Port Chester, NY— A $331,250 grant to Family Services of Westchester (FSW) will help launch a new initiative, Bringing Fathers Back, that aims to reduce recidivism and reinforce ties to family and community by providing mentors for young fathers who are returning home after incarceration. Bringing Fathers Back will help these men make a successful transition home by working with them—both during their
incarceration and after their release—to instill life skills for success in school, work, and family life.
An estimated 30 percent of men under age 25 in secure confinement facilities in Westchester County are young fathers whose incarceration presents risks for their children and families. The award, from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) is intended to address the specific needs of incarcerated fathers and consider the needs of their children. Although incarcerated fathers struggle with a variety of issues that mirror those of other inmates, their needs are particularly important due to the potential impact on their children, both while the father is incarcerated and once the father returns home.
“In addition to overcoming the material problems of finding housing and jobs, fathers reentering the community after incarceration often face emotional reactions, such as anxiety and stress. Many of these young men never had a positive role model in their own lives and they often struggle to overcome poverty and low levels of job skills and education,” explained FSW President and CEO Susan B. Wayne. “By helping these young men become better parents and role models for their own children, FSW will contribute to the health and well-being of their families and communities.”
Bringing Fathers Back is designed to replace the social isolation of incarceration with a social network of community connections by offering the following components:
Mentoring. Volunteer mentors will meet with recently released fathers on an ongoing basis to help them build self-esteem and avoid risk factors such as gang involvement and problems with substance abuse.
Parenting skills. A series of educational activities and workshops will include communication skills, family bonding exercises, and anger management strategies.
Community Partnerships. FSW will work with government agencies, community groups, and faith-based organizations to ensure that participating fathers have access to job training, housing, and other social support services.
The new initiative, which targets young men age 16-24, is based on nearly ten years of experience working with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated populations. FSW will operate Bringing Fathers Back out of its Mt. Vernon and Yonkers offices, where it already runs several successful parenting programs, including REAL (Responsible. Employed. Active. Loving.) The program will rely on FSW’s own vast array of mental health and social services, including individual counseling; relationship and family counseling; parent-child mediation; and more.
Family Services of Westchester, Inc. (FSW) is a private, not-for- profit agency serving our community since 1954. Headquartered in Port Chester, FSW runs more than 50 social service and mental health programs that reach 30,000 children, teens, adults, and families a year.
Programs include adoption and foster care for children; Head Start and Pre-K programs for Westchester's youngest students; Big Brothers/Big Sisters and other mentoring programs for teens; social support for the elderly; assistance to veterans; and educational and support services for people living with HIV/AIDS. We are licensed by the New York State Office of Mental Health to provide comprehensive mental health services at seven Family Centers (Hastings-on- Hudson, Mt. Vernon, Pelham, Port Chester, Sleepy Hollow, White Plains, and Yonkers) and five school-based mental health clinics. For more information about FSW, visit www.fsw.org.