A central Iowa program that primarily helps men released from prison be good parents is entering its 11th year.
Dave Schwartz, the CEO of the YMCA of Greater Des Moines, says the men who entered his organization’s fatherhood program in 2011 and 2012 were paying, on average, about 36 percent of their monthly child support obligations.
“The year after our program, that number was 68 percent,” he says, “and even four years later they’re still paying 65 percent, which is still above the national average.”
That is roughly the national average. According to state official, the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau indicates men who owed child support were paying about 67.5 percent of what they owed. About 10,000 children in Iowa today are getting none of the child support their parent is supposed to pay.
Schwartz says the Greater Des Moines Y’s program runs 12 weeks and he’s hoping to expand the program’s reach.
“We do that in two ways: expand to another community and also provide statewide facilitator training,” he says.
For the past three years, the state of Iowa has provided money to finance this fatherhood program. Schwartz is asking lawmakers to boost the state funding by $20,000 for next year. According to the Y’s website, many of the Des Moines-area fathers who go through the program have been able to regain partial or full custody of their children.
Organizers say the Fatherhood Outreach program aims to teach what is means to be a father and the important role a father plays within a family.
(A previous version of this story cited a different batch of US Census Bureau data. This latest version cites data provided by the state’s Child Support Recovery Unit, indicating 67. 5 percent rather than 40 percent of child support owed it paid.)