Region 2 Celebrates Fatherhood!

“When it comes to fathers, our vision is for every parent to be actively engaged in his child’s healthy development and intellectual, emotional and financial well-being.”                 
                         - Joyce A. Thomas, ACF Regional Administrator, Region 2

ACF's Region 2 Family Strengthening Workgroup hosted Celebrating Fatherhood! 2014 on Tuesday, June 24, 2014 in New York, NY.  This year’s theme, “Building the Future with Fathers and Families,” emphasized the importance of working with fathers and practitioners to achieve the best possible outcomes.

Following welcoming remarks from Dr. Jaime R. Torres, Regional Director for the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Dr. Michelle S. Davis, Regional Administrator for the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for (OASH), introduced this year’s keynote speaker, Mr. Shawn Dove of the Open Society Foundations’ Campaign for Black Male Achievement.  Open Society Foundations is one of the original sponsors of President Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper,” a joint effort involving government, philanthropy, the corporate sector, and faith-based and advocacy organizations.  My Brother’s Keeper, announced in February 2014, is an initiative to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential.  Learn more about My Brother’s Keeper.

Topics featured at Celebrating Fatherhood! 2014 breakout sessions were father-focused and relevant to the needs of contemporary fathers and families.  Speakers represented a wide range of government and non-government organizations.  Workshop subjects included men’s health, which incorporated updates about the Affordable Care Act and coverage to care.  Other issues explored were:   fathers and the child welfare system, defining career and life goals, entrepreneurship, healthy interpersonal relationships, creating learning opportunities for children, personal finances, emergency preparedness and human trafficking.

The closing session of the symposium highlighted the unique challenges faced by young fathers.  Ms. Elba Montalvo, founder, president and CEO of the Committee for Hispanic Children and Families, Inc. (CHCF); moderated a panel that included representatives of New York City’s Office of the Mayor, the State of New Jersey Department of Children and Families, Division of Family and Community Partnerships; the Leaguers, Inc. Head Start program and the CHCF Responsible Fatherhood Program.

Planners and participants are already looking forward to the next event!  No doubt about it, fathers are important and, in the words of President Obama, “.  .  .  there’s nothing more precious in the life than the time we spend with our children.  There’s no better feeling than knowing that we can be there for them, and provide for them, and help give them every shot at success.  Let’s make sure every dad who works hard and takes responsibility has the chance to know that feeling .  .  .”

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