By James A. Jones, Field Engagement Coordinator, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity
This Father’s Day, as we honor the contributions of dads across the country, we’d like to highlight the needs of an often overlooked population: young fathers. Between 1990 and 2010, the teen pregnancy rate declined by 51 percent. However, that decline may have been even greater if there were an increase in efforts to engage young fathers. Traditionally, young mothers have been at the center of research, prevention, and assistance efforts. As a result, little is known about best practices in engaging young fathers. What we do know is that teen fathers are less likely than their peers to graduate from high school and subsequently face significant barriers to employment and economic stability.
The Dovetail Project is a Chicago-based organization whose sole mission is increasing employment opportunities and parenting skills of young, at-risk fathers. Sheldon Smith, founder of the Dovetail Project, started the organization to address an issue that shaped his life as well as countless other young men in his community: absent fathers. As the son of a young father, Sheldon endured his father’s absence and lack of financial and emotional support, the result of unemployment, incarceration, and no parenting skills. This left Sheldon with a burning desire to end the cycle of fatherless children when he became a dad at age 20. The National Initiatives team recently spoke with Sheldon about the Dovetail Project and the strategies he attributes to its success.
Exploring a New Resource: A Paper Released Today from the Council of State Governments Justice Center Offers “Integrated Reentry and Employment Strategies”
By Caitlin C. Schnur, Workforce Research and Policy Fellow, National Transitional Jobs Network
and Jonathan Philipp, Research and Policy Assistant, National Transitional Jobs Network
Each year, more than 650,000 individuals return to their communities from prison while millions more return home from jail. With overflowing correctional facilities and crunched state budgets, criminal justice policymakers and practitioners are increasingly working to ensure that returning citizens are not reincarcerated following their release. As a part of these successful reentry efforts, securing employment for formerly incarcerated individuals is critical—not only do returning citizens need immediate income to meet their basic needs, but incarcerated individuals who have been asked about their post-release plans report that being employed is crucial to their ability to stay crime-free. Despite wanting or needing to work, returning citizens face numerous barriers to employment including limited work histories, low educational attainment, and parole-mandated curfews or mobility restrictions. It’s not surprising, then, that employment providers who are focused on serving the chronically unemployed consistently serve large numbers of individuals with criminal records. Read More…
By Guest Bloggers: Stephan Haimowitz JD and John Rio MA, CRC, Advocates for Human Potential
Homelessness is a complex and persistent dilemma in rural as well as urban communities. The problem is a product of many factors, from generational poverty and disability to job loss and PTSD. For some, involvement with the criminal justice system is a collateral event contributing to their challenges to leave homelessness and joblessness. Even when permanently housed, idleness, limited income, and unaddressed personal problems threaten housing stability. Employment is a key element to leaving homelessness and can be a stabilizing factor for individuals and families. Practitioners in TJ programs know all too well how involvement in the criminal justice system complicates return to work efforts. Criminal justice involvement occurs for a variety of reasons, and for many it is related to the limited availability of behavioral health services or the war on drugs.