Fatherhood celebration draws dads, kids

Jun 20, 2014  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  no comments

photo 1Standing in Hemming Plaza in downtown Jacksonville the day before Father’s Day, more than 50 dads recited a pledge — committing to be the best dad they can be.

The pledge was part of E3 Business Group — North Florida Chapter’s “E3 Celebrates Fathers” event, held in conjunction with the national Fatherhood Buzz initiative.

As part of the celebration, attendees marched from the E3 Center for Entrepreneur Development to Hemming Plaza. Many fathers who came brought their children with them.

Coalition Fatherhood Coordinator Jack Johnson spoke at the event, encouraging fathers to be active in their children’s lives. The event concluded with fathers reciting the pledge.

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NEFL Teen Pregnancy Task Force Mini-grants awarded to six agencies

  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  no comments

The Coalition awarded six mini-grants to Northeast Florida agencies to implement specific strategies outlined in the NEFL Teen Pregnancy Task Force community action plan to reduce teen pregnancy and births in the region. Grants begin July 1 and address engaging parents, repeat teen pregnancies, improving access to adolescent health care and community-based teen pregnancy prevention.

This is the second year of the mini-grant program, which is funded by the Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation and Florida Blue. Nine agencies were funded in the 2013-2014 cycle.

The grant recipients are:

  • APEL Health Services – $16,495 – “YouthLink Juvenile Justice Initiative,” Community-based teen pregnancy prevention (also addresses incarcerated youth, male responsibility and reducing STIs/HIV)
  • Florida Department of Health—Baker County – $8,505 – “Parent and Teen Perspectives in Baker County” Engaging Parents
  • The Bridge of Northeast Florida – $15,000 – Healthy Choices,” Community-based Teen Pregnancy Prevention
  • Florida Department of Health—Clay County – $15,000 – “Teen Health Center” Community-based Teen Pregnancy Prevention (also addresses improving access to adolescent health care, reducing STDs and HIV/AIDS, engaging parents and addressing male responsibility)
  • Florida Department of Health—Nassau County – $16,000 – “Teen Power Nassau” Engaging Parents (also addresses community-based teen pregnancy prevention, repeat teen pregnancies)
  • Stork’s Nest of Jacksonville – $9,000 – “Stork’s Nest Program,” Repeat Teen Pregnancies

The grant program also funds the Health Begins Before Birth program through Lutheran Social Services of Jacksonville’s Nourishment Network. The program provides case management, nutrition counseling, food and supplies to low-income women pregnant women, including teens, in Jacksonville.

Despite declines in the teen birth rate over the last 20 years, teen pregnancy still remains a problem. Teens in the region give birth at a higher rate than those statewide and nationwide. Nearly one out of five teenagers in Northeast Florida who has a baby will become pregnant again before leaving her teens. Additional births multiply the difficulties experienced by teen mothers.

BREACH program for fathers to end in August

Jun 11, 2014  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  no comments

100_2488The Florida Department of Revenue, Child Support Enforcement BREACH Project will end August 29, 2014. Family Court Judges and Hearing Officers have been instructed to stop court ordering fathers to the program to allow staff time for close-out.  The last group of fathers started on May 29, 2014 and will complete the project on July 17, 2014. Plans are in the works, however, to implement a similar program.

Since starting back in August 2011, over 400 fathers have signed-up for the  Bringing Relief, Education and Assets to Children and their Household (BREACH) program to take advantage of these great incentives:

  • Reinstatement of driver’s license
  • Delaying of enforcement actions
  • Modification of support order, if warranted
  • Preventing the seizing of assets
  • Financial literacy training
  • Establishing a saving account and matching deposit 2-for-1
  • Fatherhood initiative education training to strengthen the bond between parent and child
  • Develop a repayment plan for arrearage
  • Possible debt compromise on child support arrears owed to the state

The program was evaluated twice by the Federal Assets for Independence (FAFI) Services to measure the projects impact on noncustodial fathers and their understanding of the importance of reaching personal financial goals by managing personal finances and achieving financial self-sufficiency so that their dependent children can also experience financial and economic well being.  Both evaluations revealed that not only is the program well known throughout the Duval community and the Department of Revenue, but it’s highly successful as well:

  • 70 percent of project fathers completed Fatherhood Initiative Training
  • Pre & Post Test Survey data indicates a significant increase in father’s knowledge surrounding a father’s role in the family, building better relationships and positive co-parenting techniques.
  • 87 percent of the fathers participating in the project are consistently making monthly payments and continue to maintain a healthy relationship with their children.
  • Judges reported that after completing the program, recidivism rates for fathers being incarcerated for nonpayment of child support/arrearages have reduced since the start of the program.

The Coalition’s Responsible Fatherhood Initiative was contacted by and is meeting with the Duval County Family Court, Department of Revenue, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and several associated law firms to help develop a program which would continue the much needed BREACH services to the fathers.  There are approximately 24,000 child support cases in Duval and Nassau counties with delinquencies.  About 10 percent of these will be reviewed for associated parent incomes at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.  The activities offered as part of the project can be replicated in other programs easily.

The consensus of the community and participants is: The program works!!  The fatherhood training helps fathers not only to focus their attention back on their child (ren) but also helps them deal with displaced anger and other negative, unhealthy feelings.  The fatherhood classes provide fathers with a positive manly atmosphere where they can vent and share their personal issues and provide and receive positive feedback and support from other fathers who are struggling with similar financial or family issues.  Through the fatherhood classes, fathers are rediscovering their role in the lives of their children and genuinely accepting responsibility/accountability to raise healthier and happier children.