WEST DUNBAR, W. Va. (WSAZ) -- Twenty-four million children in this country have no contact with their biological father. Those children are more likely to be poor, to drop out of school and to find themselves in trouble with the law.
The Kanawha Institute for Social Research & Action has a 10-week program to help fathers reconnect with their children. The program offers classes in parenting, life management and job placement.
"Everybody is familiar with the 'dead-beat dad,' but very few are familiar with the dead-broke dad," said Carl Chadband, a fatherhood specialist for KISRA. "The dead-broke dad is the guy that wants to be involved with his kids and wants to pay child support and just wants to make enough money to support his child."
Studies show children pay the price when they don't have a father figure in their life.
"You can donate the seed, but almost any man can do that," said Jonathan Spurlin, a graduate of the program. "It takes a real man to be a daddy."
Spurlin is one the of the success stories of the fatherhood program. He was out of work. He didn't have any contact with his two children. Now, Spurlin is working his way back into their lives as a better father and role model. He's even enrolled in college.
"It's OK to get on the floor with my daughter and play dolls with her," he said. "She loves that. She wants to be a school teacher. We play school. She's my buddy now."
But for every story of success, there are countless disappointments for the fatherhood specialists. They say some fathers give up.
"I don't like them to say they give up," said LaTwane Pugh, a fatherhood specialist. "That's an excuse that they have been using for most of their life."
Demetrius Thompson is a student in the program. The father of four said he knows the hurdles in his way, but he refuses to go back to the streets.
"(Fathers) have been shying away from (their) responsibilities for much too long, and the end result is devastating," he said.
Thompson, like so many men in the fatherhood program, knows his children are counting on him to keep going.
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