June 5, 2023 (Lincoln) -- Today, Governor Jim Pillen signed a proclamation declaring June "Fatherhood Awareness Month" in the state of Nebraska. During the ceremony, the Governor highlighted the success of The Fatherhood Initiative, a statewide program of Lutheran Family Services (LFS), in partnership with Legal Aid of Nebraska and RISE, and with the support of Sarpy County and other local governments.
"We see how this program is changing lives, every day," says Kevin Flores, LFS Fatherhood Director. "It is so worth it when we can give fathers the tools they need to be a good and involved parent. By working with Legal Aid and RISE, we can give these parents hope they could not imagine before."
The Fatherhood Initiative exists to serve all non-custodial fathers wanting to better connect or re-engage with their children and learn how to be better parents. The Fatherhood Initiative staff of case managers, supervisors, trainers and employment specialists assist fathers in their efforts to overcome struggles and improve their lives for the overall betterment of the family. The program served 244 fathers in 2022, and has impacted the lives of nearly 600 children since its inception.
The Sarpy County Corrections Department works with LFS to deliver the Fatherhood Initiative program to non-custodial fathers incarcerated in the Sarpy County jail.
Incarcerated fathers meet twice a week for six weeks to learn to become better fathers, how to reconnect with their children, foster loving relationships, develop impactful parenting and co-parenting skills, and improve employment readiness and financial literacy that subsequently improve the quality of life for their children.
“We know that engaged fathers are more committed to their families and more invested in being productive members of society, which leads to better outcomes for their children and our community. We’re proud to be part of a program that gives fathers at our jail the tools they need to connect with their kids and break intergenerational cycles of incarceration,” said Jim Warren, Vice Chair of the Sarpy County Board of Commissioners.
Sixty incarcerated, non-custodial fathers in Sarpy County have participated in the Fatherhood Initiative classes, including 20 who have graduated from the program.
“The odds are stacked against children whose fathers have been incarcerated, but the Fatherhood Initiative helps change that. Over the last two years, we’ve seen 20 non-custodial fathers successfully build effective parenting skills and learn how to establish nurturing relationships that can help set up their kids for a better childhood,” said Lauren Reed, Sarpy County Corrections reentry coordinator.
"RISE's mission, to break generational cycles of incarceration, is further encouraged by the work that this initiative highlights. We see incarcerated fathers practicing from the inside out how they can be vested in their children's lives. This allows both currently and formerly incarcerated fathers to be loving parents, proud role models and supportive figures for the next generation." said Erica Raetz, RISE Director of Reentry Services.
Studies show that involved fathers can make all the difference in a child's opportunities for success. Children of engaged fathers are twice as likely to go to college, 80% less like to spend time in jail, and 75% less likely to experience teen pregnancy.
Speakers, featured in photo, from left to right:
- Eric Moore, RISE Re-entry Coordinator
- Andrew Schill, Legal Aid of Nebraska
- Lauren Reed, Sarpy County Re-entry Coordinator
- Governor Jim Pillen
- Jessica Welstead, Lutheran Family Services
- Senator Rob Clements
- Sarpy County Commissioner Jim Warren
About Lutheran Family Services
Founded as an orphanage in 1892, Lutheran Family Services is now the largest human care organization in Nebraska and Western Iowa. Every year, its employees deliver exceptional service to thousands of children, individuals, and families through 47 programs. A broad spectrum of services range from foster care and children’s behavioral health to helping human trafficking victims and newly resettled refugees. You can find a full list of programs here. LFS is a 2023 recipient of the Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for Ethics.
Media Contact: Bev Carlson
About Sarpy County
Sarpy County is the fastest-growing county in the state of Nebraska, attracting new residents, visitors, businesses and jobs each year. Sarpy County is home to the cities of Bellevue, Papillion, La Vista, Gretna and Springfield, as well as Offutt Air Force Base. In less than 20 minutes, you can travel from the vibrant urban centers to beautiful outdoor recreational areas and activities. More information is available at Sarpy.gov.
Media Contact: Katy Glover