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DHS News December 2011    

PDF Icon DHS News December 2011

DHS Holiday Project and Pittsburgh Steelers benefit Dads Assisting Dads (DADS) Program

On Dec. 12, the DHS Holiday Project, a program run out of the DHS Office of Community Relations, partnered with the Pittsburgh Steelers to host an autograph-signing session benefiting the Dads Assisting Dads (DADS) program in the DHS Office of Children, Youth and Families. 

The DADS program began in May 2010 to engage custodial and non-custodial fathers involved in the DHS Office of Children, Youth and Families (CYF), as well as to develop trainings focused on father-engagement principles and offer them to CYF and provider staff. Through increased engagement, DADS aims to give fathers more confidence in their role as fathers, as well as in child-welfare-related courtroom settings, with the ultimate goal of strengthening their families and being reunified with their child(ren).

Steelers Safety Ryan Clark signs a football for one of the kids in the DADS program.
Steelers Safety Ryan Clark signs a football for one of the kids in the DADS program
Nearly 60 kids and their fathers involved with DADS had the opportunity to meet Steelers Safeties Ryan Clark and Ryan Mundy in the Liberty Conference Room of the Human Services Building and receive a football signed by both players.

“On behalf of the fathers and kids who participated in this wonderful event, I’d like to thank the Pittsburgh Steelers and the staff of the DHS Holiday Project for making this possible,” said Jerry Harvey, co-facilitator for the DADS program. “We truly appreciate the efforts made by both to make the holidays a little more special for some of our families.”

About DADS
DADS taps into the strength of peer support to assist fathers of all ages, backgrounds and cultures navigate family court, the child welfare system and other human services systems, thereby helping them strengthen their effectiveness as fathers and mentors. The children of DADS members may be receiving services in their homes, or they may be receiving services in out-of-home placement.

Two DADS facilitators conduct bi-monthly meetings and organize events. The meetings are member-driven as they respond to discussion topics identified by the active members. Guest speakers are invited to talk on a range of topics, including local, state and federal laws pertaining to child welfare and the rights of parents and fathers; what to expect at court hearings; important aspects of family safety (e.g., weapons safety, criminal activity, domestic abuse, nutrition, education, drug and alcohol abuse); how to meet the challenges of Family Service Plans; and most important – permanency planning/reunification.

Children are invited to attend the meetings with their fathers and are given the option of contributing to the conversation or, if more appropriate, engaging in age-appropriate, supervised activities. Once a father has attended a DADS meeting, they are permitted to continue attending for ongoing support even after their official involvement with CYF has ended. When a member attends 26 meetings (approximately one year), he is considered a graduate and receives a commemorative shirt and a certificate.

Each quarter, special forums are presented that include a panel of distinguished speakers. Forums, like the regular meetings, also include a meal and provide an ideal opportunity for seasoned veterans and newcomers to the child welfare system to engage in a give-and-take of information.

Events are organized as bonding opportunities for fathers and their children. Outings have included visits to the Carnegie Science Center, Steelers training camp in Latrobe, and a par-three golf course. For the first time, in June 2011, father and son members of DADS attended the NFL-sponsored All-Pro Dads event. Because of its instant appeal, DADS opted to join the All-Pro Dads organization. As a member, DADS receives printed materials to enhance the existing program and encourage participation.   

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