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Program offers help for struggling fathers

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ATLANTA -

Fathers who need a little help meeting their financial obligations to their children are getting it. The Georgia Fatherhood Program is a state-run program that gives dads the tools they need to be better fathers.

The program addresses the underlying issues that cause non-custodial fathers to fall behind in paying child support. Justin Roberts was one of those fathers that needed help.

Roberts can still remember the days his two oldest children were born.

"They told me it was going to be a girl. He came out sunny side up, it's a boy. Two years later, here comes my little girl. She came out Christmas Eve, truly a Christmas present," said Roberts.

But life for Roberts took an ugly turn. He lost his job and the relationship between Roberts and the mother of his children ended, leaving him worried.

"It was hard. Sad...wondering how I was going to get my kids. How I was going to take care of them after I lost my job?" said Roberts.

He fell behind in child support payments and rarely saw his children. But he says the Georgia Fatherhood Program turned everything around.

"If they're having trouble keeping a job, we help them with their resume, their interview skills. If they need to improve their education to get a better job to make more money, to be able to fully pay the child support, we can provide them short term training and education improvement," said Blue Cole of the Georgia Fatherhood Program.

Roberts is now employed full-time as a mechanic and paying child support. Most importantly, he says he's become a better father, spending more time with his children. He's now a stepfather to three and has a new baby girl. Being a father is the full-time job he says he'll always treasure.

"I love my kids to death. They are so happy to be around me and I'm happy to be around them," Roberts said.

"We realize that there is so much that a father can offer to a child, or a mother. Not only financial, but also emotional and mental well-being of their child," said Cole.

Last month, 169 fathers graduated from the program. That means they've all been working and paying child support for at least 120 days. For more information on the Georgia Fatherhood Program, click here.

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