Ed. Note: This highlight is a repost from a series entitled Highlights from the Field: Office of Family Assistance Programs at Work for American Families from the Office of Family Assistance Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood Technical Assistance Project. Read the original posting here.
This highlight from the field features Arturo, a participant of the Strong Fathers, Stronger Families program at Seedco (Structured Employment Economic Development Corporation), a Responsible Fatherhood grantee of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Family Assistance.
Arturo learned about Seedco’s Strong Fathers, Stronger Families program in New York City through a Craigslist ad promoting an open house event. At the time, he could not find work. Conflict with his ex-wife over financial support had led to a complete breakdown in communication with his five-year-old daughter. He enrolled in the Seedco program, hoping to bypass the parenting and relationship curriculum and go straight to finding a stable job. “I didn’t want to be angry all the time,” Arturo remembers. “I just wanted to take care of myself and my kids.”
With encouragement from his case manager to give the group a chance, Arturo soon discovered that the fathers and staff at the St. Nick’s Alliance program site in Brooklyn offered him a valuable sounding board and mentoring. Their support and the communication skills he learned through The Blueprint curriculum helped him reach out to his ex-wife and make a new request for contact with their daughter. As a result, Arturo and his daughter regularly started talking on the phone.
After Arturo completed the parenting and healthy relationship workshops, Seedco staff arranged three interviews for him. Arturo obtained a position at a building materials supply company. Through its wage subsidy component, Seedco reimbursed Arturo’s employer for his salary for the first 90 days to allow him to grow into his new position and prove himself. He started working in the outdoor lumberyard, and at first wondered if he could sustain the hard work in the long-term. Thinking of his daughter, he stayed in his job.
Arturo opened a checking account for direct deposit and made weekly payments into a special account for his daughter in California. This further improved his relationship with his ex-wife. He bought a phone so he could communicate with his daughter using Skype. Showing photos of his daughter in the glasses he bought her, Arturo says, “I now have a relationship with my daughter that I never had before the program. In addition, my job has improved my relationship with my girlfriend. I am able to make up for her financial support when I was not working. This has relieved stress in our relationship.”
Arturo took advantage of every opportunity to develop his skills on the job. He earned certification in forklift operation and is working to obtain a commercial driver’s license. After 10 months, his willingness to learn new things and go beyond the required work earned him a promotion to an indoor customer-facing role in the warehouse and a pay raise. He has recommended the Seedco program to three friends, all of whom have completed the parenting and healthy relationship workshops and started working.
“Strong Fathers, Stronger Families helped me stay humble and react positively to criticism,” Arturo reports. “The program offers valuable skills and support, but it’s each father’s responsibility to accept the help and use the new skills.”
Advancing Opportunities for NYC Dads
Founded in 1987, Seedco (Structured Employment Economic Development Corporation) is a national nonprofit organization that combines workforce development, family supports, and other human services to help parents strengthen their employment prospects and their families.
In New York City, Seedco’s Strong Fathers, Stronger Families program helps fathers with low-incomes throughout Washington Heights, East Harlem, North Brooklyn, and the South Bronx gain the resources they need to enter and succeed in the workforce and have a positive impact on the lives of their children.
Learn more about Seedco and other Office of Family Assistance funded Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood programs at https://hmrf.acf.hhs.gov
Office of Family Assistance