United States Department of Health & Human Services

HHS’ Fatherhood Initiative

Around the Regions:
Region 2

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Region 2 Home Page
New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands

Mary Ann Higgins
Regional Administrator
Department of Health and Human Services
Administration for Children and Families
26 Federal Plaza, Room 4114
New York, NY 10278
Phone: 212-264-2890, ext. 103
Fax: 212-264-4881

Regional Activity

As part of the Region II community education efforts the Region has conducted extensive outreach efforts to, continue to educate communities and programs about the programs, services and special initiatives sponsored by ACF.

The office of Child Support Enforcement has developed an extensive collection of training materials for use during training and community activities, they include: a video tape for use in training of community organizations that is extremely interactive and includes the following vignettes: Child Support case hearing, group discussion of Head Start fathers and their experience with Child Support, Presentation by Director of the New York City Child Support Court System, a Power Point Presentation (English and Spanish) about the Child Support Enforcement and its services and its relationship to Fatherhood Initiatives has been developed for use during presentation in community organizations, a Child Support/Fatherhood Workshop titled: "Why Should Child Support be part of your Fatherhood Initiative." This workshop has been presented widely throughout Head Start Centers in New York City.

In partnership with the City of New York Child Support Enforcement program we developed a series of theatrical skits portraying day to day child support enforcement cases. They included the case of a man in an "In-hospital paternity establishment" scenario, a court hearing scenario; and a domestic violence child support case interview. All three scenarios were presented at the Parent Involvement Conference of the National Head Start Association conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, and were very well received. In addition, both federal staff and New York City staff have been invited to present this workshop at other related venues.

As part of our special efforts to work with the incarcerated community we have developed two workshops and established solid relationships with national organizations working with incarcerated men. We competed and were selected to present at the National American Correctional Association and American Parole and Probation Association on the importance of child support arrears in the process of re-integration.

Outreach to major organizations working with the incarcerated population in the New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania area to explore the feasibility of on-going dialogue with criminal justice officials.

In the area of Head Start we have been providing consultant services to Head Start programs in the Region, fatherhood consultant days were distributed throughout the region. Expert consultants in the area of father involvement were available to provide technical assistance to Early Head Start and Head Start grantees in the form of one-on-one technical assistance and cluster sessions. One-on-one technical assistance was provided to those grantees that were not able to participate in the cluster sessions. During the one-on-one meetings, a grantee had the opportunity to assess their existing father involvement efforts and to develop a strategic plan of action for father involvement. Several fatherhood cluster sessions were conducted throughout the region.

The fatherhood cluster session focused on the following: promoting the National Head Start Initiative for Father Involvement, providing Early Head Start and Head Start grantees with the Building Blocks for Father Involvement resources exploring with grantees successes and challenges that they have experienced when promoting father involvement supporting grantees as they develop plan of actions to support and promote father involvement providing grantees with useful resources such as father involvement curriculums, etc.

As a result of cluster session evaluation throughout the region and with input from the programs training was delivered in the following manner: assist agencies to improve how they are communicating with families about father involvement, increase efforts to promote father involvement gather information on the strengths and needs of the fathers in the program in order to tailor the services provided, assess the program to ensure that it is father-friendly, determine the status of the program in regards to father involvement and implement strategies that will support the program.

State Activity

New Jersey

Fatherhood Training: Numerous programs in New Jersey had the opportunity to receive one-on-one technical assistance in the area of father involvement. Fatherhood consultants' visited their programs and provided support to them as they focused on strengthening their programs.

TANF. The following are several Work First New Jersey (WFNJ) TANF program activities that encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families:

WFNJ Step Parent Provision. In WFNJ, individuals who marry cash assistance recipients are not held financially responsible for the recipient's children. This promotes marriage and stabilizes families.

New Jersey Responsible Parenting Program. The New Jersey Responsible Parenting Program is an interdepartmental initiative that seeks to:

The Responsible Parenting Program was formally established through a Memorandum of Agreement between the Department of Corrections and the Department of Human Services. The MOA allows for the disposition of funds under the TANF Program for operational costs including contracts to service providers. Eligibility for the Responsible Parenting Program includes being:

The Responsible Parenting Program is designed to:

The Responsible Parenting Program services include:

New Jersey Earned Income Tax Program: New Jersey has enacted legislation (P.L. 2000, c.80, enacted August 14, 2000) to establish a New Jersey Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) program. This program will further promote work and job retention by supplementing the incomes of low-income working families as they move up the career ladder and remain independent from public assistance. For purposes of the New Jersey Earned Income Tax Program and claiming of State MOE funds, the definition of a "qualifying child" parallels that found in the Internal Revenue Code used for Federal Income Tax reporting purposes. The New Jersey EITC program is available to families with annual earned incomes of $20,000 or less.

