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Blog Home > CEO Joe Jones Advocates the Importance of Keeping Dad in the Picture
CEO Joe Jones Advocates the Importance of Keeping Dad in the Picture
[Excerpt from Urbanite]

Joe Jones knows what it's like to have a father - and to lose him. Jones spent the first nine years of his life living with his mother and father, who tag-teamed on childrearing while training to become a nurse and a teacher, respectively. "We lived in the projects in East Baltimore, [but] I didn't even realize that we were kind of poor," Jones says. "I was in this cone, you know, being protected and raised and nurtured by them."

That changed when his parents divorced, and Jones and his mother moved to West Baltimore. He started running with a pack of older kids who were dealing and using drugs. "Not having my father in the household anymore, only having limited contact with him," he says, "my image of what life was transitioned from that cocoon environment with both my parents to this street culture environment." By 13, he was using and selling heroin. His addiction to heroin and cocaine would last for seventeen years, during which he would spin in and out of prison.

Since getting clean in 1986, Jones has rededicated his life to another calling: patching wayward fathers back into families they helped create.  He was the driving force behind the Baltimore City Health Department's Men's Services program as well as a local affiliate of the national STRIVE employment services program. In 1999, he founded the nonprofit Center for Fathers, Families, and Workforce Development, since renamed the Center for Urban Families.  The organization provides services ranging from childcare to job training, all aimed at helping fathers provide for, and remain a part of, their families their families. Jones was a member of President Bill Clinton's Work Group on Welfare Reform and currently serves on President Barack Obama's Taskforce on Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families, as well as serveral local and national boards of directors.

"When we think about the way in which we have designed interventions for families in our country. It really is code for women and children," Jones says. "One of biggest challenges I think we face as a community-as a nation-is the number of children who grow up in families where the fathers are not present. I think that is at the crux of all of the challenges we have with children not having the level of support [they need]."

Read the rest of the story here »
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