Sebastian County Agencies Support Paternal Engagement

The 100 Families Alliance, a collaborative initiative in Sebastian County, prioritizes father-inclusive practices resulting in better outcomes for families.
Abbie Cox, 100 Families Initiative of Sebastian County Coordinator, with Eric L. Pokorny, father of 3-year old daughter and participant in 100 Families.
Abbie Cox, 100 Families Initiative of Sebastian County Coordinator, with Eric L. Pokorny, father of 3-year old daughter and participant in 100 Families.

Historically, there has been an assumption, and consequently a standard practice, of regarding mothers as primary caregivers thereby excluding or disregarding the involvement of fathers. This is particularly true of fathers who have a criminal record or have been impacted by adverse experiences.

Research shows though that paternal involvement is worth fighting for.

According to a brief developed by National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, a positive fathering role in a child’s life can:

  • Affirm love for the child.

  • Improve a child’s socio-emotional and behavioral development.

  • Enhance a child’s cognitive skills and academic performance.

  • Increase the likelihood of a child’s academic success.

  • Decrease the likelihood of juvenile delinquency.

One example of this can be found in the personal experience of Eric L. Pokorny. After struggling with substance abuse and instability, Pokorny's daughter was removed from his custody and things seemed hopeless.

"I didn't think I was going to get out...I didn't think I was going to be able to get my daughter back." Pokorny says he had the will to get his daughter back, but he didn't know how to make it happen or where to start.

"100 Families made me feel human again," says Pokorny and that made all the difference in motivating and equipping him to become the father his daughter needed.

100 Families made me feel human again
Eric L. Pokorny, father of a 3-year old daughter and 100 Families participant.

Pokorny's recovery and parenting journey are still ongoing as he continues to put in the work and make progress toward meeting custody requirements. Currently, he is allowed unsupervised 6-hour home visits and anticipates good news at his next court date in July. 

Promoting paternal involvement and engagement is a standard policy and practice of the 100 Families Initiative of Sebastian County and it has led to measurable prevention in foster care and recidivism. Members of this alliance have found that many fathers are willing to invest and be involved in their children's lives.

Smart Justice is a magazine, podcast, and continuing news coverage from the nonprofit Restore Hope and covers the pursuit of better outcomes on justice system-related issues, such as child welfare, incarceration, and juvenile justice. Our coverage is solutions-oriented, focusing on the innovative ways in which communities are solving issues and the lessons that have been learned as a result of successes and challenges. 

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