Fathers and Families Center, originally known as the Father Resource Program, traces its beginnings to Wishard Hospital’s social work department.

In May 1991, the hospital—through the leadership of Sarah Meadows, then director of the social work department—conducted a feasibility study resulting in a consensus that a resource program for fathers was needed. This was due to the high single-parent birth rate and the absence of young fathers in the lives of their children.

The team that developed the program included Wallace McLaughlin, Ph.D., who became the first program director and its founding president/CEO. The first class started in April of 1994, and the program’s mission was “to build a noble legacy of fatherhood.” It’s a statement that reflected the program’s determination to reconnect a generation of young men with the tradition of responsible fatherhood—and it still serves as our mission today.

In 1999, Fathers and Families Resource/Research Center, Inc., was established as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization after six years of operating as Wishard Health Services’ Father Resource Program. Since opening, the Center has delivered services to nearly 20,000 fathers residing in Indianapolis’s inner city and other community neighborhoods. Except for a few cases, program participants come to the Center voluntarily; many of these fathers learn about our services by word-of-mouth from past participants.

Fathers and Families Center became a United Way of Central Indiana member agency in 2003, a few months after relocating from Wishard Hospital to a more visible, accessible location on North Illinois Street. The Center has secured federal, state, and local funding to support initiatives promoting responsible fatherhood, and has increased support for families, healthy marriages, non-custodial father involvement, successful reintegration for ex-offenders, and crime prevention throughout Indianapolis.

We have received numerous awards at the national, state, and local levels, including the 2008 Champion of Compassion Award from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. In the past two Indianapolis Mayor’s Task Force reports on crime prevention, Fathers and Families Center has been recognized as a model program for working with at-risk African American men in our community.

We are proud of our history, and we have big plans for the future as we keep serving fathers and their families for many years to come.