Nonprofit Spotlight: Fathers and Families Support Center

Fathers and Families Support Center (FFSC) fosters healthy relationships by strengthening families and communities. FFSC has served nearly 19,000 fathers and over 46,000 children in 24 years.

2021 Father of the Year Video

FFSC’s core Family Formation Program is a six-week, full-day, full-immersion transformational program. Participants—20% are mothers—are taught a variety of parenting and life skills that result in better opportunities for themselves, and brighter futures for their children. 

The Family Formation program focuses heavily on coparenting. “Just because we are not together as a couple doesn’t mean we can’t be good parents,” said Lawrence Tate, a Family Formation Program participant. “Fathers and Families Support Center taught me how to be a responsible dad, while remaining respectful of the mother of my children and ensuring our boys have both parents in their lives.” 

Program curriculum also touches upon personal development, child abuse and neglect prevention, financial literacy, family bonding experiences, and more. Many program facilitators were once program participants themselves. Eighty percent of FFSC graduates report that learning positive parenting skills increased interaction with their children. 

“So many parents that come in did not grow up with two parents,” said Sid Officer, Development and Communications Manager. “They use the parenting tools that were handed down to them, passing on generational issues. Our programs benefit the children of our community through their parents.” 

During the final two weeks, participants are prepared for employment opportunities. FSCC provides participants with the foundation needed for a successful job interview, from resume building to learning how to shake hands. 

Existing relationships between FFSC and local businesses connect participants with employment opportunities. FFSC also focuses on employment retention training skills culminating in job placement. Despite the national pandemic, 406 participants agency-wide obtained or maintained employment in 2021. The average wage that FFSC participants earned in 2021 was over $14, compared to the state’s minimum wage of $10.30. 

Toyea, a 49-year-old father of six, graduated from the Family Formation in 2012 after being incarcerated for years. While enrolled in the program, Toyea talked about his past through one-on-one counseling, group mentoring, and trauma informed care services. Along with parenting education, Toyea learned how to co-parent with the mother of his children. Today, Toyea is a doting grandfather involved in his children’s lives. 

 “Anything is possible if you want it bad enough,” said Toyea. “The love for my kids and family forced me to make serious changes. So, I finally asked for help, and Fathers and Families Support Center was there.” 

Charles Barnes, Director of Community Outreach, worked with Toyea. “During these last nine years, there were many ups and downs for Toyea, but he stayed the course and now reaps the benefits of his labor. I am proud that I have had the opportunity to know him as a man and father. He represents the characteristics of what Fathers and Families Support Center stands for.” 

Family Formation Program graduates receive support services for at least one year. The Father’s Rap program provides supportive services for alumni and builds a powerful brotherhood based on trust and shared experiences. The Father’s Rap works to address what Officer calls a “misconception that fathers do not need help.” 

FFSC’s holistic approach is nationally recognized in federal studies and is considered a model program of its type by the US Department of Health and Human Services. “We’ve proven that our system is working. No other program is as long, rigorous, and well-rounded,” said Officer. 

Additionally, FFSC offers legal services to clients and helped the state of Missouri collect over $1.1 million in child support in 2021. FFSC’s re-entry project works with fathers who are incarcerated at the Transition Center of St. Louis. Fathers who graduate from FFSC’s programs have a recidivism (repeated offense) rate between three and six percent; the national average rate is 20 percent. 

FFSC is a United Way Member Agency and is part of the 0.01% of nonprofits in Missouri to have full recognition from the National Council on Accreditation, which shows adherence to the highest standards in client services, outcomes, record keeping, and accountability. 

Click here to learn more about how you can support Fathers and Families. 

Fathers and Families Support Center is a Give STL Day participant. Give STL Day, powered by the St. Louis Community Foundation and returns on May 5.