.edu/Organizations/TheVoice/3_4/commentary2.htm