ACF Region II Celebrates Fatherhood!

Over 230 parents and professionals gathered on June 19, 2012 for the fourth annual “Celebrating Fatherhood!” Conference, sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families, Region II. Occurring the week after Father’s Day, the one-day event is designed to recognize the unique importance of fathers in the lives of their children.

Research indicates that positive paternal involvement is associated with improvements in children’s academic performance, cognitive development, behavior, psychosocial development, health and more. This year’s theme – Together: Creating Paths for Family Success – was a fitting description of the networking and education that took place during the two plenary sessions and ten workshops during the day. 

Ron Ashford, Director for Public Housing Supportive Services at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development opened the morning plenary session with comments about the interaction between supportive services, fathers, and the faith-based community. Mr. Ashford went on to moderate a panel discussion including Rabbi Edward Kaminetsky (Congregation Ohav Emeth – Highland Park, NY) and Minister Onario Chapparo (Christian Cultural Center – Brooklyn, NY).  Opening remarks were also given by Dr. Jaime Torres – Regional Director for the US Department of Health and Human Services, Joyce A. Thomas – Regional Administrator for the Administration for Children and Families, and Edward Lawson – Director of Social Media and Outreach for the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (pictured below).

Ed Lawson speaks at Celebrating FatherhoodThroughout the day, participants interacted with almost 20 exhibitors from federal, state, city, and nonprofit agencies. Participants also attended workshops that addressed a range of issues related to responsible fatherhood and featured recognized speakers and leaders in the field. Topics included housing, criminal justice, the family court system, relationship skills, money management, healthcare careers, men’s health, and more.

The conference concluded with a dynamic closing plenary moderated by the New York City Mayor’s Fatherhood Services Coordinator, Alan Farrell. The panel, “Fathers Voices:  Where is your footprint?” included four fathers that each brought a unique perspective and story. Two older fathers spoke about their experiences parenting over the years and as professionals leading father-serving agencies. Two younger fathers spoke of hurt, life on the street, and dropping out of school. They spoke of never losing sight of their dreams and how the birth of their child was one of the most important moments in their lives. Today, each has finished school, is employed, connected to their children and connected to strong fatherhood programs.

In closing the conference, planning Co-Chair Judith Albury, ACF Office of Child Support Enforcement, shared proclamations commemorating responsible fatherhood from the Governor of the US Virgin Islands and the Governor of Puerto Rico.