March 7, 2016

South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families program to assist young parents

A new program called Parents On Point will provide support to pregnant and parenting teens and young adults in Horry County, South Carolina. It is being implemented by A Father's Place, which is part of a network of fatherhood programs reaching across South Carolina that is supported and coordinated by the South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families. The program will assist with educational attainment, family planning, parenting skills and access to services. Also involved are Family Outreach of Horry County and the Coastal Community Foundation.

Wallace Evans Jr., executive director of A Father's Place, spoke of the challenges that face young parents and their children. “The younger the parents, the more difficult the challenges that they're going to face and the bigger the obstacles that they're going to encounter,” he said. “Young mothers and fathers are more likely to come from economically disadvantaged situations and families and have lower educational attainment than other parents. In turn, their children are going to experience more negative outcomes. It's a vicious cycle that continues to repeat itself.”

Funding for this effort comes through the Office of Adolescent Health at U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Children's Trust of South Carolina and the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy serve as statewide partners in directing this effort. The Benefit Bank/SC Thrive and the South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families will help provide training, technical assistance and service links across the state.

Teen birth rates in South Carolina have fallen by 61 percent since the early 1990s, according to the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. However, South Carolina is still 12th in the nation in teen birth rates, and many individual South Carolina counties lag farther behind.

“The idea here to make sure we have a cohesive, communitywide effort that can roll out resources for pregnant and parenting teens, young mothers and fathers,” said Forrest Alton, the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy executive director. “We know this is a population in great need of access to education assistance, both high school and continuing education, access to health care resources, and access to life skills, job skills and parenting skills. It's going to take a collaborative effort of a number of agencies to create a path forward for this very vulnerable population.”

The South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families, which is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System, supports six fatherhood programs in South Carolina while promoting father-friendly policies and practices, and helping to erase society's negative stereotype of unwed, low-income dads.

Pictured are: Forrest Alton of the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, Conway, South Carolina, Mayor Barbara Blain-Bellamy, Susan Canterbury of Family Outreach of Horry County and Wallace Evans Jr. of A Father's Place.

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