Gleaning from the Black Star Project’s Million Father March, New York State community based organizations, residents, and schools hosted their first event in 2003. The Office of Children & Family Services (OCFS) in 2007, utilized the idea to leverage the family engagement initiative which includes the effort to “Locate and Engage Fathers and their Extended Family” for children in child welfare. Members of the NYC Regional Office partnered with PS 316 in Brooklyn. The then State Senator Eric Adams supported and attended which was covered by Eyewitness News.

New York State’s Office of Temporary Disability Assistance (OTDA) joined OCFS in 2007 to promote the effort which included a school from Albany. During this period there was at least one school in each borough in New York City participating in the event.

In 2009, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), and the annual “Dads Take Your Child to School Day” became the exclusive event that welcomed all ethnicities. A new logo was instituted from a drawing on a napkin by Kenneth Braswell, from the NYS OTDA. A website was created which allowed state-wide registration and guidance for anyone interested. It was also decided that the first day of school is a hectic time for principles and school staff and it may be difficult to coordinate the event. The date was moved back a couple of weeks to allow better planning and cohesion with the number of participating partners. A number of city agencies also joined including the Administration for Children Services (ACS), Department for Youth and Community Development (DYCD), and the Office of Child Support Enforcement (NYC OCSE).

Today Dads Take Your Child to School Day is celebrated throughout New York State from Buffalo to NYC and continues to grow at an alarming rate.

     By: Will Henry, MSW
          Center for the Development of Human Services
          NYS Office of Children and Family Services