Domestic Violence Program Utilizes Fathers' Desire to Parent as Impetus for Change
Fathers for Change is a domestic violence program that uses fathers’ desire to be close with their children to produce change.
“Fathers for Change takes a holistic look at families experiencing intimate partner violence and builds on the fathers’ desire to parent his children as the impetus to create change,” explained Jacquelyn Farrell, LCSW, the assistant director of Family Centered Services of CT.
Family Centered Services is one of the non-profit organizations offering Fathers for Change and the Intimate Partner Violence – Family Assessment Intervention Response (IPV-FAIR) program that serves the affected mothers and children as well.
“Most men really want to be good fathers for their children and care what their children think of them,” affirmed Ms. Farrell. “Fathers for Change uses fatherhood as a motivation for change.”
Men in the program are assigned a case manager called a “family navigator” as well as a clinician who meets with them individually on a weekly basis. One of the major components of the clinical counseling is to improve the father’s ability to co-parent with the mother, Ms. Farrell pointed out.
“How can you be a better co-parent? You still have a child together, so how can you co-parent in a way that is healthy for the child?” she asked. “The counseling is focused on how you can be a better parent and provide a supportive environment for the child.”
In addition to counseling and the case management, Ms. Farrell said parents get support with basic necessities such as utilities, housing and food. Families also get help with safety planning and going to court if necessary.
“We provide a tremendous amount of support that parents need,” she said of the program that lasts from four to six months.
Family Centered Services has the proof that the program works. Data shows that when parents receive the service, child exposure to conflicts decreases significantly, Ms. Farrell explained. The program also produced significant improvement in the mother’s assessment of the father’s abusive behavior. Finally, she highlighted the program's outstanding record of engaging fathers, with only one father withdrawing during 2020.
“Classic batterer programs don’t always have long term positive outcomes,” she said.