Engaging Fathers Newsletter - Fall 2023

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Fall 2023 Issue:

About Engaging Fathers

Fathers play an important role in every child's life. This role has an impact on a child's growth and helps shape their personality and development. An engaged father promotes healthy personal and interpersonal growth in children and youth and helps to instill an overall sense of well-being and security; while also providing a fundamental child developmental need of being a provider and protector.

DCYF's Engaging Fathers project (previously referred to as Fathers Matter) focuses on engaging fathers with children in the child welfare system. DCYF provides helpful resources and information about parenting that can empower a father to navigate the child welfare system successfully.

Fathers and their families are an important part of a child's life. They are the other half of a child's biological identity and heritage. Building positive relationships benefit everybody involved and can develop a sense of connection and family during what can feel like a stressful transitional experience for a child and a father.

Visit DCYF's Engaging Fathers Webpage!

Engaging Fathers | Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families

Resources for Fathers

Activities for Dads and Their Children

Father Recognized for Seeking Treatment, Services to Regain Custody of Daughter

loving family

Jesse Sadler took all the steps necessary to transform his life and regain custody of his daughter; he engaged in therapy, secured housing, participated in parenting classes, and attended a Substance Use Disorder treatment. This summer, the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) recognized his hard work and persistence by awarding him the inaugural Engaging Father Award following his successful reunification.

When Jesse was told he had been nominated and selected as the award recipient, he was overcome with emotions. Despite being nervous, he said he wanted to help fathers with his story.

"I didn't get the protection I needed as a child that my daughter did," said Sadler. "But a light clicked in my head, and now I will always give her my best."

Sadler had never parented his daughter when she was removed from her mother's care in 2020; even with her hours away, he began attempting to have her placed with him. He started with Promoting First Relationships (PFR) to support his connection and bond with his daughter.

"Jesse took all the steps to stabilize and get his daughter back in his care," said Abbie Jardine, a provider who nominated him for the award. "As he developed relationships with providers, he began to trust the process and the suggestions that were made."

Once his daughter was placed with him, Jesse received Family Preservation Services (FPS) to help him with discipline and establishing boundaries. He quit drugs "cold turkey" but began drinking, which led to his daughter being removed from his care following a DUI car accident with his daughter in the vehicle. Despite the setback and discouragement from engaging, Jesse received treatment, completed Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT), and secured housing. By March 2023, dependency was dismissed.

"Despite what had happened or what circumstances Jesse found himself in, he fought hard for his child," said Brenda Sullen, another provider who nominated him for the award. "I have been doing this work with families since 2000. I have never seen the determination and resilience that Jesse Sadler has shown in his fight to change his life for the love of his child."

Despite the fact that fathers play a critical role in a child's physical, emotional, and social development, child welfare agencies have historically not engaged enough with fathers. As a result, fathers are less willing to engage.

The Engaging Father award is part of DCYF's Engaging Fathers project (previously called Fathers Matter), an engagement effort for legal fathers with children in the child welfare system. DCYF received dozens of nominees from caseworkers, family members, and providers for fathers across the state who have had a successful outcome with their child welfare cases.

Sadler thanked his providers, therapist, and caseworker, Matthew Lang, for never giving up on him. In addition to his award, he received an all-expenses paid trip to Great Wolf Lodge to celebrate with his daughter.

"This award may be about me and my daughter, but it wouldn't have happened if it weren't for those five people. They showed me kindness, care, and love, which I never experienced," said Sadler. "It is not easy for any father, but fathers have been fighting."

Father Engages in Treatment, Regains Custody

family under a roof

"I worked with a father who struggled with substance use. He entered into a clean and sober living residential home. This father worked his program, attended meetings, and engaged in SUD treatment.

This father also participated in Family Reunification Court and eventually graduated the program. The children were initially meant to be placed back with their mother, but she fell out of contact and was heavy in substance use.

This father made the decision to continue to focus on his sobriety. He worked with his clean and sober living home and was able to get to overnights with his children. This father made the decision to leave the residential home and moved across the state to live with his mother and DCYF was able to place the children back in his care and eventually dismiss his case."

- Submitted by Social Service Specialist Timmie Rodriguez, Mount Vernon

Free Children's Books Through Dolly Parton's Program

family reading to kids

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library is a book gifting program that mails free, high-quality books to children from birth to age five. 

How It Works

  • Enroll your child online at www.imaginationlibrarywashington.org.
  • In 6-8 weeks, your child will receive their first
    book in the mail, 'The Little Engine That Could'.
  • Books arrive in the mail monthly until your child's 5th birthday.
  • Note: If the program is not available in your area, complete form to be notified should our program become available in your area.

For more information, visit www.imaginationlibrarywashington.org.

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