Dads for Dollars offers fathers help on communicating with their - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Dads for Dollars offers fathers help on communicating with their children

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) --  A multi-million dollar investment in Louisville is designed for priceless family results. 

"Wonderful little girl, nine-years-old, smart, plays. She loves music and dance," Shauncey Jessup, father of Kayla Jessup. "A and B honor roll; was vice president of her class this year. She's something else." 

To call Shauncey Jessup a proud father is a bit of an understatement. He says his daughter is his everything,   

"Very much so, my world is around her," Jessup said. 

Though he doesn't always spend as much time as he'd like with his daughter Kayla. Jessup is a divorced father and admits to having a strained relationship with her mother at times.

Jessup said the hardest part is feeling like he doesn't have influence that he wants to have.

"The custodial parent gets to make the decisions that you are not always involved in," he said.

 Jessup's part of a first of its kind program at the University of Louisville.  Dad's making a difference. 

"Conflict resolution, co-parenting communication, showing and handling feelings, mental health. We touch on all of those topics," the leader of the group, Associate Professor U of L Kent School of Social Work Armon Perry, said. 

Professor Armon Perry landed a $5 million federal grant to fund a workshop and research with fathers not in living in the same home as their children. It's a six month training that includes a team to help fathers with underemployment, unemployment and child support.

Perry says there is a dire need for the program. He says 35 percent of all children live apart from their fathers. The number skyrockets to almost 70 percent in the African American community. Society sees the consequences in the streets, in schools and behind bars. Perry says things related to poverty, juvenile delinquency, teen pregnancy and low educational attainment are all connected in some way to children who have disengaged fathers. 

"My mom and dad split when I was like one or two, very young. Yes, I know him but we have no relationship and that's being very honest," Jessup said. "I refuse to let my daughter go through that. I don't want her to have the feeling I had like feeling something is not there in your life."

Perry hopes to foster better relationships among fathers and children, and in some instances start them. Success also means reducing the number of dad's delinquent on child support. 

" It's actually opened my eyes to saying you know what even though I thought I was a great parent there's a lot I could be doing much better," Jessup said.

The project aims to reach 1,500 fathers like Jessup in the next five years. Fathers who participate receive a small stipend.   

The program is still in its pilot stage. Orientation for classes is set to begin on July 9th. 

You can find enrollment information  for this program HERE. 



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