My Brother's Keeper: Teaching fathers and reuniting families

September 27, 2016

Maureen Fitzgerald
ATTC Network Coordinating Office/NIATx

Before she joined Santa Maria Hostel in Houston as director of the Maternal Initiative for Reflective Recovery-Oriented Residential Services (MIRRORS) program, Fayetta Bland worked with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

“There was always a need for more Big Brothers,” says Fayetta. “We had little trouble finding Big Sisters, but Big Brothers were in short supply.” 

That’s what gave her the idea to create My Brother’s Keeper, a support group that offers positive male mentoring for the fathers involved with the women in the MIRRORs program.

MIRRORS, a grantee of SAMHSA’s Pregnant and Parenting Women (PPW) project, provides medical and behavioral health services for pregnant and postpartum women and their families.
“One of the main goal of the MIRRORS program is family reunification,” explains Fayetta. “Many of the women in our program will return to the men in their lives, who will have a strong influence on the family. And if the father is going to be in the lives of the mother and children, we need to start working with the family as a unit.”

My Brother’s Keeper launched in late spring 2016. It provides a safe environment where men talk openly with each other about the issues they’re facing while working on parenting skills. The program uses the 13-week Nurturing Fathers curriculum and offers sober social activities, along with support from a male coach.

The ATTC Network’s Tools for Treatment: Family-Centered Behavioral Health Support for Pregnant & Postpartum Women website features My Brother’s Keeper as a Pregnant and Parenting Women Exemplary Performer for fathers, partners, and extended family.

For Fayetta, the positive response to the group came as some what of a surprise. “The men are participating fully and enjoy the group,” she says. “They say that this is just what they needed. For many, having a place to share things they may not want to discuss with their female partner is extremely powerful.”

Current group members range in age from 18 to 45. The program also offers treatment for participants who have had substance use issues.

The men have also been invited to participate in a variety of National Recovery Month activities, including the Houston Run for Recovery, held year during Recovery Month to raise funds for addiction treatment and recovery support services in the area. This year, Santa Maria hostel is one of the event’s beneficiaries. And, they’ll be boarding buses for the Big Texas Rally for Recovery, the annual recovery rally hosted by Faces and Voices of Recovery. This year’s Rally will take place in Dallas on October 2.

All of Santa Maria Hostel’s programs support its mission to treat the whole family, promote personal growth, and improve quality of life.

“We are trying to change the landscape of our community, one family at a time,” says Fayetta.

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