NTJN Member Spotlight: Center for Urban Families (CFUF)

By Jonathan Philipp, Research and Policy Assistant, National Transitional Jobs Network

CFUF pic_ spotlight

President Obama meeting with CFUF participants in May, including the CFUF Father of the Year.

In honor of Black Male Achievement (BMA) month, we wanted to highlight an organization doing amazing work to help men of color, so this month we’re turning the NTJN member spotlight on Center for Urban Families (CFUF).  Based in Baltimore, Maryland, CFUF serves over 1,500 individuals each year, strengthening urban communities by helping fathers and families achieve stability and economic success. Since its start in 1999, CFUF has been a national leader on responsible fatherhood, workforce development, family strengthening and black male achievement. We sat down with James Worthy, CFUF’s Business Development & Training Manager, to catch up on CFUF’s work today.

Q: How would you describe CFUF in three sentences?

A: CFUF’s core mission is to strengthen urban communities by helping fathers and families achieve stability and economic success. We make sure families can earn living wages while having the support and training necessary to advance in their careers. Besides the employment aspect of stability, we ensure that the individuals have the support networks available to guide and assist with other essential aspects of stability such as responsible fatherhood, healthy relationships, and education.

Q: Can you tell me a little about the Baltimore Responsible Fatherhood Project?

A: In 1993, while working as a Baltimore City Health Department social worker, Joseph T. Jones, Jr. recognized that there were few resources available for fathers. In response to the lack of resources, the Baltimore Responsible Fatherhood Project (BRFP) delivers services through a comprehensive five-month cohort model, which consists of case management, support service referrals, and educational workshops. The BRFP focuses on four key elements: manhood responsibilities, healthy relationships, parenting, and fiscal management. Through these elements the program is able to increase the fathers’ emotional and financial support for their children and families.

Q: CFUF also operates a workforce development program. In what ways is this interconnected with the responsible fatherhood project?

A: We prefer to look at responsible fatherhood with a holistic approach. When an individual enters into many programs instead of one, they get to their end goal faster because they are all inter-related issues. Most people come to CFUF looking for jobs and employment; this opens the door to other programs though. Following assessment it is often revealed what other services the individual will benefit from.  We are able to provide wrap-around services that include education, employment, and responsible fatherhood. Having all these programs in one place makes it easy and convenient for individuals to get all the support they need.

Q: How do you measure success in your programs?

A: We look at three different categories when measuring success. The first is if the individual is employed, saving money, managing their finances, and budgeting correctly. These help us learn if the individual is on their way to financial independence and success. The next measure is if the father is aware of their child support payments, paying on time, and increasing the amount they are paying. An essential step towards healthy relationships and responsible fatherhood is being financially responsible to oneself and to your children and family. The last major measure of success is the father’s involvement in their child’s life. This is usually the most difficult measure to track because it includes involvement in shopping, education, doctor care, and social life which are all often self-reported by the father.

Q: Established in 2011, CFUF started the Practitioners Leadership Institute (PLI). What is the PLI?

A: The Practitioners Leadership Institute (PLI) is a nationally focused initiative designed to provide responsible fatherhood, workforce development and family strengthening practitioners with experiences, skills and information that will strengthen their ability to improve outcomes for low-income fathers and families, impacting black male achievement. The leadership academy is an eight month program for ten practitioners each year. Through this engaging process of face-to-face meetings and webinars, PLI is able to help the practitioners enhance their capacity, networks, access, training, and resources. The PLI also includes the Knowledge Center, which is an online toolkit that enables individuals to remain connected to critical resources and information that will help advance the field.

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About National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity

Heartland Alliance’s National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity is dedicated to ending chronic unemployment and poverty. We believe that every person deserves the opportunity to succeed in work and support themselves and their families. Through our field building, we provide support and guidance that fosters more effective and sustainable employment efforts. Our policy and advocacy work advances solutions to the systemic issues that drive chronic unemployment.

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