Since 2002, DYCD has been committed to enhancing children’s development through programs that encourage fathers to become personally involved with their children and relate to their co-parents. DYCD’s Fatherhood Initiative helps fathers reconnect with their children and develop essential parenting skills by helping each participant (1) increase engagement and responsibility in his relationship with his child/children; and (2) provide material and financial support to his child/children. DYCD’s program is informed by research showing that children with involved fathers are less likely to get into trouble at home, school, or in the neighborhood, and that an active and nurturing style of fathering is associated with better verbal skills for infants, greater patience for toddlers, and better intellectual functioning and academic achievement among adolescents.
DYCD has three program options to address the particular needs of the target populations: young fathers aged 16 – 24 years; fathers aged over 24 years, and fathers with prior involvement in the criminal justice system. Programs help fathers by providing them and their children with up to six months of case management, with follow-up services as needed for up to one year, and service plans that address five core areas: parenting skills development, effective co-parenting with the child’s guardian; employment/education; child support; child visitation/placement.
Specific support services include:
- Parenting skills classes
- Individual and family counseling
- Mediation and conflict resolution training
- Assistance with issues related to child support and arranging child visitation
- Father-to-father mentoring
- HSE, ESOL, and other educational referrals
- Employment counseling and referrals
The circumstances confronting non-custodial fathers must be addressed in order to empower them to establish a positive, healthy, supportive relationship with their children. These can include: reconciling the conflicting roles of adolescence and fatherhood, and completing school or finding entry-level employment; surmounting challenges such as chronic unemployment, homelessness, or poor health; and addressing particular difficulties resulting from long-term absence due to cycles of incarceration, reentry, and recidivism.