Positively Chicago: Making Better Dads

(CBS) — They’re young, between the ages of 17 and 24, but all of them are fathers.

This week, they graduated from a program teaching them how to be the best dads they can be.

On this Fathers Day weekend, CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports on the Dovetail Project, where he met Corey Lennore and his son, Corey Jr.

“He means everything. He’s the reason why I wake up every day,” Lennore says of his child.

Still, Corey Sr. says he wanted to learn how to be the best father he could be.

“I always think there’s room for improvement. I’m not perfect, and I could really benefit from this program,” he says.

The Dovetail Project has been a godsend, he says: “I’ve never been around so many young black men my age without drama.”

The program’s goal is to give young African American fathers — some of them are teenagers — the guidance they need to take care of their children.

Seventy-two percent of African-American children grow up in single-parent households, Executive Director Sheldon Smith says.

He created Dovetail  Project seven years ago.

“When fathers aren’t involved, the likelihood and outcomes around children being successful or being incarcerated or failing in school and teen pregnancy — all of that data skyrockets,” Smith says.

Facilitator Vernon Owens covers a lot of ground in 12 weeks. He advises students on all aspects of child care. Dovetail connects the young men to education and job training so that they can provide for their sons and daughters.

“They get a stipend, a job, GED or a trade once they complete the program,” Smith says.

Lennore says they also get something else from one another: encouragement.  “We motivate each other. We do job searches together. It’s a great thing,” he says.

At Dovetail Project, every day is Father’s Day.

Since 2010, nearly 300 young men have been through the program.

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