GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) – Fathers who aren’t active in their children’s lives are costing taxpayers millions. That’s according to state auditor Shad White.
“Just a ton of different social problems that result from a lack of two parents in the home,” White said.
Fatherless children are less likely to obtain a high school diploma. The new report the auditor revealed shows taxpayers will likely lose $560 million due to them dropping out of school during the 2021-2022 school year alone.
“When you don’t have an engaged father in the home, children are more likely to go to prison, especially young boys,” he added. “Teenage girls are more likely to become pregnant. Children are less likely to have good health outcomes.”
Fatherless boys are more likely to go to prison, and 90% of folks incarcerated are men. Mississippians are paying an estimated $180 million each year to house them. Gulfport High School head football coach and assistant principal John Archie is doing his part to help fix that, leading a group called “Men of Standard.”
“We are identifying our most at-risk young men,” Archie said. “We target them to try and keep them in school and keep them on track to graduate. That involves mentoring. We have several community members who help out with that project.”
The Coast administrator said the program has helped re-direct many who were headed in the wrong direction.
“We’ve seen a young man that I completely kicked off the football team,” he recalled. “Now he’s on a football scholarship in Virginia. Another young man came by to visit last week who was constantly in trouble. Now he’s a sophomore in college.”
Archie is passionate about reaching youth and creating more success stories.
“I was raised by a single parent,” Archie said. “My coaches and administrators did not give up on me after I made a mistake. I was kicked out of school my sophomore year, but I was still welcomed back after I did my time at the alternative school. We don’t give up on kids. We can’t give up, but they have to meet us halfway. We can point you in the right direction. We want it for them, but they have to want it for themselves, too.”
It’s not just the boys. Girls without active fathers are more likely to be teen mothers than girls whose dads are involved. Taxpayers likely spent over $50 million on costs like increased foster care as a result of fatherless teen mothers in 2019 alone.