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Dan Welch
Colorado Department of Human Services
303.866.3808
Maggie Spain
The Bawmann Group
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June 2, 2011

Celebrating A Day That is All About the Dads

For the past five years the Colorado Promoting Responsible Fatherhood (PRF) Initiative and numerous local fatherhood programs have worked to strengthen the bonds between fathers and their children in our state. Now, with Father’s Day on June 19th, it is important to recognize the fathers, grandfathers, step-fathers and other male role models who have taken on the responsibility of being there for our kids.

According to a 2010 Census Bureau report, of the 27 percent of US children under the age of 18 who live in single-parent households, 87 percent live with their mothers. Children who grow up without fathers are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of school and 20 times more likely to end up in prison.

Taking a stand to end these trends are fathers across Colorado who are joining together to provide for their own families while also educating and encouraging other men to do the same. In October 2006, the Colorado Department of Human Services, Colorado Works Division was awarded a five-year federal grant to strengthen paternal relationships and improve the well being of Colorado’s children. Colorado is one of just two locations nationwide, Washington, D.C., being the other location, to receive this federal community access grant. To date, the PRF Initiative has awarded 63 grants to community and faith-based organizations that provide fathers with such services as parenting education, job readiness training and systems navigation (Child Support, Child Welfare, custody, etc.). With more than 5,000 fathers participating in funded programs since the start of the grant, there is a tremendous amount of support available for dads. Here is a brief snapshot of the work taking place in our state:

• An analysis of several hundred fatherhood program participants in fiscal year 2009/2010 revealed an increase of more than 37 percent in child support payments from the time of enrollment to three months after the completion of a fatherhood program.

• In Steamboat Springs, the Fatherhood Program of Routt County is offering a parenting education program for local fathers that also takes advantage of the great outdoors through fly fishing, equine therapy and camping events.

• At the Jefferson County Fatherhood Program, the development of a problem solving court has enabled fathers to create action plans with child support officials in order to reduce the amount of child support they are required to pay during their work release programs. The goal is to avoid litigation, ensure that a father complies with a child support order and increase visitation between father and child.

• As the PRF initiative continues to expand stories like that of Richard Jama are a source of inspiration for fathers across the state. Jama, the father of a young daughter, had visitation rights for many years through an informal custody agreement. But when his phone calls to arrange visits to see his daughter went unanswered for weeks, Jama learned that his daughter had been placed in foster care without his knowledge. A fight to gain full custody of her began. Following months of court hearings and enrollment in the Aurora Mental Health Center fatherhood program for guidance, Jama won his case and now has full custody of his daughter.

“It is important that we recognize fathers throughout Colorado who are taking an active role in their children’s lives,” said Dan Welch, fatherhood and family specialist with the Colorado Department of Human Services. “There’s no guidebook on how to be a great dad, what lessons to teach our kids, how to work through a painful divorce or how to balance a hectic work schedule. Fatherhood programs equip fathers with the tools they need to be the best dads they can be for their kids.”

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In October 2006, the Colorado Department of Human Services, Colorado Works Division was awarded a $10 million federal grant distributed over five years to strengthen father/child relationships and improve parenting. Colorado is one of just two locations nationwide, including Washington, D.C., to receive this federal community access grant. The Promoting Responsible Fatherhood Initiative distributes more than $1.1 million in awards to state, community and faith based organizations each year to assist in providing direct services to fathers and families. Awards of up to $50,000 are distributed per program per fiscal year. For more information on a fatherhood program in your community, please visit www.coloradodads.com.