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A Different Kind of Tool Belt for Dads

Around Father’s Day each year, Tools for Dad sales are advertised at local hardware stores.

While these gadgets and gizmos are great to have, we think that the tools ECS gives our dads have a longer shelf life. With Father’s Day around the corner, we thought we would shine some light on the remarkable men we get to work with every day.

Take Santino for instance, an active member of our Father’s Group, which provides comradery and wisdom for young and involved fathers. “I think we can all learn from each other … it’s different minds … different things [people] can speak on,” he said of the group.

And there’s Cheara who participated in our Out of School Time program through his middle school years. Today, he reaps the benefits of the program through a different lens: as a parent. His hope is that his children grow up in the same nurturing environment that he did.

Many fathers are also benefitting from the services we provide at St. Barnabas Mission, our emergency shelter for women and children.

It’s a common misconception that for female-led families in shelter, a father-figure for the children is not in the picture. But that’s not always the case. Mothers at St. Barnabas are asked if they would like staff assistance in connecting children to their fathers—in which mothers are freely able to accept or decline the offer.

In one scenario, a young mother was working long hours and unable to make it back to the shelter in time for dinner with her kids. They could have missed out on that with a parent, but their father was able to fill that void and spend quality time with them.

Since 2015, ECS has been one of a handful of local service providers working closely with Dr. Rufus Sylvester Lynch of The Strong Families Commission to become a certified Father-Friendly Flagship Agency (3FA). The Commission works with organizations like ours to build capacity, increase, and sustain the involvement of fathers in the lives of their children.

“The 3FA initiative is about the well-being of the child. It is not about getting parents back together, or any particular family constellation,” said Caroline Dunleavy, director of strategy management. “It can include teaching parents how to co-parent effectively—if needed or desired.”

Nurturing a strong father-child relationship isn’t the only victory to benchmark. Sometimes, success is in providing children with a better sense of self. Essentially, the success is in providing them with more social assets—an understanding of who they are, where they come from while helping them get to where they want to go.