Program Coordinator of Community Action Commission of Erie, Huron, and Richland Counties (CACEHR) Jennifer Jennette and Family Engagement and Outreach (FEO) Coordinator at OSU-Mansfield, Renee Thompson filled the county commissioners in on the latest updates regarding the Fatherhood Initiative during Thursday morning’s commissioner meeting.

Last month, Richland County joined 17 other Ohio counties to participate in the Fatherhood Initiative—an initiative which is grounded in the principle of improving the well-being of children through the promotion of responsible fatherhood.

“Our Ohio fatherhood commission is the only one of its kind in the country. Ohio is the only state that has a fatherhood commission,” said Thompson.

Jennette reported the initiative’s progress, stating that next week, community leaders will convene at Mansfield Senior High School and will discuss what Richland County’s needs are regarding fatherhood.

Expressing their support for the initiative are the Child Support Enforcement Agency, Richland County Children Services, several faith-based organizations, and the Richland County commissioners. Jennette said that many individuals have also voiced their support, including Judge Heather Cockley and Shelby Mayor Marilyn John.

“We want to make sure it’s a Richland County effort,” said Jennette.

Thompson added, “It’s important in these types of initiatives where funding is so limited, not just statewide but nationally as well, that you have collaborative efforts and look at how you can fill in the gaps. And that’s to a large degree what this effort will do.”

As part of the initiative, a group of people will be trained courtesy of the Ohio Commission on Fatherhood staff, fatherhood practitioners and leaders from other counties who have already completed the training. It will consist of webinars, workshops, and technical assistance.

Further, Richland County will receive a $10,000 seed grant to begin or continue fatherhood programs in the county. “The money will be determined its use through the process of developing this initiative,” said Jennette.

Commissioner Ed Olson advised, “I really, strongly urge this initiative to look at what is already in existence and expand them. To me I think the leading candidate would be Parent Aide.”

Jennette assured the commissioners that the initiative is committed to not duplicating services in the area.

“I think this initiative is one of those unmet needs in the community,” said Commissioner Ed Olson. 

“Our Ohio fatherhood commission is the only one of its kind in the country. Ohio is the only state that has a fatherhood commission,” said Renee Thompson.

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