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Some men just have a hard time moving into the role of an involved father. Some have done jailtime, some are caught in a cycle of low income and few means. Though oftentimes, society is quick to label these men as “absentee” or “deadbeat” dads, it’s possible that with some guidance and structure, they’ll end up being the best dad on the block.

That’s why the Fathers, Families and Healthy Communities Demonstration Project exists. Started by G. Sequane Lawrence in 2010, the Project aims to give noncustodial African American dads in Chicago’s South Side a chance to reform and re-enter society as new men. Or, in their words, to “advance social and programmatic connectivity to form the foundation for high impact community-based services for African American non-custodial fathers and their families.” BOOM.

Currently, there are around 30 men in the Fathers, Families and Healthy Communities Demonstration Project (and nearly 30 words in the title of it too). The men are referred from other places – job training and educational placement agencies, for example – but are never court-ordered. The program is by at-will.

“The project helps men with legal issues regarding paternity, custody, visitation and child support,” according to the Chicago Tribune‘s coverage on the FFHCDP (yeah, we went there). Men can also receive help getting their “memo of understanding” from the Illinois Department of Child Support Services, which explains a father’s legal financial responsibility. Ultimately, the goal for these fathers is a better relationship with their kids and betterment as a man. The program also does a good deal of discussing gender roles and steering away from the concept of dads as sole protectors and providers.

To read more about the FFHCDP, check out the link to the Chicago Tribune article below or head straight to the FFHCDP’s website.