FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 14, 2012
MAYOR BLOOMBERG HOSTS RECEPTION TO HONOR OUTSTANDING NEW YORK CITY FATHERS WITH SPECIAL GUEST HENRIK LUNDQVIST AT 2012 DADS MATTER AWARDS
Fatherhood Initiative Announces Three New Programs to Support Dads As They Positively Engage in their Children's Lives
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda I. Gibbs and Citywide Fatherhood Services Coordinator Alan S. Farrell today honored ten fathers from across New York City at the 2012 Dads Matter event at Gracie Mansion. Mayor Bloomberg was joined by New York Ranger Henrik Lundqvist to celebrate the two year anniversary of the Mayor’s Fatherhood Initiative, NYC Dads. The Mayor also announced three new programs to increase opportunities for New York City fathers and their children: The Parent Pledge Project, a non-mandated child support agreement program; The Fatherhood Academy at CUNY’s LaGuardia Community College, a free five-month, three day a week program to help fathers with education and work opportunities along with parenting, health, and financial literacy courses and Fatherhood support groups for homeless fathers to help them encourage one another on the road to self sufficiency and independence. The Mayor was joined for the announcement by Human Resources Administration Commissioner Robert Doar, Administration for Children’s Services Commissioner Ronald E. Richter, Department for Youth and Community Development Commissioner Jeanne B. Mullgrav and Commissioner for Citywide Administrative Services Edna Wells Handy.
“Today we recognize fathers who have overcome obstacles to remain engaged in their children’s lives,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Children with the financial and emotional support of two parents are more likely to perform well in school, achieve financial stability and avoid involvement in the criminal justice system and the City’s new initiatives aim to build even stronger father-child connections.”
“On Sunday, children and families throughout the five boroughs and across our City will celebrate Father’s day to recognize and thank the men who have helped shape their lives,” said Deputy Mayor Gibbs. “In recognition of the profound role fathers play in mentoring, guiding and transforming the lives of their children, we launched the NYC DADS Initiative – a major new effort to get city fathers more proactively involved. Tonight, we are proud to recognize a special group of fathers who have epitomized the best values our City has to offer, and pay tribute to the invaluable support they provide.”
“President Obama knows the vital role fathers play in the lives of our children,” said Joshua DuBois, Special Assistant to the President and Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. “But all of us have a stake in forming stronger bonds between fathers and their children. We are proud of this year's recipients of the Dads Matter Awards and we celebrate the important work that New York City is doing to address the crisis of fatherlessness by making sure every child has a safe, loving home.”
“As part of the Young Men’s Initiative, our City agencies continue to work to strengthen the families of our black and Latino young men,” said Citywide Fatherhood Services Coordinator Farrell. “We will continue to work to build a more father-friendly City and make our support and engagement of fathers even more explicit. Today, we celebrate fathers who continue love their children while serving their families and communities.”
“NYC’s Child Support Enforcement Office is a nationally recognized anti-poverty program that last year collected almost three quarters of a billion dollars for 250 thousand children,” said HRA Commissioner Robert Doar. “Our goal is to help children and The Parent Pledge Project is based on the fact that a more harmonious relationship between parents will lead to better outcomes for their child. By encouraging both parents to become active participants in their child’s well-being, we strengthen the bonds of parent and child and reaffirm our commitment to NYC families.”
“Engagement of fathers is so important to New York City’s children and families, and has a tremendous impact on the thousands of young people that we serve,” said ACS Commissioner Richter. “ACS has implemented numerous strategies to ensure that the fathers we encounter are involved in the lives of their children. Building on Mayor Bloomberg’s Fatherhood Initiative NYC, these three new programs will greatly support fathers and strengthen families.”
“Because we know that a father’s involvement can be critically important in the development of a young person, since 2002 DYCD has supported programming to help non-custodial fathers reconnect with their children and actively participate in their lives both emotionally and financially,” said DYCD Commissioner Mullgrav. “I am delighted to see the progress we have made in making New York City more father-friendly, and inspired by the men being recognized here today.”
“To see these men come together to create memories with their children as they work to move their families back to the community where they can all live stably together is truly remarkable,” said Homeless Services Commissioner Seth Diamond. “Their goals are honorable and we will work with them in every way possible to assist them as they improve their fatherhood skills.”
