State’s longest running Fatherhood Program celebrates 20th anniversary with graduation today
(Barnstable, MA)-The Barnstable County Fatherhood Program—comprised of District, Juvenile, Probate & Family, and Superior courts— will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a graduation today, June 19, 5 p.m., at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 3055 Main Street, Barnstable. The Barnstable program is one of the longest running initiatives of its kind and is the oldest of the nearly 20 Massachusetts Probation Service (MPS) Fatherhood Programs in the state.
Nine probationers, who range in age from their 20’s to 50’s, are scheduled to graduate this evening. Robert Smith, the now retired Barnstable Probation Officer who introduced the program on the Cape, will be the keynote speaker. Approximately 250 men, the fathers of 540 children, have participated in the 12-week program since it was established in 1997. The program features sessions on child support, navigating Probate & Family Court, child development, and maintaining healthy relationships.
One of the most compelling and heartfelt sessions is when the participants are asked to write letters to their own fathers. Many are filled with raw emotion and are not the typical Father’s Day greeting card wording. Two of the fathers will read their letters before an audience that will include the graduates’ children, the mothers of their children, family, and friends. State Representative Sarah Peake is scheduled to attend. Probation officials, including the Commissioner of Probation Edward J. Dolan and Probate & Family Probation Statewide Supervisor Richard O’Neil will also be present.
Barnstable District Assistant Chief Probation Officer (ACPO) Barry Nunes and Orleans District ACPO Wayne Chase, who both currently facilitate the program, said the sessions never fail to change the thinking and attitudes of the fathers.
“The rewarding part is when you see the men really embrace fatherhood. Some are chasing the drug or alcohol and then they realize that there are these little people who really rely on them,” Chase said.
The Barnstable program, similar to Fatherhood Programs across the state, is based on the Five Principles of Fatherhood:
1) Give affection to my children
2) Give gentle guidance to my children
3) Provide financial support to my children and mother of my children
4) Demonstrate respect at all times to the mother of my children and
5) Set a proud example by living within the law and without the taint of alcohol/drug abuse.