The Start to Something Better
Those were the opening words spoken by Hampshire County Sheriff Patrick Cahillane at last month’s Nurturing Fathers virtual graduation ceremony. The program is a partnership of the Children’s Trust and Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction. As part of the evening’s events, graduating fathers took to the virtual stage to share their perspectives on the types of fathers they want to be:
“I promise to be the one who will always listen. I will build a snowman with you… I will always encourage you. I will always include you, and I will love you forever and always.”
– Mikey, Nurturing Fathers program graduate
“My goals are now... to trust myself, my child, and those around me; to have good communication, to share in mutual respect, and to always be a strong co-parent,” added Marcus.
“It is up to me now to step up into my fatherly role and to keep trying every day to do the best that I can," said Mark.
Over the course of the program, participating fathers explore their own childhoods and the impact of childhood experiences on their own parenting. They discuss and learn how to nurture and support their children so that they can be an active part of their children’s lives. Research demonstrates that fathers play an important role in the development of their children:
- Highly involved fathers have children who are 33% less likely than other children to repeat a grade.
- Highly involved fathers have children who are 43% more likely than other children to earn mostly A’s.
- 90% of homeless and runaway youth come from a fatherless home.
The Children’s Trust and Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction have partnered for three years to offer the Nurturing Fathers program, helping over 100 incarcerated fathers build parenting skills and strengthen their bonds with their children. The 13-week program provides guidance and counseling to fathers during their incarceration, and the expanded program provides an additional 2 weeks of transitional guidance at the Northampton Recovery Center for participants after they leave incarceration and return home to their families.
“Connections to family, friends, and children is a powerful motivating force that can continue healthy, productive lifestyles,” said Sheriff Cahillane. “This program is setting a better course for kids and fathers – and their future.”
Congratulations to the graduates!