The ten 2012 Dads Matter honorees were chosen from more than 170 nominated fathers, submitted from individuals, city agencies and community programs in the five boroughs. The selected fathers – who range from City Employees to youth mentors and community organizers – include NYPD’s Police Officer Seargent Jovita Richardson’s father Lascoe Richardson. Richardson arrived in Harlem from South Carolina as a teenager with $28 in his pocket, and through a combination of hard work and determination, earned his High School Diploma, established himself financially and settled in Queens to raise his family. Lascoe served the New York City Transit Authority for over 23 years and has been a pillar in his community, founding businesses and a block association.
Also being recognized is Department of Citywide Administrative Services employee Juan Beltran, who moved to Brooklyn from Puerto Rico as a child. Juan works extra hours at his job at the Department of Citywide Administrative Services to ensure that his wife can care for their children while continuing her own education. In addition to his career in public service and devoting time to his children and family, he has served many hours as an auxiliary police officer.
In June of 2010, Mayor Bloomberg launched the Citywide Fatherhood Initiative to strengthen New York City families by helping fathers be active in their children’s lives. Fourteen City agencies (the Administration for Children’s Services, City University of New York, Department for the Aging, Department of Corrections, Department of Education, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Health and Hospitals Corporation, Department of Homeless Services, NYC Housing Authority, Human Resources Administration, NYPD’s Community Affairs Bureau, Department of Parks and Recreation, Department of Probation and the Department of Youth & Community Development) were directed to form a task force – the Fatherhood Initiative Working Group – to review their policies and practices to make sure fathers are not unintentionally excluded from or missing opportunities to engage in their children’s lives. The task force was charged with creating opportunities within each agency and through interagency collaborations to support fathers as they increase their capacity to be good dads. NYC Dads’ new initiatives are a result of these robust cross-agency collaborations.
The Parent Pledge Project, a partnership between the Mayor’s Office, New York City Human Resources Administration, the New York State Family Court, and community based organizations The Door, Children’s Aid Society, St. Paul Community Baptist Church and Community Mediation Services, is a program for fathers to acknowledge their responsibilities to their children by choosing to enter into an agreement for child support. It will allow parents to create child support and parenting agreements in a comfortable community-based setting and is intended to create a positive environment for parents to talk about how they will support their children.
The Parent Pledge Project is different from any other similar co-parenting program in the nation because agreements are prepared in the community and facilitated by a trained mediator, it makes co-parenting issues an integral part of the conversation, it connects parents to parenting classes and it is not subject to enforcement tools such as license suspension and seizing of bank accounts. In many cities, child support programs are entirely administrative in nature. Even in some states like Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Oregon, Texas, and Alaska, where parents are given an opportunity for a pre-order face-to-face meeting in a less formal setting, all Non Custodial Parents (NCP) who fail to pay their child support are subject to enforcement tools. The Parent Pledge Project would give parents the opportunity to request HRA’s Office of Child Support Enforcement’s services if the NCP does not comply with the agreement and efforts at resolving the issue through mediation have not succeeded.
The Department of Homeless Services has developed Fatherhood Support Groups in 10 family shelters and three adult sites, conducted by caseworkers and shelter staff in evening hours. The support groups goals are: increase fathers' involvement in their families; encourage men to obtain employment and transition to independent living; improve levels of self-confidence among men in shelter and; assist in the creation of memorable moments between fathers and their children. The program’s first 16 sessions were held between January and April this year. The graduation ceremony honoring the over 1,000 men in shelter who participated in the program was held in May.
Many fathers discussed what the groups had meant to them, speaking of the ways in which it provided them with an outlet where they shared commonalities, especially with all residing in shelter. They spoke of their common goals of trying to move back to the community with their families and working to support their children. One man said of the support group, "I knew how to be a father before, but now I know how to be a dad."
Additionally, the City University of New York (CUNY) has launched the Fatherhood Academy at LaGuardia Community College where, for the first time, CUNY will prepare 18-24 year old fathers for employment and for entry into higher education. By connecting young fathers to services on a college campus, the Fatherhood Academy will strengthen fathers and families and promote responsible fatherhood and economic stability,
The Mayor also announced a new NYC DADS Tumblr page at nycdads.tumblr.org which, along with the initiative’s website at www.nyc.gov and its Facebook page, provides resource for dads in an online collaborative environment. Using these digital resources, fathers can find opportunities through city agencies and their community partners to access vital support services that can help improve their capacity to be good parents. It also helps fathers locate free and low cost activities and events to enjoy with their children. The new Tumblr page currently features stories promoting last year’s Dads Matter Awardees, community events, a NYC Dads book pick and tips on healthy eating, navigating family court and good parenting practices. The page also links to photos of last year's Father's Day Celebration at Gracie Mansion.
Stu Loeser / Samantha Levine (212) 788-2958
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