Want to do a better job as a dad? NJ tries to help
Big impacts can come from small moments that fathers and their children share.
Dads just have to create those moments, but may need a little nudge in the right direction.
"Fathers are working more hours, but we're trying to get fathers to understand that in their absence, there still can be communication," said Doreen Finley, program director for Father Time, an initiative running in a couple of New Jersey counties through Parents Inc.
The programs, Finley said, can also assist fathers who've been incarcerated and wish to reconnect with their children, or fathers who get only a couple days per week or month with their children following a divorce.
The Father Time program is one of several recognized by the state as quality initiatives focused on empowering fathers to be present in their children's lives. The FELLAS program (Fathers Empowered to Learn, Lead and Achieve Success) is another in Essex County.
"Through support programs and community events, they assist men in remaining available, responsible, and committed their children. These programs are especially important to build a community of dads lifting up dads," said Jason Butkowski, spokesman for the state Department of Children and Families.
Nearly 50% of working fathers say they spend too little time with their kids and want to do a better job in that area, according to a Pew Research report from 2015. Seventy percent reported they could use tips on being a better parent.
DCF has several young father programs, Butkowski added. The Fatherhood Healthy Relationships Initiative, for example, focuses specifically on expectant or parenting young fathers between the ages of 16 and 21.
The department also provides training to staff around fatherhood engagement strategies, and promotes the annual "Dads Take Your Child to School Day" each fall.
As fathers prepare to be celebrated on Sunday, a new national campaign has been launched to show that small memories, such as an impromptu dance in the living room, can be a big win for the father-child relationship.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at email@example.com.