Giving Incarcerated Fathers Hope for the Future

When the Urban League of Greater Atlanta surveyed young fathers who were incarcerated but near their release date about their highest priorities, the expected answers were making money, getting a car, or finding a place to live. But the number one answer was surprising. For these young fathers, their highest priority was wanting to be the best parent they could be.

With that information in hand, The Urban League approached Families First to join forces with their Urban Youth Empowerment Program (UYEP) Young Fathers Program. Young adult fathers ages 18-24 with current or prior involvement with the criminal justice system who participate receive access to individualized case management, career advisement in high-demand industry sectors, educational enhancement opportunities, credential attainment, mentoring, career readiness training and employment opportunities.

The partnership began in February 2020 at the Douglas County Detention Center and was a success. This led to expansion in Cobb, Fulton, and Henry Counties with expansion to DeKalb County planned later this year.

“The investment these young men make in learning to be good fathers is impressive”

Paula Moody

While participating in the Urban League program, a Families First Navigator also works with the fathers to provide linkage to vocational services, Parenting Time services including access and visitation, legal resources such as the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, and internal referrals for Families First’s Behavioral Health Department.

Most importantly, we work to help these young men learn how to be the best parent possible. While incarcerated, the physical separation combined with the stigma of that incarceration or broken bonds with the family place obstacles between father and child. With the Urban League, Families First is breaking down those barriers.

Because of the investment of our donors in our mission, 20 young fathers have successfully completed the program since February 2020. With services briefly pausing due to COVID-19, the program is expected to reach an additional 50 young fathers by the end of the year.

“These men take this commitment more seriously than almost any other group of people we work with. When they complete the program, they are prepared for a fresh start with their children, have built resilience, and are equipped to lead successful lives after prison,” said Paula Moody, Chief Programs Officer at Families First.