A significant component of the City of New York Parks & Recreation’s (NYC Parks) mission is to provide clean and safe green spaces for New Yorkers and visitors to enjoy. NYC Parks maintains 29,000 acres of land in NYC with 14 miles of beaches, 1,000 playgrounds, 31 Recreation Centers, 14 nature centers and over 900 athletic fields, all areas where families (including fathers) can have free to low-cost bonding experiences with their children.
Since 1994, NYC Parks has also provided workforce development services to public assistance recipients through hands-on work experience. The Parks Opportunity Program (POP) is one of the nation’s largest transitional employment programs. POP trainees have the opportunity to participate in Dads to Grads, an education initiative that supports fathers in their pursuit of a GED by providing education classes where dads study and prepare for the GED exam through a contextualized curriculum that focuses on parenting issues and life skills. Additionally, non-custodial fathers receive further support through POP Works, which provides parenting workshops, child support education, extensive case management, specialized workshops (provided by external legal, family court, and mediation experts), and peer support. The fathers are connected early on to HRA’s Office of Child Support Enforcement, which provides additional support through monthly workshops and individualized order management sessions. The bedrock of POP Works is the Responsible Fatherhood Curriculum, a nationally recognized curriculum which presents facilitated discussion on topics in the following categories: personal development, life skills, responsible fatherhood, relationships, and healthy lifestyles.
Additionally, the Urban Parks Rangers offers a variety of family-friendly recreational activities throughout the boroughs, including camping trips, hikes, puppets shows, gardening events, scavenger hunts and games. This past year also featured an 8-session “Daddy and Me Adventure” program, in which fathers and their children were provided with recreational programs designed to create bonding and engagement opportunities for fathers and their children.
For more information about Parks, the POP program and Urban Parks Rangers click here.