When fathers are incarcerated, children suffer: Without a father at home, children lose the emotional and financial support they need to grow into healthy adults. Fathers Count is working to change that in Westchester County. The mission is to promote responsible fatherhood by helping fathers become better parents and providers.
Fathers Count is a voluntary program provided at no charge to men age 18 and older in Westchester who are on probation, parole, about to be released, have recently been released from the County Department of Correction, or are in child support arrears, and who want to become better fathers. Fathers Count offers these men the opportunity to make a new start in their transition back into the community, and encourages fathers to support their children emotionally and financially.
Fathers Count teaches responsible parenting skills, financial literacy, and the importance of building and maintaining healthy relationships, to men who have been involved in the Criminal Justice System or Child Support Enforcement so that they can improve their economic situations and confidently assume all the challenges of responsible fatherhood.
Fathers Count provides free services at the Westchester County Department of Correction and in Yonkers. After an initial assessment, participants in Fathers Count will …
1) Attend a 10-week culturally sensitive Responsible Fatherhood workshop to learn about:
- developing values in adults and children
- experiencing manhood
- healthy child development
- drugs and alcohol awareness
- discipline techniques
- conflict resolution skills
- anger management strategies
- time management
- workshops also include employment readiness, money management, non-custodial fathers rights and responsibilities, race and racism and healthful eating
2) Work within a group and individually with a parenting/relationship counselor and an employment counselor to develop their own personal parenting and budgeting plan with specific goals and objectives to help them move forward, including obtaining/maintaining employment;
3) Receive referrals to other services (such as mental health or chemical dependency counseling) as needed.
Re-Entry Plus is a unique component of the Fathers Count program. It is a voluntary program provided throughout Westchester County at no charge to 20 fathers ages 18 and older. These fathers are currently on parole in New York State or were involved in the New York State Criminal Justice System. Re-Entry Plus participants are provided with the same services that Fathers Count participants receive.
In addition, Re-Entry Plus addresses particular needs and concerns that men placed on parole face. Participants are able to partake in a weekly support group.
Funding for Re-Entry Plus Program is received from Westchester County Department of Social Services.
In order to reinforce what the men have learned in the workshops and to ensure a successful transition back into the family and community, we feel it is beneficial for our program staff to have an opportunity to work with the family members as well. This allows us to take a more holistic approach to the family relationship, model healthy activities and enables us to observe the men as they practice what they have learned in the workshops.
FSW offers a series of workshops for families (including the men, wives/significant others and children) to be held once or twice per month in our Yonkers office. The workshops are facilitated by FSW staff and occasional guest presenters. Topics include “re-entry” to community/family, effective communication skills, family bonding exercises and anger management strategies. As appropriate split adults and children into separate groups to discuss topics such as peer pressure, drugs and alcohol, following rules and setting limits, and family values. We will continue to give alumni of the Fathers Count program, who are working toward furthering their education or have made changes and progress in their lives, or just have something useful to share, the opportunity to come back to co-facilitate workshops. We occasionally include activities such as trips to museums and nature centers as well as recreational outings such as apple picking, which are designed to reinforce the importance of working together as a community. Finally, we host a holiday party for the men and their families, which not only allow families to enjoy some quality time together, but provide an opportunity to model the type of activities that contribute to healthy family relationships.
Click here to dowload a Fathers Count Family Program Flyer
Click here for information on our upcoming 10-week Father’s Count at the YMCA program
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914-964-6767 ext. 126