(Memphis) For the first time ever, Memphis will host an international fatherhood conference.
Here in the Mid-South, we have some of the highest rates of fatherless homes.
In some neighborhoods, 85 percent of households don't have fathers, and the conference hopes to change that.
The main goal of this conference is get more people involved in the fatherhood movement.
Organizers believe the more responsible men we can create in Memphis, the less crime we will have.
For Makala, a 4-year-old girl, her shirt talks about her 'dad,' yet she doesn't really know who he is.
“Does he participate? Does he call? Does he do anything?” asked reporter Sabrina Hall
“No,” said Makala's mother, Shanterella Bush.
It’s a story repeated many times over in Memphis where in some neighborhoods, it’s more common to not have a father than to have one.
“I would say that we are in a fatherless state,” said Oliver Williams, a pastor with the Hope Center at Grace.
Williams has been working one-on-one with men for years, hoping to get them to stand up and be fathers.
Now his mission is getting backed up by hundreds of people coming to Memphis in June.
Professionals from all over the country will share what they've learned in their efforts to get fathers engaged in their children's lives.
Across the country and across all races, 24 million households are without fathers.
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, those without fathers often repeat that same cycle with their children.
Girls without fathers are more likely to end up pregnant as teenagers, and fatherless men are 20 times more likely to end up in prison.
“I would say that a child that grows up without their father, they grow up with a void and it is a very difficult one to fill,” said Williams.
William believes the more stand-up fathers we can create in Memphis, the better our entire community will be.
“Fathers matter,” said Williams.
As for Shanterella Bush and her 4-year-old girl, she says they're moving on without him.
“We just keep going and doing what we do,” said Bush.
The fatherhood conference will be at the Memphis Hilton between June 3 and 6. There are free workshops open to the public.
You can learn more by going to www.npclstrongfamalies.org.