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Taking Care of My Family

Edwin DayeEdwin Daye, Iowa Fatherhood Initiative

Summary: The author, a leader of the Des Moines Fatherhood Initiative, shares his personal experience as the father of a baby involved in dependency court.

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One of the leaders of the Des Moines Fatherhood Initiative is Edwin Daye, birth and adoptive father. Daye, his partner and his infant son, received the collaborative support offered to families in Judge Connie Cohen’s Juvenile Courtroom through the Des Moines Safe Babies Court Team.

The following is excerpted from an interview Daye gave to ZERO TO THREE and Lovett Stories and Strategies in December 2010.

I pretty much grew up on the streets, so I was a part of the drugs and the gangs. I think back on what really pushed me, [it] was my mother passing away and, you know, I got a chance to be with my mom the day before she passed away and she said, you know, you got to take care of your sisters and brothers. And with me being the oldest boy, knowing what my mom did to take care of all the kids, you know, it was time for me to start being a grownup, stop going to jail, and stop running the streets. So with this little boy being in the picture now I had to stop and think about not just myself but what was best for him. When I saw him in the hospital, and I saw that he was smaller than all the rest of the babies, and I also found out that he had crack cocaine in his system…to see him sitting there shaking from the withdrawals really was one of the big things that drew me to him. The only way that he was going to get better was if someone loved him, and me being the father I had no choice but to, you know, to make sure that he was all right.

There’s a lot of reasons why I wasn’t considered to be able to take care of my son and the biggest thing was just coming out of prison, having a substance abuse issue, not having a very good job and not being in society very long, so that was one of the big issues that DHS had. The mother was still a part of my son’s life and due to the fact that the mother was still involved then, I mean, I was just a secondary placement. One of the biggest things to me is that when you have kids, mom is the primary regardless of anything and dad is just a secondary—and sometimes not even a secondary—because the mother’s family members usually come first. So after going through everything that I went through, I know the mother still had ample times to get her life back together to take [our son] home with her but she didn’t want to do the services…even though my UA’s were clean and hers wasn’t, and, you know, I didn’t quite understand why it was so hard for me, you know? If this is my son, to have my son knowing that I’m not using at the time and, you know, I have a place, a stable home and, I mean, from my understanding because I never had any dealings with DHS before so I didn’t know what to expect when it came time to speak about me getting custody of him.

What I went through I never want to go through again…Where I’m at now in my life and, and where [my partner] is in her life, we know that [raising my son] is something that we were supposed to do a long time ago. We got an opportunity to do it and that’s what we’re doing— no setbacks. We just move forward and that’s one thing about our family now. You know? We look forward. We don’t look behind us. We don’t really like to talk about what took place all the way up until now. But sometimes we do and, [and] it helps us to remember where we don’t want to be again.

I see myself grown up, no longer scared of anything or anyone. I know that I’m a better person today, and a lot of people see me differently. I’ve been recognized a lot more by people in my community, they call me and ask me, “Would you help out with the kids?” And that’s one thing that they never asked me before because I was a problem for the community. Now that I’m not, I’m older and a lot wiser about what’s going on with my neighborhood, I mean, they see me differently. I volunteer for the urban development football league. It’s third, fourth, fifth and sixth graders, girl and boy tackle football. I referee every year. This is going to be my third year. I work for Morgan Streeter [on the Fatherhood Initiative]. I facilitate the Wednesday night fatherhood initiative class and I’m also a Parent Partner now. So, I mean, those are some things that I never thought in a million years I’d be doing but I always wanted to and I got the opportunity to do that now. I’m not in trouble. I’m not in debt anymore. I have a home. I have two vehicles. I’m working. My family’s healthy and I have control of my life now.

Author biography:

Edwin Daye, biological, foster, adoptive father and kinship care provider. Mr. Daye is a leader in the Des Moines, IA, Fatherhood Initiative. The Fatherhood Initiative is designed to help strengthen parental skills and involvement of men who are living apart from their children. Daye teaches ongoing weekly classes based on the National Fatherhood Initiative's 24/7 Dad curriculum. The classes offer support in such areas as health and nutrition, effective communication, being a positive role model, co-parenting, financial education and accessing community resources. Daye is also a Parent Partner engaged by the Iowa Department of Human Services to provide support and encouragement to parents whose children have just been removed.

Resources:

Des Moines Fatherhood Initiative: Through the Fatherhood Initiative, the John R. Grubb YMCA has been able to impact the lives of hundreds of children by engaging their fathers and turning their focus on their children.

http://www.dmymca.org/en/y_programs/social_services/fatherhood/

Iowa Department of Human Services Parent Partners Program: Parents empowering parents to strengthen families, communities and systems thereby achieving safety, permanency and well-being for children.

http://www.dhs.state.ia.us/cppc/Parent_Partner_Program/index.html

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