Fathers First Program helps Queens Dads



As father's day approaches, prepare for the avalanche of articles, including articles on fatherhood initiative programs. I'm posting this one about a program in Queens, NY because it specifically mentions that it provides "child support assistance" (i.e. how to dodge it) and "legal assistance" (i.e. help in making your ex-girlfriend's life a misery by perpetually dragging her back to court till you get custody).


Fathers First Program helps Queens dads


Monday, June 15, 2009 3:57 PM EDT

For David McNeil, 45, the most important part of being a father always meant working to support his four sons.
Then, four years ago, McNeil became involved in the Fathers First Program – an initiative that began in the Rockaways more than 12 years ago by the Visiting Nurse Services of New York – whose mission is to help fathers become more involved in their children’s and family’s life.
“There is so much more than providing for them financially,” said McNeil, who like all fathers throughout the country will celebrate Father’s Day on Sunday, June 21. “You get a lot out of reading to them, listening to them and talking to them.”
McNeil has gotten so much out of the program, which provides assistance in a host of areas including healthcare referrals, job listings, family budgeting and emotional support, that he continues to attend meetings on a regular basis for his own benefit as well as serving as a mentor for new fathers who participate in the program.
“Fathers going through things, you think that you are the only one, but then people will start sharing their experiences and you find out that’s not the case,” McNeil said.
Every Monday evening the Fathers First Program, which is open to fathers throughout Queens and the city, meets at 86-01 Rockaway Beach Boulevard to have an open forum to talk with instructors and other fathers about issues going on in their lives.
“We teach parenting skills,” said Jomael Young, the outreach coordinator for the Fathers First Program. “We are very big on communication whether it is with a child or with a parent.”
Some of the other free services the Fathers First Program offers include child support assistance, individual and couples counseling and legal assistance.
Young said that, 12 years ago, the Director of Family Support Services David Jones saw a need for a program that would assist fathers of young children to provide them with skills and support to become involved in their child’s life.
“When we were able to track down these fathers it turned out many of the stereotypes put on men with children were not true,” Young said. “They did want to be a part of the children’s lives.”
While the majority of fathers involved in the program have children that are between three months and three years old, fathers with older children also participate in the program.
“Each father comes in with the same agenda, they want to see their kid, they want to be around their kid,” said Rockaway resident Thomas Daley, who started attending the program in 2004 after he got involved in an argument with his son.
Daley, 51, talked about the difficult upbringing his son Thomas Daley Jr. had with both of his parents addicted to crack while he was a youngster. However, Daley Sr., said it was through the help of the Fathers First Program – where his son now works – that helped him clean up his act and repair his relationship with his son.
“Anything that you need, this program will try to help you with.” Daley said.
For more information about the Fathers First Program, call Jomael Young at 718-318-8040.