Research has shown that father engagement in a child’s life is particularly important in the health and development of the infant and growing child. Infant mortality rates are 1.8 times higher for infants of unmarried mothers than for married mothers. Moreover, new father involvement in caring for their child in the first days of a child’s life has positive long-term benefits, including better socio-emotional and academic functioning among children.
Recognizing the important role that fathers play in the overall development of families, Public Health Solutions (PHS) recently implemented a Fatherhood Program at our Queens Healthy Start Partnership. We sat down with our Fatherhood Coordinator, Jomael Young, to find out more about the program.
PHS: Tell us about the Fatherhood Program.
JY: PHS’ Fatherhood Program was created to provide services to dads that have expecting partners and children 18 months or younger in Long Island City, Jamaica-Southeast Queens, and neighboring communities. There are more and more studies being reported that dads have an entirely different experience during the journey of fatherhood and partnering in parenting, potentially one that is filled with anxiety and stress. Therefore they can possibly create some unhealthy and unfortunate dynamics for themselves and their partner if not acknowledged and expressed in healthy ways.
PHS: What services are being provided?
JY: The Fatherhood Program exists to assure that the entire family can be provided support and services together. We provide the following, at no cost to the client:
- One-on-one case management
- Referrals to job/job training programs
- Workshops for expectant and new dads
- Support groups to discuss their successes and challenges in an open forum without judgement
- Referrals to health insurance/health care
- Parenting and anger management classes
PHS: Is there a personal story you can share of a dad you have worked with?
JY: There was one particular dad that had some pretty deep-seated anger issues, to the point in which he’d take sets of boxing gloves to his place of employment to physically fight his co-workers if need be. Throughout his time with the Fatherhood Program he was able to discuss why he felt so angry and what was behind his anger, in a way that he didn’t feel ridiculed or judged the way he thought he would be by his friends and family. I still speak to him, and he’s a part-time minister now! Whenever we talk, we discuss and laugh about how much the support groups helped him and how it changed his outlook on the challenges that arise in his everyday life.
PHS: How would you like to expand the program if funds were available?
JY: The target goal is to outreach and provide services to at least 100 dads connected to expecting partners or child under 18 months during the fiscal year. Right now due to current funding, we are only able to provide this service in Queens. Being able to expand and have this program available across NYC would make a tremendous impact.Help Jomael reach more dads through the Fatherhood Initiative!
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