In the District of Columbia, father absence is an epidemic leading to poor outcomes for thousands of children. Fathers estranged from their children have few resources to assist them in connecting or reconnecting to them. Men with limited education, few job skills and other barriers to employment are not a match to the employment opportunities of the 21st century. Non-custodial fathers who are unemployed or under-employed are not able to meet child support and provide other financial supports to their children that would break through the resistance of many birthmothers to build a co-parenting relationship.
In order to fulfill the primary goals of the Promoting Responsible Fatherhood Initiative, HFTCC contracted with five Community Collaboratives to implement the Fatherhood Education Empowerment and Development Program (FEED). The Community Collaboratives are independent, community-based non-profit organizations that for more than 10 years have been providing resources for families in crisis, helping parents achieve the health, economic, and educational goals they identify for their families; and helping to build communities that support the well-being of their residents. Since 2006, the Community Collaboratives, in partnership with the HFTC Collaborative Council, have implemented the Fatherhood Education Empowerment and Development Program (FEED), an education empowerment and training program
Utilizing a comprehensive, strengths based case management model, FEED is designed to respond to these needs with interventions and supports that will lead to:
- Fathers becoming employed or improving their employment status and increasing their financial support to their families;
- Fathers gaining a better understanding of the importance of their role in the lives of their children and reconnecting with or strengthening existing relationships with them; and,
- Fathers developing more positive relationships with the birth mothers/significant other, including marriage supports.
FEED has three inter-related components:
- Employment which includes a range of services for men along the full continuum of need, from basic education, to job readiness and job training and job placement and retention.
- Responsible Parenting utilizes the Quenching the Fathers Thirst curriculum in addition to coaching and other parent supports.
- Healthy Marriage/Relationship component is performed by a program consultant.
The target population for the FEED program includes men who are:
- Birth Fathers
- Custodial or non-custodial fathers;
- TANF recipients, have been in the past, or whose non-custodial children are on TANF;
- Unemployed, underemployed or employed fathers who might or might not have active child support cases; and,
- Are fathers of children involved in the child welfare system.
FEED is conducted in the District of Columbia serving fathers residing in all eight wards from five program sites.