Monday, March 8, 2010

Attorney General focuses on the importance of fatherhood initiatives

It's time to change our ways. In NYS, when a person is incarcerated, the policy has been to send them to a prison far from home and make them earn their way back. An unintended consequence -- weakening the bond between fathers and their children -- bad news for everyone including the community.

OJJDP News @ a Glance - January/February 2010: "'More than 1.5 million American children have fathers in prison,' the Attorney General noted in his address, 'And we know that children of incarcerated parents suffer from the physical and emotional separation, the stigma associated with having a parent detained, the loss of financial support, and the disruption caused by introducing new caregivers into a child's life.'

Approximately 700,000 people return to their communities from prison every year. However, only a small percentage of these people receive any help preparing for their return. Research reveals that incarcerated men who maintain strong family ties while behind bars are more successful when they are released. They have an easier time finding jobs and staying off drugs. In fact, a recent study done for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that people who were married or in committed relationships were half as likely to use drugs or commit new crimes after they returned to their communities. Family connections—and responsible and engaged parenting—improve public safety."

We're glad to see that OJJDP has initiated funding for demonstration projects to strengthen that link between incarcerated people and their families -- especially their children.

How does the portrayal of dads in the media impact kids? March 31, 2010

Join us for the next session of the Hudson Valley Fatherhood Alliance staff development series.

Considering the number of children growing up with fathers absent from their homes, NYS OTDA funded a study to assess the impact media fathers have in constructing children's perceptions of fatherhood.

The study showed that sitcom fathers demonstrate greater guidance, general support and acceptance than do real fathers, indicating the need to provide a forum to explore the complex view of real family life and move away from the often unrealistic portrayal found in the media.

NYS OTDA has released a DVD and training curriculum, Perceptions of Fathers in the Media, In Search of the Ideal Father, to assist service providers in facilitating conversations around a more reality based image of fathers in American society. Ken Braswell will share some of the material from that study and the training curriculum with us this month.

Join us -- This free session is open to human services professionals, the media, fathers, and the general public over age 15, compliments of the Hudson Valley Fatherhood Alliance and the City of Newburgh Youth Bureau --

Wednesday, March 31, 2010
3:00 pm

Perceptions of Fathers in the Media
Presented by
Kenneth Braswell, Director
NYS Fatherhood Initiative

City of Newburgh Recreation Department Activity Center
401 Washington Street
Newburgh, NY

RSVP required: or 845-883-6060

Monday, March 1, 2010

How "Father-Friendly" is your agency?


As agencies supported by community donations and tax dollars we have an obligation to pay attention to the research. Children do better when they have two parents who love and care for them. Those parents don't need to be in the same household, but they do need to collaborate to ensure their children grow up healthy and resilient.

Far a long time now we've focused on mothers -- reaching out to them, supporting them, engaging them. Now we wonder, where are the fathers? It's time to take a look at the messages, overt and unintended, that we send to fathers. Are we welcoming them? Do we make it easy for them to participate? How do we communicate with them?

We've posted some tools to help agencies take a look at their "father-friendliness." We hope they get the conversations started at your agency.

Meet the OCFS Fatherhood Team

Greg Owens, Janice Bibb-Jones, Robert Foulks, & Renee Bradley

On January 21st the Hudson Valley Fatherhood Alliance hosted the Fatherhood Team from OCFS.

The NYS Office of Children and Family Services has a number of initiatives underway to provide resources and incentives for dads -- some dealing with engaging the fathers of the children under their care and others helping teen fathers in their care explore the meaning of fathering.

We expect to see more of these folks over the next year. Robert is working with a group of fathers at the Highland Center which has been in the news lately. Christine has offered to provide a grant writing workshop later this spring.

You can read more about their work on their website.

This workshop is one in a series the Alliance is organizing to help agencies increase focus on strengthening fatherhood within the context of the programs we already offer.

P.S. -- here's a simple strategy that Renee shared. Take lots of pictures of fathers with their children. Many non-custodial fathers have no pictures of themselves with their children and the visual reminder seems to help them re-engage.