Patrick-Murray Administration Hosts First Annual Fatherhood Leadership Summit
MARLBOROUGH — Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. JudyAnn Bigby today launched Massachusetts’ first ever fatherhood leadership summit, where more than 150 fathers and community leaders came together to develop strategies to strengthen families.
Secretary Bigby was joined by Department of Children and Families Commissioner Angelo McClain and Department of Early Education and Care Commissioner Sherri Killins at the summit, titled: Strengthening Families through Fatherhood Engagement.
“When fathers are engaged with their children and families, we know that children display an increased exploration of the world around them, have higher educational achievement and better outcomes,” said Secretary Bigby. “I am proud to launch this first ever summit to support the engagement of fathers in positive way with their children.”
Three years ago, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) began working to change and improve the way it identified, found and worked with fathers. There are now 14 Fatherhood Engagement Leadership Teams where fathers come together with DCF staff and other community leaders welcome, engage and hold fathers accountable for parenting children that come to the attention of DCF.
“We have seen, firsthand, a child’s eyes light up when they see their father,” said Commissioner McClain. “I am proud to be surrounded by all of these amazing fathers today. The conversations taking place here will help us as we seek to further enhance and expand our efforts to engage fathers in the lives of their children and families.”
DCF and EEC, together with community partners, will use the summit to strengthen leadership, policy, and management cultures within public and private agencies in Massachusetts to recognize the importance of fathers. The goal is to increase family functioning and outcomes by engaging fathers in a healthy, safe, and consistent way with their children.
“EEC supports the role that all parents play in their child’s life, including fathers,” said Commissioner Killins. “Engaged and involved fathers are critical to children’s well-being, as positive adult-child interactions create healthy environments that support children’s brain development, and provide a solid foundation for their growth and success. Our efforts to strengthen the families of the Commonwealth must actively include the role of fathers as parents.”
The summit also featured an address highlighting the national trends in responsible fatherhood by Eric Fenner, Managing Director of Casey Family Programs; and a panel presentation and discussion with fathers who have direct experience in Massachusetts public systems.
About the Department of Children and Families (DCF)
The Department of Children and Families is charged with protecting children from abuse and neglect and strengthening families. There are currently 7,000 children in foster care across Massachusetts and 40,000 children in all served by the Department. With the understanding that every child is entitled to a home that is free from abuse and neglect, DCF’s vision is to ensure the safety of children in a manner that holds the best hope of nurturing a sustained, resilient network of relationships to support the child’s growth and development into adulthood. DCF programs include foster care, adoption, adolescent services and domestic violence services.
About the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC)
The Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care provides the foundation that supports all children in their development as lifelong learners and contributing members of the community, and supports families in their essential work as parents and caregivers.
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