The Connecticut Fatherhood Initiative (CFI) is a broad-based, statewide collaborative effort led by the Department of Social Services, focused on changing the systems that can improve fathers’ ability to be fully and positively involved in the lives of their children.
First implemented after the passage of legislation in 1999, state and local partners have been working together for two decades to make changes to policy and practice in order to better meet the needs of fathers, with an emphasis on those who may not be living in the same households with their children.
While focused on fathers, the efforts of the CFI are not done at the expense of mothers. Children are at the heart of this collaborative effort of state and local partners. We focus on supports for fathers in order to not just help them in their fathering role, but also to support mothers and children. It is not an either/or situation, and we do not seek to take services from one to give to the other.
Connecticut was the first state in the country to pass legislation on fatherhood – many states before us had Governor’s Commissions or Councils, but no one legislatively required the work. Key leaders at the local and state levels in our state came together for a common goal, as they continued to see children who had been impacted by father-absence and recognized this was a nonpartisan issue.
The late John S. Martinez , former Connecticut State Representative in New Haven, played an integral role in the passage of the legislation, which had bi-partisan support and was comprehensive and instructive truly an example of comprehensive social policy reflecting a desire and vision to effect positive change for fathers, families and children in Connecticut. Therefore, after he passed away in 2002 from injuries sustained in a car accident, the initiative was renamed in his honor.
Recognizing the continued work of all CFI partners across the state whether at the state or local level, in 2015 upon the completion of the Strategic Plan the partners agreed the working name for our efforts will be the Connecticut Fatherhood Initiative.