FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 16, 2017
Contact Name: Raymond Levy, PsyD
The Fatherhood Project at MGH
Teaming Up For Dads in Recovery
Three Massachusetts programs are collaborating to reconnect fathers recovering from addiction with their children.
Lowell, MA: The Fatherhood Project at MGH has teamed up with Billy Cabrera of The Resource & Reclamation Center and the Child Support Enforcement Division of the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR)* to offer an innovative program to fathers in substance use recovery in the greater Lowell area. Cabrera, a former heroin addict who spent time in prison, now dedicates his time to helping men reclaim their lives from the clutches of addiction and incarceration. He has built a safe haven and sense of community for these men at his business, Billy’s Barber Shop, where The Resource & Reclamation Center operates. The Fatherhood Project (TFP) has partnered with him to offer their innovative Dads in Recovery program there, which provides fathers recovering from addiction a chance to reconnect with their children and parent effectively, leading to a powerful reason to remain sober. DOR is allocating a portion of the federal Access and Visitation grant to fund this initiative.
“Research shows that addiction driven behaviors damage family relationships, leaving fathers with a negative or limited relationship with their children, uncertainty about their role in the family and a powerful sense of guilt and shame,” says TFP Executive Director Raymond Levy. “Disengagement negatively impacts a father’s mental health and his children’s ability to reach positive behavioral, emotional and academic outcomes, fueling a multi-generational cycle of parental abandonment and substance abuse.”
Led by TFP Director of Programs John Badalament, Dads in Recovery is an evidence-based program that provides fathers recovering from addiction with psycho-educational counseling that supports their recovery, and helps them to:
- Establish or repair their relationship with their children
- Parent with increased skills, confidence and competence
- Understand aspects of child development
“I got to see my kids for the first time in six months.”
Louis, a participant of the program felt its impact immediately. “We did this activity, Your Fatherhood Legacy, and I had almost a physical reaction. I realized that I could leave a different legacy for my kids. We also used role-playing to practice talking to our co-parents. Using those lessons, I had a successful probate court appearance with my ex-wife to discuss my visitation rights and was able to focus on the best interest of our children. Because of that I got to see my kids for the first time in six months.”
Cabrera, a well-known and respected presence in Lowell, recruits fathers for the program from his relationships with local recovery homes, and does follow up work with group members.
The Fatherhood Project is a non-profit program at Massachusetts General Hospital. Their mission is to improve the health and well-being of children and families by empowering fathers to be knowledgeable, active, and emotionally engaged with their children.
*DOR is the single state agency in the Commonwealth responsible for the administration of the child support enforcement program. DOR provides services to individuals and families, whether or not they receive public assistance, to establish paternity and to establish, enforce, and modify child support orders. DOR also provides child support information and assistance to individuals through its partnerships, with veterans, re-entry and fatherhood programs, as well with correctional facilities.