Are you a father or soon-to-be father looking for a stable job, worried about your finances, wanting to better connect with your children? Do you want to become their hero, but are struggling with the mother of your children and have barriers that keep you from reaching your goals? Well, look no further. There’s a program that caters to every one of these issues.
TEAM DAD is a federally funded responsible-fatherhood program offered in Cocke, Hamblen, Grainger, Jefferson, Monroe and sevier Counties.
This program focuses on lower-income fathers between the ages of 18 and 30. However, anyone living in the service area who would like to participate is eligible.
“The primary purpose of the program is to assist low income fathers toward economic self-sufficiency and improve parental involvement,” said program director Richard Beaty.
Every man who plays the role as a father knows that every father’s situation is different. This program allows these fathers to come together to bond and discuss their different situations.
A lot of the fathers in the program don't really have a place to go or any other friends they hang out with outside of their homes. Their spouses and children are all they really see and interact with on daily basis. A lot of then turn to television or video games as an outlet, but in a lot of cases the program helps out with this. The guys in the program are now in touch with guys just like them who they can lean on for help in their situations.
This program is a discussion group just for guys. Some of the topics include: What it Means to be a Man, Working with Mom, Communication, Dads and Work and Discipline. Fathering class is just one of the aspects of the program.
TEAM DAD also provides personalized career assistance for job seekers and helps with resume writing, interview tips and job searches.
“The program is really meant to be used a job coaching tool,” said Hamblen County staff member Desireé Drinnon. “We really try to make it as much not like a class for these men as possible.”
A lot of times, in the beginning these men are ordered to be enrolled into the program by the courts, but once they actually come and get involved they actually begin to enjoy it and want to keep coming back.
TEAM DAD also provides life-links to community resources as well. TEAM DAD works individually with dads to identify barriers or personal issues and provide connections to needed community services.
“The goal is for each participant in the program to have the greatest chance at achieving self-sufficiency,” said Beaty.
Every male is welcome to join this program. The services are free.
These services are available to all eligible persons, regardless of age, race, color, religion, national origin or disability.
TEAM DAD does offer assistance to Hispanic fathers as well. Sam Escobales, pictured below, originally from Fort Myers, Fla., is bilingual outreach director for TEAM DAD in Hamblen County. His main duty is to translate English to Spanish for the Hispanic fathers in the program. He also is in charge of giving the fathers advice and counseling.
Escobales feels that there are special challenges and some common situations that Hispanic fathers face in Northeast Tennessee. He feels that communication with children is the main problem that they face.
"Hispanic fathers in this area work a lot and don't get to spend a lot of time with their family," said Escobales.
The fathers in the area spend many hours away from the home due to their jobs. They work so many hours and come home and be too tired to even spend time with the family and go to bed usually because they have to get up and do the same thing the next day.
Escobales says that there are some ways that families can support fathers during these situations.
"Finding quality time and spending more time on days off will help support these fathers," said Escobales.
Escobales also feels like finding better jobs for these fathers also helps out as well.
Escobales loves his job and feels that his role is a veruy important role that actually makes a difference.
"There's a big need for dads out here today," said Escobales, "and its my job to coach these fathers on their needs.
TEAM DAD really understands the seriousness of this issue and puts forth every effort to play a part in changing these statistic as best as they can.
“TEAM DAD produces champion fathers,” said Beaty, “because every time a dad wins, so does a kid.”