2010-06-25 / Top Stories

Bloomberg Launches Fatherhood Initiative

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has announced the launch of a citywide fatherhood initiative to strengthen New York City families by helping fathers be active in their children’s lives. The launch comes after the Mayor directed city agencies to review their policies and practices to make sure fathers were not unintentionally excluded from, or missing opportunities to engage in their children’s lives.

The initiative includes more than a dozen programs ranging from offering parenting classes at public hospitals and homeless shelters, to educational activities for dads and their children at Housing Authority community centers. To oversee the effort, the City will hire its first-ever Citywide Fatherhood Services Coordinator. The Mayor was joined at the announcement at The Fortune Society by Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda I. Gibbs, Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development Dennis M. Walcott, actor Malik Yoba, New York City Housing Authority Chairman John B. Rhea, Human Resources Administration Commissioner Robert Doar, Department of Youth and Community Development Commissioner Jeanne B. Mullgrav, President and CEO of the Fortune Society, Joanne Page, and Fortune Society member Francisco Gonzalez.

“Strong families make a strong New York. But too many children in this city are growing up without their fathers,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “We want more children in our City to experience the encouragement, support and love of their fathers. And that’s why all City agencies will work to seize every opportunity to help fathers be a part of their children’s lives.”

“All too often we focus our attention and resources on helping mothers and forget that dads – particularly new ones – need help too,” said Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services Linda I. Gibbs. “The initiative announced today will make sure New York City fathers have more opportunities to engage in their children’s lives.” Children who grow up without active fathers in their lives are more likely to live in poverty, do poorly in school, run afoul of the criminal justice system, and become teenage parents.

This is particularly true for New York City’s African American and Hispanic children, who are more likely to grow up in single-parent households. While 32 percent of all New York City children under the age of 17 live in households without a father, 54 percent of black and 43 percent of Latino children grow up in fatherless households.

“By making our agencies more father friendly, we will help thousands of dads be a part of their children’s lives,” said Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development Dennis M. Walcott. “This will improve the lives of thousands of children in New York City, who will undoubtedly do better in school and life with the support and love of two active parents.”

“The New York City Housing Authority is proud to work with Mayor Bloomberg to engage, educate and empower fathers in NYCHA communities,” said NYCHA Chairman John B. Rhea. “NYCHA is fostering an environment in our developments and community centers where fathers reconnect with their children, equipped with the child development and life skills to make a positive, lasting impact on their children’s lives.”

“This morning over 24 million children woke up without their biological fathers in the home,” said Kenneth Braswell, Board Member of the National Fatherhood Leaders Group.

“Many of them will wake up the rest of their lives never seeing their fathers or knowing who they are. This is a great beginning to encourage fathers, require accountability from them, and ultimately celebrate fatherhood.”

Over the last three months, 13 City agencies including the Parks Department, Health and Hospitals Corporation, Department of Correction, Housing Authority, Probation Department, Health Department, Human Resources Administration, Department of Education, CUNY, Administration for Children’s Services, Youth and Community Development, Aging, and Homeless Services, have undertaken an extensive review of their policies and developed plans to better engage New York City fathers. In addition to hiring a program coordinator, the City will also launch a pilot at Housing Authority community centers on Wednesdays and Saturdays for fathers and their children.

In this supportive atmosphere, fathers will learn parental, life and child development skills, while also participating in recreational and cultural activities with their children.

The Housing Authority will also create a new partnership with CUNY to offer precollege development workshops and courses for teenaged youth and young fathers, with the goal of connecting fathers to CUNY colleges. The City’s Department of Youth and Community Development, and other agencies, will also collaborate to provide additional resources and programming at the centers.

New Yorkers interested in learning more about parenting and resources for fathers should call 311 or visit www.nyc.gov.

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