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Newport News Now

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Newport News Now is a daily e-newsletter that launched in March 2016. Articles that ran in our newsletter between March 2016 and March 2018 are available on these pages. Newsletters produced beginning in April 2018 can be viewed on our new daily newsletter page.

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Jun 17

Fatherhood Program Teaches Men in Jail How to be Better Fathers

Posted on June 17, 2016 at 8:45 AM by Communications Department

Father’s Day came early this year for seven men in the Newport News City Jail. They believe they’ll be better fathers because of a class offered to them behind bars. They learned parenting skills and the importance of ‘being there’ for their children in the InsideOut Dad® fatherhood program, a staple of Sheriff Gabe Morgan’s re-entry program since 2013. The program is a partnership between the Newport News Department of Human Services and the Newport News Sheriff’s Office.
InsideOut Dad_SC
Twice a week for six weeks, they work on topics including: self-awareness, child development, discipline, spirituality, handling emotions, being a man and relationships with their child’s mother. Caring for self, parenting skills, fathering skills and relationship skills are the five characteristics of an InsideOut Dad®.

Shawn O’Keefe, Youth Programs Specialist with the City of Newport News, teaches the course. He is a single father with primary physical custody of his two children so he wants to help other fathers be the best parents they can be. O’Keefe was trained to become a certified instructor by the National Fatherhood Initiative, creator of the InsideOut Dad® program. “Since this is a voluntary program, the men who go through it are motivated to be successful fathers,” O’Keefe explains. So far, 107 inmates in the Newport News City Jail have completed the program. National Fatherhood Initiative says InsideOut Dad® helps reduce the number of men returning to jail by reconnecting incarcerated fathers to their families, providing the motivation to get out and stay out.

“This is a great program because its results are quantifiable,” O’Keefe explains. He cited a 2011 Rutgers University study, which reviewed the program inside three New Jersey correctional facilities. It found that InsideOut Dad® works, noting “significant changes across confidence, knowledge, behavior, and attitude variables” when comparing results of 300 men who went through the program to a control group that did not. The organization believes “widespread fatherlessness is the most socially consequential problem of our time.”