Reconnecting fathers, children aim of Fatherhood Town HallsWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
As many area residents make plans to celebrate Father’s Day on June 19 with their families, other local fathers have little to no relationship with their children. In response, a Lucas County agency has been hosting a series of free community informational meetings with the aim of increasing the involvement of fathers in their children’s lives.
Lucas County Children Services (LCCS) and its Diversity Advisory Committee will host its fourth Fatherhood Town Hall meeting at 7 p.m. June 17 at Power House Tabernacle, 1228 Campbell St., in Toledo.
Momentum in the movement is building, said Marjorie Holt, minority affairs and inclusion coordinator at LCCS.
“It’s growing. More and more fathers are coming forward and showing more interest in connecting with their children. That’s really the goal of all this is to bring back the dads and get them involved in the lives of their children,” Holt said. “We’re really trying to make this a resource for fathers so they will have access to every service available in our community to help them be the best parent they can become.”
One of every three U.S. children lives apart from his or her biological father, including nearly two of every three African-American children, according to the National Fatherhood Initiative, citing 2009 U.S. Census data. In 1960, only 11 percent of U.S. children lived in father-absent homes.
“Children do better socially, psychologically, emotionally; children just excel and succeed more when the father is connected,” Holt said. “There seems to be a correlation between how well a child progresses in life when there is a father or a male figure in his or her life. So the establishment of that kind of relationship allows the child to understand that having a father figure in their life, it completes their life.”
At the meeting, community leaders and fathers who have returned to their children’s lives will share their experiences, said Julie Malkin, LCCS public information officer.
“We’re going to have a number of fathers tell their stories about their experiences and how they became separated from their children — whether it was a financial matter or not getting along with the baby’s mother or incarceration — and how they have returned to their children’s lives and what that’s meant for them,” Malkin said.
Representatives of community agencies that support fathers, including legal, health and child support resources, will be available to answer questions and offer help, Malkin said.
New this session, transportation will be available for fathers who need a ride to the meeting.
Peterson said the town hall meetings, which have been offered quarterly since June 2010, seem to be helping.
“Fathers have so far spoken positively about what’s going on,” Peterson said. “It’s much-needed. There’s a lot of problems out there, a lot of issues. There’s a lot of resources out there and people don’t know about it.”
For more information, call Lucas County Children Services at (419) 213-3200 or visit fatherhood.org. O