Until recently, the prevailing belief among family court judges in Columbus and throughout the U.S. was that a mother was best equipped to care for her child, and that she should therefore be given preference to do so over anyone else, including the child’s father. Now, that belief is changing, and more courts and child services agencies are working with fathers and families to keep both parents involved in their child’s life.
In Ohio, one county is leading the way with its groundbreaking “Fatherhood Initiative.” The program works to involve more fathers in child services cases, to teach men how to become better fathers and to help them gain custody of their children. The overall goal is to keep more dads in their children’s lives, especially when the alternative is foster care.
Since the Summit County initiative was launched in late 2010, the number of fathers who have participated in the program and seen favorable results has steadily increased. Now, agencies throughout Ohio and the country are looking to the program for inspiration and guidance.
It may be surprising that it took an initiative to get fathers involved in their children’s cases and lives. But there were major roadblocks that had to be overcome, including the previously discussed preference toward mothers. In addition, many mothers simply didn’t want their children’s fathers in their lives. However, studies show that active fathers improve the lives of both children and mothers, causing moms to be less depressed and children to be better emotionally and socially adjusted.