Incarcerated fathers take part in the Back to School with Dad initiative for the first time
SINGAPORE – Media OutReach – 28 December 2022 – Fathers from 200 pre-schools, primary and secondary schools as well as institutes of higher learning will be participating in the Back to School with Dad initiative for the next academic year in 2023. The dates for Back to School with Dad 2023 are 3 and 4 January 2023.
This represents an increase of nearly 67 percent increase from this year – boosted by the relaxed social distancing measures as Singapore entered the endemic phase. Fathers who have become more involved in their children’s schooling journey during the pandemic also continue to do so.
The Singapore Prison Service (SPS) is helping incarcerated fathers strengthen their bonds with their children. For the first time, over 200 incarcerated fathers took part in this initiative. These fathers wrote notes of encouragement on Back to School with Dad cards which were then passed to their families so that their children can be surprised and motivated when school re-opens.
“Children of incarcerated fathers are unable to be present for them physically at the beginning of the new school year. Encouraging their children through these handwritten notes serves to strengthen father-child bonds despite their absence. This benefits not only the children, but the incarcerated fathers too, as it helps keep them motivated and focused on their rehabilitation journey,” said Ms Charlene Chia, Senior Correctional Rehabilitation Specialist from SPS.
Back to School with Dad cards
In the years before COVID-19, only hard copy Back to School with Dad cards were disseminated to schools for fathers to pen notes for their children. Due to COVID-19 restrictions affecting logistics of cards distribution, Back to School with Dad 2022 went virtual.
For the 2023 academic year, due to the opening up post-pandemic, hard copy cards were provided to some schools. For fathers who do not have access to the hard copies, virtual cards are also available for download from the Back to School with Dad web page. This allows more fathers (and mothers) to access the card templates and share them with other parents in their community.
Using these templates, the parents can personalise a note of encouragement to be printed out and placed into lunchboxes or school bags so that their children can be pleasantly surprised during recess or sent to their children’s mobile phones for the older children. Parents will also be provided with a Back to School with Dad toolkit with ideas on how they can prepare their children for the new school year.
“Being there for my children during times of transition such as a new school year helps them understand that Dad will always have their backs. It is also my way of forming precious memories with them in their growing up years – memories which we will always have even as they move on to other stages of life beyond school and into adulthood,” said Mr Bryan Tan, CEO, Centre for Fathering, DADs for Life and MUMs for Life. “We hope that many more fathers and schools will appreciate the importance of a father’s involvement in his child’s schooling journey and pledge their support towards the Back to School with Dad initiative.”
Families for Life Council Chairman Mr Ishak Ismail said, “‘Back to School with Dad’ is a meaningful initiative for fathers (and mothers) to put their love and commitment in action. As fathers become more involved in the key milestones of their children’s lives, it will help them to navigate these transitions and approach the new school year positively. We hope more fathers will make time to accompany their children to school on their first day and create memories that will be cherished for many years to come.”