As a nation, our laws are generally very thorough and comprehensive. Anyone who has ever tried to file taxes on their own knows this all too well. Our laws are particularly comprehensive when it comes to our children. We have laws mandating what immunizations a child must receive; when, where, and how often a child must go to school; and laws limiting child labor.
“Where is the leadership?” I hear this too often in our work to improve life outcomes for vulnerable children. Why aren’t the candidates talking about the future and calling on investments in early childhood education, summer youth employment opportunities, or community-based solutions for youth justice—all proven to generate financial and well-being benefits far in excess of the costs?
During my time at Penn State Harrisburg, I had the opportunity to assist staff members on several research projects while I worked as a research and graduate assistant. I had also written a thesis as part of the Master’s program requirements. After these experiences, I was convinced that analyzing criminological data and researching justice issues was what I was truly passionate about.
Beginning last winter, I was assisted by several volunteers: lawyers, social workers, law students and an eighth grade teacher, as we struggled against great odds to teach 25-30 eighth graders to operate a youth court. Each Thursday morning, we would enter the classroom as the students waited apprehensively for the lesson plan to begin. We wanted them to participate but often, many were not interested. The children were in an overcrowded classroom due to financial constraints.
I for one care! I believe the presence of fathers matter, not only to their children, but their families, and communities as well. In that regard, I am committed to formal family formation by men wanting to start families by having children, and the reunification of men who are already fathers but have been estranged from their children and families.