Georgia Program Helps Jailed Dads Become Better Parents

There is a lot of talk these days about "deadbeat dads" - fathers who, for whatever reason, don't see their kids or keep up with their child support payments.

It's easy to focus on the bad apples in the bunch. In doing so, though, an important group often gets left by the wayside. There are thousands of Georgia dads who are working hard to build relationships with their children, even though they may have started off on the wrong foot or stumbled a couple times along the way.

Recently, the Muscogee County Jail started a new program designed to help incarcerated fathers rebuild their relationships with their children. It is the fourth program of its kind in the state of Georgia.

The six- to eight-week program is open only to fathers who meet a strict set of criteria. Participants live together in a "fatherhood dorm," where they work together to learn how to be better fathers and good role models for their children. For example, the dads learn about how to help a child appreciate reading and the importance of encouraging their children to stay in school.

As part of the program, the children come to visit their fathers in jail. Many participants report that, while it can be embarrassing for their children to see them in jail, the visit provides kids with a concrete example of what can happen if they make bad decisions.

Participation in the program can help put the dads in a better position to protect their fathers' rights when they are released from jail. Having this experience and training may give them a boost when it comes to requesting visitation or custody.

Source: WVTM, "Jail program promotes father-child relationships," July 17, 2012.

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