Fatherhood class makes strides with non-custodial parents

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The State of Kansas has a few programs to help any non-custodial parents struggling with their child’s support payments.

One option is through different classes offered to those parents.

KSN spoke with one father who hasn’t only benefited from the program, but he has started giving back to future participants.

“To me, I feel like I’m a leader so why would I follow down the path of the next person that I know is not doing something productive or positive?” asked Michael Ralston.

Ralston was born and raised in Wichita, but he says he didn’t have a relationship with his dad. Instead, he was raised by the streets.

“If you don’t have a father, I mean that’s, it’s a sad situation because everybody is looking for that love,” he said.

After years or being in and out of jail, Ralston needed a change.

“It’s only going to lead to one of two places; prison, forever, or dead,” he said.

That change came one day at the Sedgwick County Courthouse when he was handed a flier for a fatherhood class.

“(The class) helps the guys realize the importance of their role,” said Kelly O’Malia, who runs the class.

The fatherhood class is called Deliberately Different and she runs it on her own dime.

It’s voluntary and free for any non-custodial parents who owe the state and there’s an incentive to have money taken off participants’ state arrears.

Asking for help is the only way to get help, Ralston said.

Now, he’s teaching the class that helped turn his life around.

“I go home and I sleep real good every night so you know what I’m sayin’, I have no complaints about it,” he said.

“He sat through the six weeks, learned and he received a certificate and he sat through six more weeks of training, got a little bit more training, and now he’s teaching,” O’Malia said.

Ralston hopes other people can learn from his experience.

“Every father needs to tend to his kids, period,” he said. “We can’t let the state do it, we can’t let the juvenile justice system do it, we can’t do anything like that. We need to do it ourselves.”