Pilot Program Part Of Governorís Initiative
A program for incarcerated fathers will soon be piloted in five facilities thanks in part to Governor Jim Huntís ĎNorth Carolina: Helping Dadsí Initiative. The Governor created the Commission on Responsible Fatherhood in April 1999. It is comprised of leaders from business, faith, non-profit, legal and government sectors who will submit a plan to the Governor in October outlining the stateís accomplishments and recommendations to help strengthen the emotional, physical and financial bonds between fathers and their children.
Part of the strategic plan will include the F.A.T.H.E.R. (Fathers Acting To Heal Educate and Reconnect) program, which was initiated by C.J. Edwards, program director for the Division of Prisons. Edwards said she recognized the need for such a program for fathers while she was assistant superintendent at the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women. "The facility had a lot of programs to help mothers with parenting while in prison and I felt it was just as important for fathers to stay involved with their children," said Edwards. After a lot of reading and research, Edwards said she was even more certain there was a need for the Division of Prisons to start its own program for fathers.
Now with the attention from the Governorís Commission, the program is getting some financial help through Motheread Inc., which received a state grant to develop a parenting curriculum to address the needs of incarcerated fathers. Western Youth Institution, Brown Creek Correctional Institution, Dan River Prison Work Farm, Eastern Correctional Institution and Albemarle Correctional Institution will take part of the pilot program set to start this fall.
"Some fathers in prison lose all contact with their children or have no input in their upbringing," said Rev. Roosevelt Askew, member of the Governorís Commission. Askew was chaplain at Pasquotank Correctional Institution for three years, but recently to work for Elizabeth City State University. "By working on the commission, I hope to help them (inmates) with their roles as fathers and to know their rights. Studies show the impact on a childís success is dramatically increased when their fathers stay involved in their lives."
The program will include classes designed to help fathers understand their childrenís reactions to incarceration, how to communicate from a distance, understanding parent and child development, and teaching children discipline, consistency and structure.
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