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The Department of Children, Youth and Families obtained feedback that told us staff often struggle with navigating the engagement of fathers, especially when mother’s refuse to identify them, they are missing, or are incarcerated. As a result, the Director authorized a new Department-wide procedural memo be developed and distributed to renew the focus for staff on the importance of engaging with missing parents, specifically fathers.
A team led by the Fatherhood Liaisons developed the Fatherhood Champions Initiative. Fatherhood Champions will be DCYF staff who will be trained and mentored in fatherhood perspectives, secondary trauma, and cultural contexts. The Department is actively working to recruit staff from the Family Services Unit (including all regions), Child Protective Services, Juvenile Justice, and Resource Family Divisions. In addition, the Department is researching fatherhood training models to use. The Champions will first be trained using this model, and then these Champions will provide training and coaching to DCYF staff and be part of the larger statewide efforts by Parent Support Network and regional efforts by the New England Fathering Conference.
Beyond what is mentioned above, the RI Parent Support Network and its Rhode Island Fatherhood Initiative are also being engaged in the development of the Department's stakeholder engagement strategy.
The Department, in conjunction with the New England Fatherhood Commission and the Rhode Island Parent Support Network, will increase and enhance its engagement with fathers by identifying dedicated staff liaisons to identify specific areas of improvement targeted towards engaging fathers.
For Fatherhood Resources: