Monday, January 9, 2012

Is accepting fatherlessness de-facto policy?

I've worked on community and youth issues for the City of Boston, non-profits, and faith-based and community-based organizations for many years. Often in the non-profit/human services/community world, fatherlessness is mentioned or bemoaned but rarely is there then a serious discussion about how to address it. Most of the programs that do exist are quick 8 or 12-session fathering "skills" programs.

A few years ago I was interviewing for a senior management position with a youth development program just outside Boston. They do great work, from getting teens GED's and jobs, preventing violence, and they do lots of outreach/street work, which in my view is critical. They document results and demand measurable outcomes from their staff, and each client goes through a plan with documented steps. That said, I was reading their literature, which included all the usual "needs statements" so many of us in human services have written for our funding proposals and our organizations' literature about poverty, literacy, crime rates, etc. However, in this organization's literature there was not one mention of fatherlessness! Not one! And, that was pretty shocking, given how holistically they approach youth.

Also, it's been documented, for example, that the state's child welfare agency - DCYF - rarely looks for the father in cases where a child is taken from the mother's custody. There's rarely even a cursory review of whether the dad would be a suitable guardian. DCYF's own fatherhood liaison admits it. The Urban Institute documented it here in Massachusetts and other states. So, there we have an example of "accepting fatherlessness" becoming de-facto policy.

No comments:

Post a Comment