How We Came To Be
FFHC initiated its work in 2002 as the Fathers, Families, and Healthy Communities (FFHC) Consortium. The FFHC consortium was a working group of: social service and community development practitioners; applied researchers and academics; and public policy experts. These collaborating partners conceived of the FFHC Demonstration Project to advance social service program connectivity to form the foundation for an integrated set of family strengthening community-based services for African American non-custodial fathers and their families. Members of the FFHC Consortium had worked together for over two decades.
Some Consortium members worked on the Paternal Involvement Demonstration Project (PIP)— an innovative father involvement and family support initiative that took place in Illinois in the mid 1990s. In addition to their program experience, policy and advocacy expertise, and research acumen, FFHC Consortium members shared their unique insights and knowledge of promising practices, and leverage their national and local leadership to support the FFHC Demonstration Project. The Chicago Jobs Council (CJC) served as the fiscal agent for the FFHC Demonstration Project and also was a project partner. The Chicago Community Trust and Open Society Foundations served as the founding investors in the project.
The overall goal of the FFHC Demonstration Project was to infuse promising practices found in the responsible fatherhood field into the human and social service delivery networks within the City of Chicago in order to improve non-custodial fathers’ engagement with their families such that it improves the physical, developmental, emotional, and financial outcomes for their children. In the course of the design of the FFHC Demonstration, key barriers to the improved engagement of African-American non-custodial fathers were identified, based on the best and promising practice literature in the responsible fatherhood field and borne out by the over 20 years of experience of the FFHC Demonstration’s designers.
The demonstration’s co-designers, Sequane Lawrence and Dr. Kirk E. Harris contemplated a strategy that would leverage community assets (opportunities, services, and support in the community) resulting in more comprehensive and better coordinated service delivery for African American non-custodial fathers, thus gathering the necessary complement of resources that would lend support to non-custodial African-American fathers as assets to their children and families. Additionally, the designers recognized that fathers and their families must receive assistance to navigate the demands of human and social service systems, while addressing the social isolation and disadvantage that these families experience, which often compromises the integrity of the family relationships.
In 2012, FFHC was incorporated and attained its 501(c)(3) tax exempt status in June 2014 and officially moved out of its demonstration phase into its phase as an independent and viable non-profit organization. As a part of FFHC’s evolving history, in 2015 FFHC became a collaborating affiliate of Chicago Center for Arts and Technology
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