Giving Hope to Single Fathers
Will you tell me a little bit about Father Figure Foundation?
Father Figure Foundation (FFF) is an Arizona-based non-profit organization that helps alleviate the financial burden for at-risk single fathers who are unable to pay their child support and nurture a relationship with their children by fostering an environment of volunteerism, community service and extra-curricular activities for kids.
What inspired you to start Father Figure Foundation?
Four years ago, I personally experienced the trauma of our broken child support system. I felt hopeless with nowhere to turn when I couldn’t pay my child support, then I was incarcerated, not because I didn’t want to pay my child support, but because I couldn’t. The anger from what I had experienced inspired me to search for solutions to rescue single dads from the severe consequences of short-term financial challenges. Jail time makes a bad situation worse, and the choice offered by the court system doesn’t provide a realistic way to resolve the problem. By proposing options to the courts, the child, father and custodial mother can develop effective co-parenting relationships and engage children in extra-curricular activities. By alleviating temporary economic stress, single fathers and mothers remain positively engaged with their kids, opening the door to impactful co-parenting.
How does the application process work?
It’s a pretty easy process to apply. Friends and family, word of mouth, non-profit and community partners, and our family courts refer the court ordered single dads to FFF. They fill out our background questionnaire and submit it online. Once they pass our screening and background check, we have an orientation meeting once a week where we direct these single dads to our community service volunteer projects. Those volunteer credit hours are exchanged for cash, which is paid by FFF directly to the Department of Economic Security in Arizona, so that the moms and kids collect a portion of the unpaid child support. It’s important to know that our free membership is 100 percent organic and philanthropic.
What sets this organization apart from others?
When I started FFF, I dug deep to resolve the larger problem, first with myself, then in society. After losing everything, I knew that this cause went beyond just rescuing myself. I knew that with my passion to help in this struggle that it was critical for me to team up with caring people. I thought that we could build something together and accomplish many wonderful things like providing other options to judges to omit incarceration of these heartbeat dads and keep families together. We also wanted to give hope and assurance to parents about impactful co-parenting, their parental obligations and fostering a loving and nurturing relationship with their children through our partnered self-improvement and development workshops. We want to encourage kids to find their passion. So, my team and I have put together a platform that does this. The more families participate in these mentorship classes and workshops, the more their kids win.
What are some recent projects that you have been working on?
We are currently in the development and corporate structure portion of our pilot program launch, and writing the curriculum for several of our platforms. In particular, our screening and background process and certification, as well as the arrangement with our non-profit partners for volunteer efforts and extra-curricular activities, joining with our partners for development and self-improvement classes, workshops and forums. We will also assist and support our Superior Court family judges and attorneys through our proactive solutions. I see our organization in the near future being a portal or gateway to our community and government.
What major success can you share with us?
Most importantly, I have four great kids, two that live here in Arizona. And just this past July, I was awarded custody of my two boys, which is what I am most happy about.
For the Foundation, certainly our tax exemption and determination letter from the IRS is exciting, as well as our partnerships with many professional organizations and community leaders who often comment on how our design is unique and innovative, different from all the rest. I am happy to see the funding stages finally coming together, as a former Department of Defense Senior IRS agent will take the seat at FFF for accounting, and other sharp advisors will provide sound governance as well. We are certainly attracting the right people here at FFF and look forward to the future to solve and put this complicated puzzle back together. A special thanks to all who have had a hand in our success, you know who you are… Rescue is on the way!