Cambridge Fatherhood Program Holds Graduation To Celebrate Completion of Program That Helps Fathers Become More Engaged In Children’s Lives
A dozen court-involved fathers graduated from the Cambridge Fatherhood Program, an initiative of the Massachusetts Probation Service, recently at the Union Baptist Church in Cambridge.
As a result of participating in this 13-week program, several of the fathers who did not believe they would be granted visitation or joint custody of their children now do or are steps closer to this goal. The graduates, who ranged in age from the early 20’s to 50’s, collected their certificates of completion at a ceremony last Wednesday, May 11th.
This program really opened my eyes to how I can work out problems with my family. It also gave me a different thought process on how to interact with my kids differently,” said Fatherhood Program graduate Chris, 37.
“It was a good opportunity to spend time with guys who are dealing with the same issues. Clearly I didn’t volunteer to be a part of this. But, it helped me decide what kind of father I want to be. I mean not everyone had a wonderful childhood but I think everybody wants to be a good father,”said Program graduate Tim.
The Cambridge Fatherhood Program, an initiative which includes facilitators from five different Probation departments, is nearly 20 years old and one of the longest running Fatherhood Programs in the state. The facilitators are Cambridge District Assistant Chief Probation Officer Ronald Layne, Middlesex Probate & Family Probation Officers Edwin “Ted” Welch and Kevin Sheehan, Middlesex Superior Probation Officer William Gosmon, Newton District Probation Officer Ricky Hymon, and Waltham District John Guanci. All are fathers themselves. The Cambridge Fatherhood Program, a collaboration between Probation and Union Baptist Church, was founded by Layne, Gosmon, and Union Baptist Church Deacon Marshall Thompson along with Reverend Paul Ford.
“The common thread among participants is that they all really want to be a part of their children’s lives and we try to give them the knowledge and provide them with the resources and tools they need to accomplish this,” Layne said.
Weekly sessions feature guest speakers from Department of Revenue, the Department of Children and Families (DCF), the Men’s Health Alliance-Cambridge Health Alliance, and Trial Court employees such as judges and Probation employees. They discuss such issues as domestic violence, substance abuse, responsible fatherhood, child development, men’s health, employment, education, and legal matters such as child support. Suffolk County Regional Supervisor Renee Payne conducts sessions on interpersonal communication which includes role play with the fathers to demonstrate how to work with the mothers of their children on parenting issues.
“Fatherhood Programs benefit the community and reconnects fathers to their children. By participating, fathers enhance pro-social behaviors, problem-solving and communications skills. This promotes law-abiding behavior that contributes to public safety,” said Probation Commissioner Edward J. Dolan.
The Cambridge Fatherhood Program is one of 13 similar programs across the state. Approximately 360 fathers have graduated from the Cambridge program over the years. More than 2,000 fathers have graduated from Fatherhood Programs statewide since the first one was introduced. All of the programs are based on the “Five Principles of Fatherhood,”:As a father it is my responsibility to: 1) Give affection to my children; 2) Give gentle guidance to my children; 3) Provide financial support to my children and the mother of my children; 4) Demonstrate respect at all times t the mother of my children; and 5) Set a proud example for my children by living within the law and without the taint of alcohol/drug abuse.
“Educating our fathers on the importance of consistency and stability in their children’s lives has yielded positive results in our collective efforts to strengthen family relationships,” said Probate & Family Court Statewide Supervisor for Probation Richard O’Neil. “Exhibiting these behaviors are essential factors that contribute to healthy child development.”
There are four more Fatherhood Program graduations scheduled in the coming weeks.
Boston Municipal Court’s Dorchester Division will host its Fatherhood Program graduation on May 18th, at the court.
A ceremony, referred to as a “Certificate Night” for the Fatherhood Program in Essex County will take place Tuesday, May 31st, in Lawrence at a local restaurant.
The Barnstable County Fatherhood Program’s graduation ceremony will be held Friday, June 17th, at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Route 6A, in Barnstable.