The Difference a Dad Makes: The 2019 New York Fathering Conference and Improving Economic Mobility

Joyce Thomas welcomes attendees to conference
Regional Administrator Joyce A. Thomas welcomed attendees to the 5th annual New York Fathering Conference.

"Helping fathers realize their dreams and goals for a better future can be a powerful part of an overall strategy to improve the economic mobility of children and families," according to Joyce A. Thomas, Regional Administrator of the Region 2 office of the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In 2019, Ms. Thomas again joined Westchester County and City of White Plains officials to welcome participants to the fifth annual New York Fathering Conference held on Tuesday, September 24, 2019 at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, NY. Ms. Thomas spoke about fatherhood and ACF’s priorities on economic mobility and prevention.

2019 New York Fathering Conference program
2019 New York Fathering Conference program

The theme of the 2019 conference was "The Difference a Dad Makes: In the Family, In the Community and In the Workplace.” Following her welcoming remarks, Ms. Thomas introduced the keynote speaker, Patrick Patterson, CEO of Global Partners for Fathers and Families, LLC. Mr. Patterson delivered a riveting and engaging presentation celebrating the power and impact of fathers.

Three panel discussions completed the morning activities. Each panel expanded on one of the three key topics of this year’s conference: Dads in the Family, Dads in the Workplace and Dads in the Community. During the afternoon, attendees could attend two of fifteen workshops expanding on the key topics. Throughout the day, 210 conference participants had the opportunity to hear from each other, fathers, employers, educators, and representatives of public, private, faith based and community organizations that work with fathers.

In support of the conference theme, representatives from Hostos Community College, C.U.N.Y. and Montefiore Medical Center-University Behavioral Associates (UBA), two organizations operating Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) programs administered by ACF, delivered a joint presentation highlighting career opportunities for men in health care. The workshop, titled "Your Career in Health Care," featured HPOG administrators, an employer and an HPOG program participant. Health care is a growing and vital sector of the U.S. economy that holds many career opportunities for fathers. HPOG provides education and training to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients and other low-income individuals for health care occupations that pay well and are in high demand. HPOG participants are given the opportunity to obtain higher education, training and support services needed to secure positions that have potential for advancement, sustainability, and financial self-sufficiency.

Through its session titled “Building Healthy Relationships,” Montefiore Medical Center-UBA-Supporting Healthy Relationships, an ACF Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education Demonstration Grant recipient, illuminated “the difference a Dad makes in the family.” Other sessions focusing on economic mobility included presentations about preparing for job interviews, entrepreneurship, meeting the needs of employers and job seekers, career pathways and how employers can work with prospective employees who have significant challenges to finding employment.

Planning committee members for the 2019 New York Fathering Conference hailed from a wide variety of faith and community organizations, as well as federal, county and municipal government agencies. Planners included representatives of the Administration for Children and Families; the Office of the Westchester County Executive; the Westchester County Department of Social Services; the Westchester-Putnam Workforce Development Board; the Youth Bureaus of Westchester County, White Plains and Mt. Vernon; the Greenburgh Department of Community Relations; Child Find of America, Inc.; Family and Community Engagement Services, Inc.; Family Services of Westchester; Nepperhan Community Center; the Ministers’ Fellowship Council of White Plains and Vicinity; Working Churches of Westchester County and Vicinity and the Stronger Families New York coalition.

Ms. Thomas and ACF Region 2 have been pleased to play a valuable role in conference planning and implementation since the first New York Fathering Conference in 2015. Conference planners and participants are already looking forward to the 2020 New York Fathering Conference!

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