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Fatherhood Initiative Reaches Dads, Children

Several White Plains groups are reaching out to males in the lives of children through the city's Fatherhood Initiative.

Fostering closer bonds between a father and his children is a national issue, but one that also hits close to home.

“More than 70 percent of children in communities of color in White Plains are being raised by a single parent mother,” said 

Driven by such statistics, White Plains is now taking a more proactive role in supporting relationships between resident kids and adults with the new “White Plains Fatherhood Initiative.”

“A healthy city begins with healthy families,” said Williams Jr. “Healthy families are healthy when fathers are engaged, involved and help meets the needs of their families.”

The program kicked off Monday night at the . The group of fathers and male role models will meet bi-monthly to provide support and resources to fathers, strengthen families and promote information for dads on important topics of interest.

The city’s school district, its Youth Bureau and the Beta Alpha Alpha chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. are launching this program.

This initiative grew out of an event last September within the called “Take Your Dad to School Day,” which drew nearly 800 men eager to engage in the lives of their children.

“This program follows up on our efforts to engage fathers and encourage them to become active in schools, active in the community, active in their children's lives [and] active in their families,” Williams said.

The school district, which is sponsoring several activities in the coming months to bring more men into the lives of children, is very supportive.

“I believe that the more parents get involved in the lives of the kids the better it is for the youth and the whole community,” said White Plains 

Clouet said the school is working aggressively in reaching out to fathers. Some of the upcoming programs include a March 9 Dads’ Night at which will feature an exciting Jeopardy competition for dads and their children. They will both have the opportunity to with prizes.

Additionally, Clouet said that the district has also partnered with for a new program at Ridgeway Elementary School this coming May. This program will have a special focus on nutrition for fathers.

“The Youth Bureau and the school district are [also] partnered with the New York Knicks on supporting father’s events and are hopeful for a big event after the season,” said Clouet. The district will also be partnering with the Parent Teacher Association to introduce a Male Parent Advisory Council with the objective of reaching more dads.

“As always – by dads we mean fathers and father figures in the lives of children,” Clouet said.

Common Council Member Benjamin Boykin, who is a member of the Beta Alpha Alpha chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., is proud his organization and these groups can come together on such an important project.

“Our fraternity is all about service to the community,” said Boykin. “This is a very big initiative we are pushing and are in partnership with to make sure that we serve as mentors to individuals that need mentoring, especially young African-American men.”

Boykin’s organization recently had a week of achievement programs. The group also offers scholarship programs to African-American and Latino men and perseverance stipends if those individuals remain in school and complete their degrees.

Engaging fathers has become a broader cause around the country.

“One of our [fraternity] brothers sits on President Obama's Fatherhood Initiative,” said Williams Jr. “The president has encouraged fraternitys not to sit on the sideline, but to help him and our country help fathers [and] strengthen our fathers in terms of family development.”

About 50 men were to attend Monday’s meeting. Williams Jr. hopes this program will allow males to talk to and with other men about problems, experiences and hopes they’ve had with children—eventually evolving into a community resource and support group for men in White Plains. All male guardians/caregivers are welcome: uncles, brothers, grandfathers, etc.

“My hope is that the Fatherhood Initiative will empower, strengthen and help men become better husbands, better fathers and productive in the community,” said Williams Jr.

Additionally, this program will allow for workshops and activities as well as present jobs and networking opportunities through employment referrals, resume writing and interviewing skills.

“This is a worthwhile cause,” said Boykin.

The Obama Administration is also providing several support services and federal grant opportunities for different fatherhood initiatives like this one.

For more information, contact Williams at 914-422-1378 x2105 or fwill@whiteplainsny.gov 

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