In our continuing series of articles leading up to this year’s Rally 4 Kids, Andrew Reiners, Director of LFS’s Fatherhood Initiative Project, introduces a new program designed to engage non-custodial dads in their kiddos’ lives.
Lutheran Family Services is excited to introduce the Fatherhood Initiative Project as a new program offering across the state of Nebraska. The state-funded Fatherhood Initiative Project is part of the Healthy Marriages and Responsible Fatherhood grant.
Often when families and children become involved in social services, the father’s role in the child’s life can be left unaddressed due to various factors and barriers. Research shows that when children have an active father in their lives, they are more likely to succeed in school, live a substance-free lifestyle, and suffer fewer mental health problems. In addition to the impact on children, men who are connected to their children live healthier lives. That includes more motivation to maintain employment, make healthy personal decisions, build stronger relationships, and stay out of jail themselves.
The Fatherhood Initiative Project seeks to build the relationship between fathers and their children by offering a variety of resources. To be eligible for our free and voluntary service, fathers must:
- be below 200 percent of the federal poverty line
- be the non-custodial parent
- be legal citizens or documented immigrants.
Once a referral is made, fathers are connected with an intake specialist who gathers information and determines their eligibility for the program. After the intake is complete, a father can expect to be assigned a case manager within a couple of days. Fatherhood case managers work from a client-centered approach to complete assessments and an individual service plan with the dad to determine services needed. The case manager will meet with the father where he needs, whether at a public location, the home, or an LFS office. Case managers help refer to other services and resources in the community as needed and act as an advocate for that father in his efforts to reconnect with his kids.
In addition to case management, all fathers in the program can receive education and employment assistance from an employment specialist. All fathers are also encouraged to participate in a 13-week parenting course that focuses on being a nurturing father. Upon completion of the trainer-led class, men craft a vision statement for their father-child relationship and receive a completion certificate that can meet court-ordered parenting class requirements.
This team has had the amazing opportunity to serve men in the community and corrections facilities. The stories of breakthroughs, comradery, and moments of growth from dads eager to improve themselves and their children’s lives have been a blessing to the entire team. Whether it’s been an incarcerated father learning how to discipline in a more patient and nurturing way, a dad coming out of homelessness with the help of his case manager, or men regaining visitation rights with their children, the impact in this first year has been felt greatly.
For more information and to access the simple referral form and flyer, please visit:
Referrals and inquiries about the project can also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Andrew Reiners at email@example.com 402-880-5269
Lutheran Family Services proudly partners with Legal Aid of Nebraska and RISE’s re-entry program in this project.