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PTA Blog Talk

The Fathers Network--Part Two

Published April 8, 2009 1:42 PM by Jason Marketti
I met James May approximately 10 years ago when he was invited to speak at an Early Head Start program in Lewiston, Idaho. With multiple advanced degrees in Applied Behavioral Science and Mental Health (he is a licensed mental health counselor), and a year studying English and Psychology, he began the Washington State Fathers Network and the National Fathers Network, which focused on staff training and working with men whose children had pediatric AIDS, among other disabilities.  

After close to 20 years, May retired from the field. "It felt right," he says. He has written extensively about fathers with children who have special needs and received the Duncan Award last year for his dedication to children who have disabilities.

Greg Schell, director of the Washington State Fathers Network and co-founder of The Fathers Network, reports "We have an ongoing newsletter, a new 13-minute video for Spanish-speaking fathers whose children have a disability and continue to search for funding through state, federal and private donations," when asked what was new.     

Schell spent 15 years as an elementary school principal and noted that fathers and families need information that is relevant and timely. "One place we direct people to is www.wrightslaw.com, which provides families with a manual when dealing with IEPs and a difficult school district."

"We have a public health nursing network which helps identify those who are in need of services, and church groups can also help identify families who need assistance. What happens is that some fathers will hand off the childhood duties to their wife, but once they realize there are other fathers who are involved in the care of their children they are relieved and the overwhelming feelings can be dealt with through individual counseling.  We want to address the issues but not go too fast or too slow with them."

Visit www.fathersnetwork.org for more information.

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    Jason J. Marketti
    Occupation: Physical Therapist Assistant
    Setting: San Jacinto, CA
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