|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
||For More Information, Contact:
|June 18, 2004
||Coria A. Holland, Director of Communications
||617-727-5300, ext. 258
MASSACHUSETTS SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE THOMAS FINNERAN TO ADDRESS GRADUATES
OF PROBATION'S BARNSTABLE FATHERHOOD PROGRAM
Thomas M. Finneran, Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, will share some fatherly advice during his address to probationers who are graduating from the Barnstable Fatherhood Program today at St. Mary's Church on Route 6A in Barnstable.
The Barnstable Fatherhood Program was designed to encourage fathers to play a more significant role in the lives of their children by emphasizing the importance of their behavior as a model for their children. Since the program began in 1997, more than 140 fathers have graduated from the program. Only nine of the 144 graduates of the Barnstable Fatherhood Program have re-offended after participating in the program.
This year's graduating class reflects an interesting trend in parenting roles in the program. Half of the fathers, ages 22 to 54, have custody of their children. During the 12-week program, representatives from agencies such as the Department of Revenue Child Support Enforcement Division and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (MSPCC) do presentations on providing financially for children and enhancing parenting skills.
"I really see a difference in the fathers and their interactions with their children from when they first begin the program to when they complete it. This program teaches them to be better fathers and to respect the mothers of their children," said J. Robert "Bob" Smith, a Barnstable District Court Probation Officer and one of the key facilitators of Probation's Barnstable Fatherhood Program.
The fathers' offenses include: assault and battery, threat (murder), witness intimidation, violation of a restraining order, and resisting arrest. Twelve fathers started the program but only 11 are graduating.
One graduate, 31-year-old David J. Marceline has six children, ages 3 to 14. The children are currently living in a homeless shelter with their grandmother. The mothers of the children are not in contact with the family.
"The Fatherhood Program has helped me see through the eyes of my children. It has been a Godsend. I used to suppress myself with drugs and alcohol. As the children got older, they began asking questions. I began to see the pain they were experiencing and I wanted to break the cycle," Marceline said.
The program, Marceline said, has taught him to be "truthful" with his children. It also gave him the impetus to begin school with plans to move the children out of the homeless shelter, he said.
Smith said he has watched the men grow intellectually and emotionally as they strengthened their bonds with their children and improve their parenting skills. He also recalls another probationer, 54 years old and the father of 24 and 26 year old sons, who never told his sons he loved them until he enrolled in the Fatherhood Program. The father never gave the boys a compliment, Smith said.
The Fatherhood Program is the "brainchild" of Steve Bocko, a Deputy Commissioner who was a Chief Probation Officer for the Training Division in the Office of the Commissioner of Probation (OCP) when he and Norfolk Juvenile Court Chief Probation Officer Thomas Mitchell created the program. Both men started the program about 12 years ago when they discovered a common thread among 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 14 counties throughout the Commonwealth.
The Program is based on the following five principles:
1. As a father, it is my responsibility to give Affection to my children.
2. As a father, it is my responsibility to give Gentle Guidance to my children.
3. As a father, it is my responsibility to give Financial Support to my children and to the mother of my children.
4. As a father, it is my responsibility to Demonstrate Respect at all times to the mother of my children.
5. As a father, it is my responsibility to set a Proud Example for my children by living within the law and without the taint of alcohol and drug abuse.
Each meeting consists of the members sharing how they have used one of these principles in the past week. The Fatherhood Program also features guest speakers which include judges, clergy and social service providers. The program is held once a week for 12 weeks and is offered twice a year, in the spring and the fall.