Musings and Sometimes Rants about the non-equal status of Fathers in Family Law and Parenting. Additionally periodic comparisons to the treatment of men compared to women in other areas including health care.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Dads get help in this family program
Peel: Program received grant for support into 2010
Article Last Updated;Monday, September 14, 2009
Camaraderie mixes with angst as five men sit around a rectangular table, discussing their subject of mutual distress.
One of the men has rambled on for several minutes, first telling his good news about recent job advances, then launching into a somewhat troubling review of his recent dealings with his estranged wife. Abruptly he realizes he's hogging the spotlight. He stops his tirade and smiles.
"Thank you," Richard Dilworth tells the group. "I feel better. ... This place has been a godsend."
This is the weekly meeting of the Promoting Responsible Fatherhood initiative, a unique program with a goal of keeping fathers involved in their kids' lives, no matter what their relationship with the mother becomes.
Social workers often witness a vicious cycle in custody cases: The father can't make a child-support payment and believes, or is told - erroneously - that he no longer can see his child. Once he loses touch with the child, he loses incentive to make payments.
"So many guys don't even know they have rights," says Kate Jones, who coordinates the program. "They assume since the mom gave birth to the child, she has all the rights."
The initiative is run by Advocacy for La Plata, a Women's Resource Center program headquartered above United Blood Services in Bodo Industrial Park. If sometimes these men feel like the blood is being squeezed out of them, at this meeting they know they're not alone. Not all estranged fathers, after all, are deadbeat dads.
"That's the big myth," Jones says. "There are (deadbeat dads). Just like there's deadbeat moms."
Almost all the fathers are voluntary participants, says Eve Presler, program director for Advocacy for La Plata. That's important because of the dads' buy-in. They're more likely to trust program workers and remain committed than if a court has ordered them to show up, she says.
It's a chance to get together with like-minded guys, Jones says, and they're also lured by the free pizza and pop.
Along with group facilitator Jason Spoo, a graduate of the program, the four men share their victories and frustrations and advice. The subjects vary, but one theme is consistent: None of the four is getting the desired access to their children.
Morgan Abbey, for example, last saw his son 33 days ago. The boy now is in Nebraska, and Abbey is in the process of trying to get visitation rights.
Jim Drumstas' two children spent part of the summer in Southwest Colorado, but they've gone back to Maine with their mother. Lawyers are involved, but from Drumstas' perspective, progress is slow and uncertain.
The 16-week-long sessions include instruction in various aspects of fatherhood. They learn about child behaviors, nutrition and relationship skills.
The Promoting Responsible Fatherhood initiative is not just the group meetings. Caseworkers deal individually with the fathers, helping them find jobs, going to court with them as advocates. Since its inception 2½ years ago, the initiative has served 150 fathers, about 96 percent of whom do not have custody.
Presler is excited that a recent $50,000 state grant will fund the program through at least September 2010. She's a big believer in fathers' rights. She's worked to decorate the walls with pictures of fathers and their kids; doctors' offices, she says, are notorious for having pictures only of mothers with kids.
In the meeting room, there's a poster on the wall titled, "Every Girl Every Boy." It's a list of myth-busters concerning men and women. One of the lines says:"For every girl who is tired of acting weak when she is strong, there is a boy tired of appearing strong when he feels vulnerable."
There's some macho-ness in the room, for sure, and they manage to joke about their serious issues, but the feelings are real. These men are sad, mad and stressed out. They need help, and they know it.
"They're very proud of what they've overcome," Kate Jones says. "These are the guys who want to be the best dads. And they typically end up being the best dads."
I am Politically active and right of centre on most issues with the odd exception such as legalization of "Mary Jane".
I advocate on changes to Family Law - an incredibly dysfunctional arena where parents are pitted against one another and children are the victims.
My picture will sometimes show me as a younger man simply because I like them.
In 2006, unintentional falls were the leading cause of nonfatal injury among women of every age group, and rates generally increased with age. Women aged 65 years and older had the highest rate of injury due to unintentional falls (59.7 per 1,000 women), while slightly more than 19 per 1,000 women aged 18–34 and 35–44 years experienced fall-related injuries. Unintentional injuries sustained as motor vehicle occupants were the second leading cause of injury among 18- to 34-year-olds (18.7 per 1,000), while unintentional overexertion was the second leading cause of injury among women aged 35–44 and 45–64 years (13.7 and 9.3 per 1,000, respectively). Among women aged 65 years and older, being unintentionally struck by or against an object was the second leading cause of injury (5.7 per 1,000).
Injury related Emergency Department Visits
Unintentional and intentional injuries each represented a higher proportion of emergency department (ED) visits for men than women in 2005. Among women and men aged 18 years and older, unintentional injuries accounted for 19.9 and 27.5 percent of ED visits, respectively, while intentional injuries, or assault, represented 1.4 and 2.7 percent of visits, respectively. Among both women and men, unintentional injury accounted for a higher percentage of ED visits among those living in non-metropolitan areas, while adults living in metropolitan areas had a slightly higher percentage of ED visits due to intentional injury.