Release - June 11, 2002
Office of the Commissioner of Probation
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11 , 2002
Holland, Director of Communications
FATHERS LEARN TRUE MEANING OF FATHERHOOD
group of 11 fathers, offenders who were placed on probation, will
graduate from the Fatherhood Program of Barnstable District Court
where they learned how to become more responsible and caring fathers
to their children. Several have reunited with children they had
not been in contact with for years. The graduation will take place
on Thursday, June 13, and feature speaker Dr. Randall Turner,
Vice-President of the Maryland-based National Fatherhood Initiative.
Turner is a recognized national leader who has created numerous
programs for fathers, including "Long Distance Dads,"
a program for incarcerated fathers; "Doctor Dad," a program
designed to teach child health and safety to young fathers; and
"Foundation of Fatherhood," a community fatherhood program.
The ceremony will be at St. Mary's Church, in Barnstable,
at 5 p.m. The Barnstable Fatherhood Program, run by Barnstable
Probation Officer J. Robert "Bob" Smith, is one of the
longest running Fatherhood Programs of the Massachusetts Probation
Service. The Barnstable program has graduated 120 fathers, roughly
20 fathers a year, since it was established in 1997.
"This program is not for everyone. We started with 12 fathers
and one dropped out. But, the fathers who see it through to the
end find it very rewarding. In some cases, it is a life-changing
experience," said Smith.
"The program gave me the tools I need to become a better father.
I was skeptical at first. In the long run, I am happy that I participated,"
said one father.
The Fatherhood Program is the "brainchild" of Norfolk
Juvenile Court Chief Probation Officer Thomas Mitchell who started
the program ten years ago when he discovered a common thread among
the male probationers under supervision. "An overwhelming majority
had little or no contact with their own fathers," Mitchell
said. There are Fatherhood Programs in nearly each of the 110 courts
throughout the Commonwealth.
At the Fatherhood Program in Barnstable, participants share how
they have used one of the five principles of the Fatherhood Program
in the past week. The Fatherhood Program also features guest speakers
which include judges, clergy and social service providers. Across
the state, Fatherhood Program participants, who typically range
in age from 18 to 50, learn child safety, receive job and Red Cross
training, and attend presentations on the importance of childhood
and establishing paternity as well as how to show affection to children.
The participants were placed on probation for offenses that range
from breaking and entering to substance and domestic abuse and assault
The Massachusetts Probation Service is a department of the Massachusetts
Trial Court. There are 12 Superior Court, 70 District Court, and
12 Probate and Family Court probation offices throughout the Commonwealth.
Probation's Juvenile Court system includes 11 divisions which represent
every county in the state. There are more than 20 Community Corrections
Centers. The Office of the Commissioner of Probation (OCP) serves
as the central administrative office for the state Probation Service
and the Office of Community Corrections.