For more than 25 years, fathers who have been incarcerated at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility (CFCF) have been able to take part in a 12-week-long Fatherhood Program. The Philadelphia Department of Human Services (DHS) runs the program. Twelve more fathers proudly graduated from the program in January 2023.
The Fatherhood program gives participants the skills and confidence they need to become better parents. They learn about their children’s needs, development, and the role they play in their children’s lives. The program is beneficial to fathers who are dealing with various challenges. This includes parenting while incarcerated. Some have never even met their children.
The Fatherhood program’s impact runs deep. “All I have is time in here to reflect,” shares Melvin. He’s a recent program graduate. Participants can reflect on the concepts they learn and the discussions they have. They also have time to think about the kind of fathers they want to be moving forward.
Andrew Williams and Abdulhakiym Muhammad have led the program for nearly 15 years.
“The astonishing thing about [this] group is to see men who don’t know each other become family,” says Muhammad.
They create a safe space for participants to interact and share their experiences. Over the 12-week session, participants create meaningful bonds with each other. They encourage each other to be better fathers and members of the community.
Furthermore, DHS hopes the program will have a lasting effect on family stability. The department works to provide and promote safety, permanency, and well-being for children and youth at risk of abuse, neglect, and delinquency. The Fatherhood program is one way of working towards this mission. “By providing this Fatherhood Parenting Program, it ensures a higher probability of having one less child at risk of placement in the child welfare system,” says Williams.
DHS offers parent support and education groups for all caregivers. There are programs to meet the needs of foster parents, bio parents, teens, or incarcerated parents.