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Three articles:

"Compassion for Young Fathers," an interview with the program coordinator and a participant in a program for young fathers. The coordinator described what motivated him to start the program:

I was a corrections officer. I can tell you the exact moment it struck me that someone needed to educate men on the importance of being involved in children’s lives. One morning, this young man who was no more than 19 years old asked me to congratulate him. He said, “I’m a dad.” I said, “Good for you. How many is that?” And he said three. And I said, “What influence are you going to have on their lives? You’re creating a cycle that’s going to be repeated by your son one day.” That young man went back up to his cell, and he stood there very dejected. That’s when it hit me. Having a child should be a joyous occasion. So I went up and congratulated him and embraced him. And I sat down and started having a heart-to-heart talk about how as a man you are defined by what you do and how you enhance the life of the children you bring in this world. I said, “I’m happy for you, but I want to see you do better for your children by making something out of yourself.” It was at that point I realized there was a huge need for educating men on the importance of being involved in their children’s lives.

"Giving At-Risk Youth a Chance," an article about Roca, a program developed to help "16- to 24-year-olds living on the streets or involved in gangs, drugs, or the court system. Participants may also be high school drop-outs, young parents, immigrants, or refugees."

What struck me about the program was its focus on intense, continuous, relationships with the kids involved:

It has four major core components: 1. relentless outreach and follow-up, a strategy for engaging young people wherever they may be; 2. transformational relationships (Roca’s long- term case-management model uses positive, consistent personal relationships with adult staff as the primary vehicle for effecting change); 3. stage-based programming, which offers programs for life skills, education, and transitional employment to address each individual’s behavioral and developmental barriers to economic and social success; and 4. relationship building with the agencies and public entities that have roles in young people’s lives, including the courts, the probation department, the Department of Children and Families (formerly Department of Youth Services), law enforcement, and local governments.
It's been very successful and cost-effective to date.

"A Model for Inclusive Engagement" describes a way of getting people involved in making their communities a better place through getting them to pose the (community-related) questions that bother them most. The conversations that spring from this approach are the ones the community actually wants to have, and the result is that the things that get done are the things that the community members themselves want to get done. This approach was first used in Berlin in 2006; the article talks about its use in a neighborhood in Springfield, Massachusetts--the state's third-largest, and second-poorest, city.


( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 9th, 2011 03:38 pm (UTC)
Oh, wonderful! I shared this with my mama.
Sep. 9th, 2011 03:41 pm (UTC)
♥ ♥

Thank you!
Sep. 9th, 2011 03:47 pm (UTC)
These give a glimmer of hope.
Sep. 9th, 2011 03:51 pm (UTC)
I think so too. It's good to spread the word about things like this. It encourages people, helps us keep our hopes up, and sometimes gives us ideas about approaches that can help in certain situations.
Sep. 9th, 2011 04:36 pm (UTC)
There is a cultural alternative, practiced by the Pueblo among other groups. In it, men nurture and mentor the children of their sisters. They know they're blood kin and the configuration fits easily into existing familial networks. This defuses the constant pressure on forming nuclear male-headed families (and the equally constant blame for failing to do so) but keeps the men involved.
Sep. 9th, 2011 04:39 pm (UTC)
Now that you mention it, I remember that I knew that. That's a cool method--makes for a more interwoven set of relationships than just down through the parent-child chain.
Sep. 9th, 2011 05:21 pm (UTC)
I like the "ask a question" model. For one, phrasing your concern as a question implies innocence of agenda. ;) I just this morning employed the technique with Tweetie's school principal, asking what the protocol was for emergency communication between school officials and families whose primary language is not English. I haven't heard back yet. Dollars to doughnuts, there isn't any protocol...but there should be, and that's embedded in the question.

Sep. 9th, 2011 05:52 pm (UTC)
Yep, questions can be a really powerful form of criticism--and can provoke good self reflection if people don't immediately get defensive.

Now you're making me wonder what my own town's protocol is for contacting nonnative English speakers.
Sep. 9th, 2011 05:23 pm (UTC)
Those are wonderful examples of how transformative the right kind of empowering support for people in difficult circumstances can be.

My own favourite of the moment are a plethora of programmes encouraging dads in prison to 'read with' their children - through dads recording stories, making books, or reading-apart and then at visits. The majority of people in (UK) prisons are illiterate, so such schemes have the multiple aims of motivating prisoners to become (more) literate, supporting the next generation into literacy, and providing a way for families to keep together, while appart.

Sep. 9th, 2011 05:53 pm (UTC)
Wow, I like that very much, that reading program! Do you have links to information about it? I wonder if they do programs like that here.

(Remember my own attempt to get involved? It's stalled right now. I sent in the application, and haven't heard back, despite phoning and leaving a message and sending an e-mail message...)
Sep. 9th, 2011 06:22 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad to hear about these literacy programs! I think if I were a child visiting a family member in prison, it would be a welcome relief to be able to talk about a book we'd both read, or to read together. Instant connection, and a measure of desperately needed escapism.
Sep. 9th, 2011 07:07 pm (UTC)
Here are some links:



And this one has links to a couple of fathers' schemes and other ideas:

I am sorry that your approach to the local institution hasn't been welcomed with open arms (yet).
Sep. 9th, 2011 07:10 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for these! dudeshoes found a similar program here in New England. I'll call her attention to your comment here--she will probably want to look at these links for comparison's sake (and I'm interested, for myself, to read them too).

Regarding my attempts, yes! But I'll keep trying...
Sep. 9th, 2011 06:07 pm (UTC)
What great comments! You have the best readers, Asakiyume!
Sep. 9th, 2011 06:16 pm (UTC)
I sure do!!

Do you know anything about a prison program like muuranker describes? She's in the UK, but if there's anything like that around here, that would make a **great** article. And if there isn't anything like that around here, there should be!
Sep. 11th, 2011 08:32 pm (UTC)
Thank you Claire, for sharing and asakiyume for gathering/ reviewing/ and sharing at large! Hope, yes! positive programs, yes! asking, asking, asking until we get viable answers, yes!
Sep. 11th, 2011 10:16 pm (UTC)
I'm really glad Claire showed you, and I'm glad you liked them. I find them so encouraging, and I love that muuranker shared about prison programs in the UK--which then led dudeshoes to find out about similar programs in New England.

I've found reading the articles in Communities and Banking (which is the magazine that published these) to be extremely informative. It's directed me toward lots of good causes and also really increased my sense both of issues and possible solutions.
Sep. 13th, 2011 02:41 am (UTC)
Great links, F. Are you volunteering for similar youth programs?
Sep. 13th, 2011 11:21 am (UTC)
I'm not just now, but I'd like to do something in prisons. I filled out an application, but my paperwork seems to have disappeared into a void. I'm pursuing it, though. (Slowly)
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )

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