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State Awards $2.7 Million for Responsible Fatherhood Programs

EAC Receives Funds to Initiate New Program

The State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) recently announced that it has awarded more than $2.7 million for eight organizations to run programs that will help low-income, noncustodial fathers become more involved with their children’s lives, financially and emotionally.

Eight organizations in New York City, Long Island, Onondaga, Monroe, Schenectady, Orange and Chautauqua counties are receiving funding through OTDA’s Strengthening Families Through Stronger Fathers Initiative. Four of the agencies previously participated in a three-year pilot program that ended last fall.

Locally, Education & Assistance Corporation (EAC), Inc was awarded $445,333 and, according to Rebecca Bell, executive vice president of EAC, the funds will help implement the Just for Dads program, a Long-Island wide project targeting fathers who are unemployed or underemployed and who have either new child support orders or are in violation of their current support order.

“In these difficult economic times, our investment in these programs is vital as they provide the opportunity for low-income New Yorkers, and their children, to achieve greater economic security and stability,” said Kristin Proud, deputy secretary for Human Services, Technology and Operations, who is currently overseeing OTDA. “This initiative will help low-income fathers to not only better meet their child support obligations, but to better connect with their children. This is integral to our core mission as studies continually show that children who have the emotional and financial support of both parents are more likely to experience success later in life.”

The organizations funded through this program will provide participants with parenting, education and employment services, among other supportive services. The three-year pilot programs demonstrated there is great demand for these services.

The Strengthening Families Through Stronger Fathers Initiative supports the development of collaborative strategies between social services districts and community organizations to help low-income noncustodial parents find and maintain employment, and pay their child support in full.

According to Bell, through the Just for Dads program, EAC hopes to increase child support payments by improving their ability to pay support as a result of increased employment, teaching fathers parenting skills through counseling and parenting workshops and also help the fathers access their children through visitation, family mediation and other conflict resolution techniques.

For more information about EAC or their Just for Dads program, please call 539-0150.