Serving Fathers Has Multi-Generational Implications - Telling Fatherhood Has its World Premiere
by Barbara L. Andrews,
Administration for Children and Families
Immediate Office of the Regional Administrator
During the past few years, you may have heard about how human service programs are taking a whole family or multi-generational approach to increasing family economic mobility. These approaches ask you to consider weaving in ways to serve the needs of children and their parents. Multi-generational concerns and strategies are certainly not new to child support. The Administration for Children and Families' Office of Child Support Enforcement and child support programs throughout the country recognize the importance of both parents having loving, nurturing relationships with their children and being actively involved in their lives. Child support programs have a legacy of being attentive to fathers through their everyday efforts and special initiatives like the development of Telling Fatherhood, Digital Stories by New York City Fathers.
"Powerful," "touching" and "inspiring" are three adjectives that came to mind when I viewed Telling Fatherhood, Digital Stories by New York City Fathers, on Friday, January 26, 2018, as part of a celebration of fathers and fatherhood, sponsored by the New York City Human Resources Administration's Office of Child Support Services and the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, a senior college of the City University of New York. An enthusiastic and supportive audience of one hundred fathers, human services professionals, academics, advocates and students were on hand to view the stories and learn about a new curriculum on fatherhood.
The digital stories complement a new social work curriculum on fatherhood that was recently developed through a partnership between the NYC Office of Child Support Services and the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College. The curriculum has eight modules that can be taught in sequence or as individual, stand alone units for undergraduate, graduate or continuing education students. The digital stories are integrated as part of each curriculum module. The eight modules include:
- Historical Overview of Fatherhood
- The Socialization of Man-Culture 0f Fatherhood and Manhood
- Working with Diverse Populations of Fathers
- The Importance of Fathers' Involvement and Effective Engagement
- Engaging Nonresident Fathers: Benefits and Barriers
- Engaging Fathers Involved in the Child Welfare System
- Engaging Fathers in Various Social Services and Systems
- An Overview of Child Support
Following welcoming remarks by Dr. Gerald P. Mallon, Associate Dean of Scholarship and Research at the Silberman School and Lisa Fitzpatrick, Chief Program Officer for the NYC Human Resources Administration, Department of Social Services. Dr. Mallon and Frances Pardus-Abbadessa, Executive Deputy Commissioner, DSS/HRA Office of Child Support Services, introduced the new curriculum and discussed its genesis and development. Joan Morse, curriculum designer and digital storytelling producer, described the purpose and process of the storytelling project and introduced seven of the fathers and their digital stories. Each story is very personal and has a distinct voice because each father wrote his own text and selected the accompanying images. Since Telling Fatherhood had its world premiere in the midst of the entertainment industry "award season," it was fitting that each father received a golden statuette during the premier event.
The program notes for the January 26th launch aptly captured the spirit and goal of the project: "We hope that this curriculum will help current and future social workers better understand and engage fathers and, ultimately, strengthen families, resulting in better outcomes for children in New York City and across the country." At ACF Region 2, we want to applaud the City of New York's Office of Child Support and the Hunter College Silberman School of Social Work for developing a new curriculum for social work practitioners about fatherhood policy and practice. Copies of the curriculum are available at the National Center for Child Welfare Excellence at the Silberman School of Social Work.
For more information about the curriculum, contact Dean Gerald P. Mallon, DSW, LCSW, at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, C.U.N.Y. You can view the videos on YouTube at Fatherhood: NYC Stories.
In addition to supporting the development of strong parent-child relationships and other activities associated with child support enforcement, the NYC Office of Child Support sponsors a program called “STEP” (“Support Through Employment Program”). STEP helps noncustodial parents with the training and preparation needed to find paying jobs in today’s job market. More information about STEP is available at the Child Support Services page of the New York City Human Resources Administration.