It's all too easy to bemoan the problem -- studies show clearly that growing up fatherless greatly increases the chances of a host of social pathologies, from poverty to drugs to violence.
Here's a program that is working on a positive solution: The City University of New York (CUNY) Fatherhood Academy, part of the university's Young Men’s Initiative, is a free, five-month, three-day-a-week program that helps young fathers, from age 18 to 24, earn a GED, prepare for college, get work experience, explore careers, and learn about topics like parenthood.
Seron Douglas, a recent grad of the program, and a single dad of a four-year-old, said, "The program has helped me become a man. I grew up without a father so I had no one to look up to or to learn from. The academy taught me what a father teaches a son -- how to speak to people and how to present myself. It changed my life."
Through the program, he landed a job as a bartender at the U.S. Open, and after this stint he is hoping to find a permanent part-time job with the help of the program. "I am thinking about my future and my son’s future,” said Seron. “I will go to college, get a good job. I never talked like this before."
According to the CUNY Fatherhood Academy, one in three children under the age of 18 in New York City grows up without a dad. This crisis disproportionately impacts the city’s black and Latino children, as 51 percent of black and 46 percent of Latino children are being raised in fatherless households, compared to 11 percent of white children.
"Those statistics change when we introduce education as well as employment -- they change drastically," said program coordinator Raheem Brooks. "Fathers are more present in their children's lives, which then affects poverty."
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