By Ariele Vaccaro
County Executive Chris Abele and Milwaukee County Child Support Services last Thursday announced that Milwaukee would be renewed for a five-year federal grant to help fathers become financially capable of sustaining their families.
The funding will add up to about $10 million over half a decade.
The federal grant, called “New Pathways for Fathers and Families”, will be distributed to Child Support Services.
From there, the County will use the funds to help Milwaukee dads secure job training, education, and housing via a number of community organizations. With the last installment of the grant, the County was able to make 500 job placements.
“It means we’re going to serve a hell of a lot more people,” said Abele during the conference at the Next Door Foundation.
This grant will work in conjunction with the another federal grant to form the “Pathways to Responsible Fatherhood” project.
According to Director of Child Support Services Jim Sullivan, the renewal will make it possible for more fathers to not only pay child support, but connect with their children by making it easier to move past legal, educational, and employment challenges.
“I think that the great thing about the New Pathways for Fathers and Families grant is that it recognizes the fact that there isn’t a particular family structure, that there’s an awful lot of different kind of families in our community, that they’re all families, and all those relationships are important,” said Sullivan.
More so than simply enforcing child support payment, Sullivan also contends that services as part of “Pathways to Responsible Fatherhood” increase the likelihood that fathers will make their payments.
“So really, I think it’s a win-win-win kind of situation,” he said.
A number of community organizations utilize the grant along with Child Support services, including the Center for Self-Sufficiency, UMOS, the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board, Centro Legal, Community Advocates, the Milwaukee Fatherhood Initiative, My Father’s House, Next Door Foundation, and the Social Development Commission.
Khalid Crockerhan — a Milwaukee father who took advantage of the New Pathways funding — spoke at the conference. The cosmetology student endorsed the project, which he said connected him with job training, schooling, and housing.
“It’s really on the guys to take the initiative,” Crockerhan said.
The announcement came on the heels of a two-day Fatherhood Summit.
The event, which took place the following week, Oct 16 and 17, aimed to encourage fathers to become more active in their children’s lives and show them resources to help improve their own employment and education.
There, Milwaukee fathers took advantage of a job fair and found services available to them for driver’s license recovery, health screenings, and educational advancement.