Helping fathers to maintain a consistently positive presence in their children’s lives, Tom Swanciger, CEO of Father to Father, thrives to provide community-based programs and support groups for fathers, free of charge.
In order to fulfil their obligations and protect parental rights, fathers can connect with other services; this has been a significant contribution by the Father to Father organization. For the benefit of fathers, their families, and local employers, Father to Father Inc. provides job counseling and linkages to the workforce. The organization is also a resource for regional groups looking to offer services geared toward fathers and families.
Father to Father has helped more than 1,500 men, children, and families since it began. The organization has helped fathers reconnect with their children since its commencement in a closet adjacent to the kitchen at St. Peter’s Church, and it still does so today from its new location on Woodbine Avenue in North Charleston, SC.
The services provided by the program are specially created to assist men in mending damaged family and interpersonal bonds, engaging in healthy parenting, and finding gainful and stable employment.
In an exclusive interview with CIOLook, Tom Swanciger shares the challenges of running a non-profit organization and the overwhelmingly positive impact of their work.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
Brief our audience about your journey as a business leader until your current position at Father to Father. Inc. What challenges have you had to overcome to reach where you are today?
Being in the nonprofit sector for over 25 years, I have found that the biggest challenge is continuously finding different funding sources to keep the organization viable.
Tell us something more about Father to Father. Inc, and its mission and vision.
Our mission is to help fathers in the Low-country of South Carolina be positive and consistent figures in their children’s lives.
How we can help:
- We provide community-based programs and support groups for fathers, at no cost to them.
- We help fathers connect to other services they need so they can meet their responsibilities and secure their parental rights.
- We offer job coaching and employment connections that benefit fathers, their families, and employers in our communities.
- We’re a resource for local organizations that want to provide family support and father-friendly services.
We know engaged fathers are the best way to get to the root of problems that affect all of us—so that we can make real progress toward ending poverty, reducing crime and improving outcomes for children.
When fathers are engaged, children are:
- More likely to graduate from high school
- Less likely to go to jail
- Better positioned to be good parents themselves
We strive to help fathers better themselves, their relationships, and their understanding of how important a responsible, active father is in a child’s life. Building stronger families creates a better South Carolina for every citizen.
We always look for community partners who want to collaborate with us—from local law enforcement and family court judges to health clinics and churches who, like us, want to help fathers succeed.
Enlighten us on how you have impacted the Individual and Family Services industry through your expertise in the market.
What do fathers need to be successful parents and contributing family members?
A one-stop center for fathers with staff and offices close to where dads work and live.
We take a holistic approach to strengthening fathers and helping them overcome obstacles with a range of education, services and support that includes:
- A comprehensive fatherhood curriculum to teach the essentials of responsible fatherhood
- Employment coaching to help dads get jobs or find better paying jobs
- Help navigating the child support system
- Guidance on establishing paternity, visitation and other legal issues
- Peer group sessions that provide fathers with a safe space to talk and support each other
- Referrals for help with complex problems
- Mediation with the child’s mother and other family members
- Access to men’s healthcare education, screenings and referrals
- Assistance with transportation
- Ongoing connection with an experienced, supportive program staff
- Unique programs such as Jobs Not Jail, a way to catch up on child support obligations that is a successful alternative to incarceration
Many fathers face chronic health conditions and untreated problems, because they can’t afford treatment or don’t trust healthcare providers.
What methodologies do you implement that contribute to new growth opportunities?
Having a strong team is what propels us to grow and have great success. The Father to Father team is dedicated to our mission and what we do on a daily basis. They are well-versed and highly educated in all areas of Fatherhood and Youth Development. Their commitment to our organization is evident in the lives they change, which affords us the opportunity to continue to grow.
Our 24-week fatherhood program is one of the most important services we provide. Offered free to every participant, all the program requires is your commitment.
This program takes a holistic approach to helping men become the best fathers they can be and provides one-on-one coaching that helps each participant overcome his unique obstacles.
Core Content areas include:
- Employability Bootcamp
An intensive session that explores skill sets and career paths and helps fathers expand their networks, prepare resumes, and build interview skills to gain the jobs they want.
- Economic Mobility
Dads learn about increasing income, managing money, getting credit, navigating child support and addressing arrears.
- Healthy Relationships
Drawing on their personal histories, men build relationship skills that can improve life for their children and themselves.
Fathers learn how to enhance co-parenting skills and have positive roles in children’s lives—from providing structure and stability to establishing paternity and visitation rights.
- Men’s Health
Fathers learn how to manage their own physical and mental health, so they can thrive and model healthy behaviors for their children.
The One-Man Plan
Along with taking classes, each father in our program works individually with a staff member to create his own One Man Plan. In this plan, each father sets his goals and creates a road map for reaching them.
Peer Group Sessions
Peer groups are a place for fathers to share their frustrations, learn from other fathers and begin building a positive network of support.
We’ve learned from our work that many fathers feel alone in their struggles. Some men lack good role models for parenting, perhaps because they had no contact with their own fathers. We’ve also seen through our peer groups that fathers share many things in common and can be great resources for one another.
Undeniably, technology is playing a significant role in almost every sector. How are you leveraging technological advancements to make your solutions resourceful?
Father to Father is currently using new technology to actively fundraise within the community; we are utilizing social media to educate the community or who we are and what we do. We use a system designed to help fathers find their passion in terms of employment and, in turn, help them get into the careers they are seeking.
What, according to you, could be the next significant change in the Individual and Family Services sector? How is Father to Father. Inc, preparing to be a part of that change?
I believe the next shift in communities will be focusing on youth and the alternatives to detention programs, specifically here in South Carolina. Father to Father is currently working with both the Department of Juvenile Justice and the Charleston County Detention Center to teach youth in a new program called, Building Better Bridges. Building Better Bridges is the youth program targeting young men and women. It is designed to educate and inspire the youth to understand the importance of informed decision making, especially the choices that benefit their mental, physical, and economic health.
Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run, and what are your future goals for Father to Father. Inc?
Father to Father is constantly progressing. In the future, we look forward to establishing offices in Beaufort and Dorchester County. We are constantly increasing the number of people we are serving and getting valuable partnerships throughout the Low-Country of South Carolina.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the Individual and Family Services industry?
Be genuine, honest, and never over promise something you cannot deliver.