In 1993, while working as a Baltimore City Health Department social worker, Joseph T. Jones, Jr. recognized that there were few resources available for fathers. This lack of resources inspired him to create the Men’s Services program under the auspices of the Baltimore City Health Department’s Healthy Start program. Joe saw that the participating fathers were committed, but lacked the skills to provide for their children. Men’s Services helped the fathers to reconnect with their families, find employment, resolve child support issues, overcome addiction, and learn parenting skills.
Beginning in 1998, Healthy Start introduced a three-week job training program, STRIVE Baltimore, which provided an innovative employment strategy for the hard-to-employ fathers enrolled in Men’s Services. Former City Health Commissioner, Dr. Peter Beilenson, and the Board of Directors of Baltimore City Healthy Start encouraged Jones’ interest in offering intensive services for fathers.
In 1999, with the blessing and encouragement of Commissioner Beilenson and the City, Joe founded CFUF.
The organization’s first initiatives, the Men’s Services Responsible Fatherhood program (now the Baltimore Responsible Fatherhood Project) and the STRIVE Baltimore Employment Training program, met with success. In 2005, CFUF established the Baltimore Building Strong Families program, a national initiative designed to assist couples with children between the ages of 0-3 months in developing the communication, conflict resolution, parenting, and life management skills necessary to develop and maintain healthy relationships. Additionally, in 2005, Couples Advancing Together (CAT), program designed by CFUF to incorporate the expressed desire of our clients to receive financial education and information while simultaneously developing their skills as couples to sustain healthy relationships and families was established.
In 2007, CFUF was provided the invaluable opportunity to expand its reach and expertise nationally, through funding made available by the Federal Office of Family Assistance. Through this grant, CFUF was contracted to provide training and technical assistance to over 96 Promoting Responsible Fatherhood, Healthy Marriage, and Economic Stability grantees across the country, advising them around recruitment, retention, engagement of fathers, program design and implementation of fatherhood programs.
In 2008, the Center for Urban Families was faced with unprecedented need. More than ever, the formerly incarcerated, and un-and under-employed were turning to CFUF for help, and more were being turned away from its aging headquarters on Druid Park Drive. CFUF had reached its capacity. Ten years after its founding, CFUF kicked off its second decade with a vision for a new home.
Today, 2201 North Monroe Street anchors the Mondawmin community. CFUF’s new headquarters is safe, accessible, and has allowed us to serve more people in need than ever before, providing more underserved Baltimoreans with a bridge to reaching true stability. This was made possible by the generosity of our donors and partners.
In furtherance of CFUF’s high impact work, CEO Joe Jones, a national leader in workforce development, fatherhood and family services programming, serves as an appointed member of the Obama Administration’s Taskforce on Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families.