Young Fathers Graduate from Building Successful Families Class

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The Building Successful Families class at Pathfinders of Oregon’s Center for Family Success gives young dads the skills to build healthy relationships with their children.

What these dads need is someone to show them it’s okay to change, it’s okay to challenge old thinking and break the cycle of poor choices, criminality and drug abuse.

A group of nine young fathers recently graduated from the Building Successful Families class at the Center for Family Success. Most of the dads, who came to the program through referrals from Parole and Probation or Child Welfare Services, were not living with their children and several did not have any contact with their children when they enrolled in the program.

Duane Worley, program facilitator and parenting coach, knows from firsthand experience what these young dads are facing. He had substance abuse problems and lost contact with his son when he was younger. In his words, “I know all too well what it feels like to want to change and not have the resources or someone there saying, ‘Take my hand; let me show you a new way to live.’ That's what these dads need, someone to show them it’s okay to change, it’s okay to challenge old thinking and break the cycle of poor choices, criminality and drug abuse. I’ve seen that these fathers really want to change. They just need the resources and the people to show them how to do it.”

“Alex” (not his real name) is 23 years old, was unemployed and had a history of involvement with the juvenile justice system. Alex is the father of triplets and Child Welfare was in the process of terminating his parental rights when he joined the class. Halfway through the Building Successful Families class, Alex was able to reestablish visits with his children. The Center for Family Success provided Alex with employment support and he found a job. He is contesting the termination of his parental rights and is determined to be the best father he can be for his triplets.

Many fathers who are involved with the criminal justice system or the child welfare system lose contact with their children, leaving those children without a father figure or a father’s support – a situation that isn’t good for the fathers or the children. The four-month-long Building Successful Families class combined two highly successful programs, Parenting Inside Out (PIO) and Healthy Relationships: Successful Families (HRSF) to give fathers the skills to build relationships with their children and with their children’s caregivers.

Parenting Inside Out is an evidence based parenting skills program developed by the Oregon Social Learning Center, the Oregon Department of Corrections and Pathfinders of Oregon. PIO is based on Parent Management Training, a program with more than forty years of research proving its effectiveness with high risk families.

Healthy Relationships: Successful Families is a research informed family violence prevention program. HRSF provides both relationship enhancement skills, such as how to create a vision for your relationship and how to support your partner’s dreams, as well as skills for deescalating conflict before it can become family violence.

“Paul” is 21 years old. He was referred to the Young Fathers Program by his parole officer. Paul has an 18-month-old daughter that he hadn’t seen for six months. Through the Young Fathers Program, Paul began to have regular visits with his daughter. He used the skills he learned in HRSF to reestablish his relationship with his daughter’s mother. Paul’s parents, sister and his daughter’s mother all attended his graduation to show their support for the changes he is making in his life.

Helping families stabilize not only benefits them, it is also good for the community. For each family served at the Center for Family Success, an estimated $35,000 is saved in terms of public safety and child welfare costs. For the children in these families, success is counted in happiness, stability and better outcomes.

About Pathfinders of Oregon
Pathfinders of Oregon is a 501(c) 3 organization whose mission is to break the cycle of criminality. Pathfinders has taught programs within the Oregon Department of Corrections for 20 years. In the community it offers programs to families impacted by the criminal justice system through its Center for Family Success in Rockwood, and operates an alternative education program for pregnant and parenting teens at its Pathfinder Academy.

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Mindy Clark
Pathfinders of Oregon
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