Supporting Two-Parent Families: New Jersey operates a comprehensive state-funded program to support marriage and two-parent families by providing the same services and employment and work activities as those provided to TANF eligible families. Non-financial and financial eligibility is consistent with federal TANF and WFNJ criteria.

New York

Access and Visitation. The federal grant for access and visitation is flexible funding for programs to support and facilitate non-custodial parents' access to and visitation with their children through counseling, mediation, education, development of parenting plans and visitation enforcement through supervised visitation, therapeutic supervised visitation, monitored child exchange and monitored visitation. New York has contracted with the following organizations to provide A&V services in 2004:

CSE Employment Project: In New York City the Child Support Enforcement Program recognizes that it can't collect child support from a parent who has no source of income. That scenario leaves the child support system without a way of helping the children of the unemployed community. Therefore, they have joined forces with community-based organizations and Family Court to implement STEP (Step Through Employment Program). This program allows participants the opportunity to obtain job training and placement services with the goal of satisfying their child support obligations.

STEP was implemented in February 2002 as a pilot project in Manhattan, one of NYC's 5 boroughs. Manhattan Family Court hears all of the City's TANF related child support cases, in addition to the non-public assistance cases originating in that borough. STEP is open to any non-custodial parent appearing in court for a child support hearing. The only requirement for STEP is an apparent inability to pay child support due to unemployment or underemployment.

The success of STEP depends on the cooperation of Family Court and the active participation of the organizations providing services. Since the implementation of STEP, 4136 NCPs have been referred for interviews. Of that number, 3078 have participated, 836 have been placed in jobs. The median hourly rate earned in employment is $8.38. There are currently 22 programs providing job training and placement.

Early Head Start/Head Start: Several fatherhood cluster sessions were offered to Early Head Start and Head Start programs in New York City and throughout New York State.

Puerto Rico

Early Head Start/Head Start: Several fatherhood cluster sessions were offered to Early Head Start and Head Start programs in Puerto Rico. These clusters were held in Bayamon, Caguas and San Juan. Programs throughout Puerto Rico attended these one-day sessions.

The Family and Community Partnership Early Head Start/Head Start cluster in Puerto Rico sponsored "El 3er Encuentro Nacional del Varon." During this event fathers from all programs in Puerto Rico were invited to participate. "El 3er Encuentro Nacional del Varon" focused on promoting and supporting father involvement.

CSE. Asume Al Dia is a professional theatre group funded by IV-D that performs in prisons to reinforce responsible fatherhood. Audience consists of inmates with child support obligations (but open to anyone with interest.). The project is co-sponsored by IV-D and Dept. of Corrections.

The presentation uses props, backdrops, and music. Various scenes reinforce responsible fatherhood and explain the IV-D process. The presentation mixes information with light comedy. In addition to use of audience-appropriate language, wardrobe is based on inmate uniforms accessorized with wigs, hats, ties, glasses, etc, to establish bond between actors and audience. At the conclusion of each presentation, IV-D staff with laptops connected to the IV-D automated system is available to provide appropriate IV-D services to the audience. While the majority of service requests relate to modifications, all types of requests, including order establishment, have been provided. Hundreds of service requests have been received to date.

The goal is to reach inmates in all prisons. The presentation has also been conducted in an institution housing female inmates. Plans are to expand the outreach program by establishing an agreement with the Dept. of Corrections to provide basic IV-D information to all inmates at time of intake.

Virgin Islands

The Virgin Island has a very innovative program called Dial-A-Dad, which is sponsored by the IV-D program (the Paternity and Child Support Division of the VI Dept of Justice), the Access and Visitation grantee and ATT. The program offers $10 calling cards (distributed at the IV-D office) to any parent in an inter-jurisdictional IV-D case, free of charge, to be specifically used for communications between a parent and a child if both are not residing in the VI. The recipient parent is required to keep a calling card log to verify proper use of the card. Upon expiration, the parent may request additional cards (no limit) if the calling card log is presented and verified by IV-D staff (IV-D is working with ATT on automatic verification). ATT is a co-sponsor by virtue of providing the $10 cards at a discount. The program was implemented in FY03 and is very popular with parents, children and IV-D staff. Current plans call for a continuation of the program and development of an automated "proper use" verification system using ATT in-house technology.

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Last updated June 29, 2005


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