Hopefully, they had a great Father’s Day.
Scores of young men got some help earning a card from their kids by learning to become better fathers in an innovative local parenting program now entering its second decade.
The latest class of young dads, ages 16 to 24, graduated from Claremont Neighborhood Center’s F.A.T.H.E.R.S. Program June 7 at the Bronx Museum.
The program, where they learn skills to “feel like the world’s best dad,” is about 11 years old, and was created by Abraham Jones, executive director of Claremont Neighborhood Center at 489 E. 169th Street.
“I was looking to address the pressing issue of having responsible fathers in the community, and helping young men navigating their roles of being a responsible father,” Jones said. “We are able to provide a whole host of services and training workshops to young men so they can understand the co-parenting role.”
The program receives funding from the city Department of Youth and Community Developmental and the Administration for Children’s Services, Jones said. It trains men active in their children’s lives – whether or not they are still with the child’s mother, Jones said.
“We work on conflict resolution with the children’s mother, and have an excellent team of caseworkers who training in helping young men with anger management and in domestic violence prevention,” Jones said. “They are trained to work with our young men and help those enrolled in the program and take care of their responsibilities, and find employment, and the mentors can advocate for them in terms of child support.”
The young men in the program are shown that having a father absent from a young child’s life can lead to low self-esteem and low self-concept, possibly contributing to making it more likely that child will someday join a gang or drop out of school, Jones said.
“Many of the young men in our program themselves had an absent father,” he added, saying that at currently there are about 90 young men in the program.
Program graduate Euquon Odom, 20, was able to get a job in Claremont’s after-school program after completing the 12-week training program.
“The leaders of the program go beyond being mentors,” Odom said. “If they find out we have a test coming up, they call and make sure we are studying. If we have to go to school or a program and don’t have transportation, they provide us with us with MetroCards.”
“At first I thought that being a father just meant having a job to provide money for the child,” said Odom. “But there is really much to it – like providing love, attention, and being a father figure.”