Larry Woody is a Parenting Education Program Manager who works with fathers through Focus on Fathers.
Focus on Fathers is a federally funded program funded by the Administration for Children and Families which provides parenting information and courses for men on becoming fathers and sustaining healthy parenting relationships with their children.
“We offer a 13-week parenting education course for fathers, and if they participate, they have to complete at least 12 out of the 13 classes to get a certificate of completion,” Woody said. “If they participate, we offer gift card incentives for the Focus on Father’s program. It’s $150 if you complete 12 of the 13 classes.”
Woody said the program offers classes specifically to fathers and another course that helps initiate a positive co-parenting relationship between parents provided to mothers and fathers.
Because there is so much violence in Philadelphia, a majority by and against Black men, Woody said the team at Focus on Fathers sees themselves as interrupters.
“The subject matter of the classes is like discipline, values, getting along with your partner — that’s a big one. And what does it mean to be a man, men’s health,” Woody said. “We get into their heads. Now, I will tell you as somebody in Philadelphia, you know, there’s a lot of talk about gun violence and a lot of discussion about anti-violence and we see ourselves as part of the solution.”
Mayor Jim Kenney’s office has officially announced the Black Male Engagement Resource Finder, an interactive database that enables city residents to access resources across 12 categories.
Focus on Fathers is one of the resources listed under fatherhood and parenting support.
“Our role is to provide and facilitate opportunities for our communities to engage with their local government and ensure that our engagement is measurable. To close the opportunity gap for Black men and boys, we must build the bridges to these resources and continue to ensure that our impact is far more than a one-time experience,” said Eric Westbrook, Director, Mayor’s Office of Black Male Engagement.
According to a 2019 Brotherly Love Health Report report, 23% of Black men and boys are below poverty. There is an evident lack of access to opportunities correlating poverty and gun violence throughout Philadelphia.
“We want this digital tool to serve as an interactive resource for our community to discover and enroll in programs and services committed to helping Black males in the city,” said Mynome Lorde, Black Male Partnership VISTA Corps member.
The database has been split into community development; youth development; economic development; education, health and wellness; homelessness and housing; legal services; mentorship; re-entry; violence prevention; workforce development; fatherhood; and parenting support.
Organized in alphabetical order under each category are groups and organizations with contact information and websites to reach out for support directly. There are currently over 100 different resources available, and the database will be continuously updated.