RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) - Father's Day is on Sunday, and this week there's a renewed focus on the role dads have in their children's lives. Today Richmond hosted the Virginia Family and Fatherhood Symposium. Leaders from all over the state were there to drive home the message that kids need both parents.
One of the participants was Robert Bradley. "Without a good parent a child has no direction. They don't have a chance," says Bradley outside Trinity Family Life Center which sponsored today's Symposium. Bradley's four kids, ranging in age from 15 to 26, are never too far away. He keep their pictures on his phone and never forgets his responsibility to them. "To make sure my kids have everything they need to be productive citizens."
Trinity Family Life Center opened its doors in 2009 to support all family members, including dads. It works with the Richmond Family and Fatherhood Initiative and other municipal, private and faith-based programs to provide dads with education and services.
"Richmond is a very interesting city," says Chad Morris, the Chief Program Officer at Trinity Family Life Center. He explains 60% of City households are run by single parents. Whether a father is involved in his kids' lives can affect everything from behavior in school to graduation and teen pregnancy rates.
"The most important maxim I've heard in this work is just because Dad's not around doesn't mean he's not around or doesn't want to be around. He may not be at home, but his presence is still needed by these children," says Morris as he describes how his Center guides fathers. The men take part in support groups and have access to mental health and workforce development services.
"Regardless of demographic lines, regardless of race, in our community our children are in need of both their mothers and fathers," Morris talks about what he sees in the Richmond area. His program encourages fathers to be fathers to improve their own families and communities. "Just as it takes two to make a child it's necessary for two to be engaged in raising that child."
This week the U.S. Department of Health and Human services and other groups also launched a national campaign called Take Time to Be a Dad. Public service announcements communicate how fathers can be involved in their children's lives, even if they're often away.
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