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Dorchester Program Helping Fathers To Rebuild Celebrates Graduation

DORCHESTER (CBS) -- While many celebrated high school and college graduations this May and June, 19 men in Boston were rewarded with a different type of graduation at Boston Municipal Court Wednesday.

"As a result of participating in this 12-week program, several of the fathers--some who believed they would never be granted visitation--reconnected with their children, improved their relationships with them, and/or are one step closer to becoming a bigger part of their children's lives," said Coria Holland from the Dorchester Fatherhood Program.

The program, a type of probation in Dorchester, says they focus on teaching fathering skills, self-exploration, common sense, and historical/cultural awareness.

"From day one, we go right in there and address the tough topics," said Assistant Chief Probation Officer Vanthomas Straughter, who helps run the program with Probation Officer II Cyril Jaundoo. "We talk to them about their character, their values and how this impacts them and their children."

Probation Commissioner Edward J. Dolan said, "Fatherhood Programs benefit the community and reconnect fathers to their children. By participating, fathers enhance pro-social behaviors, problem-solving and communications skills. This promotes law-abiding behavior that contributes to public safety."

Over 2,500 fathers have graduated from Fatherhood Programs across the state -- 300 from the Dorchester program -- since their introduction in 1994.

All of the programs are based on the "Five Principles of Fatherhood," according to Straughter: "As a father it is my responsibility to 1) Give affection to my children; 2) Give gentle guidance to my children; 3) Provide financial support to my children and the mother of my children; 4) Demonstrate respect at all times to the mother of my children; and 5) Set a proud example for my children by living within the law and without the taint of alcohol/drug abuse."

He added, "Your job is to get home safe. How do you do that when you're confronted with situations? You have to stop and think, 'What's most important?'"

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