SOUTH BRONX — A Bronx organization is working to help formerly incarcerated dads reconnect with their daughters this Father's Day.
The Osborne Association, an advocacy group for people who have been involved with the criminal justice system, will host a father-daughter dance for dads who used to be incarcerated on Friday afternoon.
The dance is part of the organization's Fatherhood Initiative, a program to support formerly incarcerated fathers that incudes family counseling, workshops to improve parenting skills and raffles with prizes for children. This is the first year the Osborne Association is putting on the event.
"So many dads come home that have been involved with the system, and they really have not had a chance to do a formal dance with their daughter," said Ronald Day, director of workforce development at the Osborne Association. "We really wanted it to be an opportunity for dads to be able to get that first dance with their daughter."
Long Island resident Raymond Cowan, who said he was incarcerated from 2003 to 2008 and from 2009 to 2013 on drug charges, plans on attending the dance tonight with his two daughters, ages 10 and 5.
"This was ideal for me because one of my daughters had a daddy-daughter dance that I missed when I was incarcerated, and I really felt bad about that," he said.
Cowan was very grateful for the help he has received transitioning back to society from the Osborne Association. He said it had been hard to reconnect with his daughters since his release.
"They don’t know me," he said. "I had to introduce myself all over, and I had to take time for them to get comfortable with me, comfortable with hugging me, giving me kisses."
Challenges for formerly incarcerated fathers can include a lack of contact with their children, a lack of resources to provide for them and a poor relationship with the mother, according to Day. However, he stressed that incarceration did not automatically turn someone into an unfit parent.
"They made some bad choices," he said, "but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t want to be a provider for their child."