“Hello my name is Eric Welch, I am a Parent Mentor with Morrison Child and Family Services and a member of the reentry community. My role with the Parent Mentor Program is working with fathers who have open DHS Child Welfare cases. Many of the fathers I work with are currently incarcerated or imprisoned. I started developing a passion for working with fathers when my own child was taken into custody by Child Welfare. I remember feeling a real sense of powerlessness; my beliefs about what fathers with criminal records could do to maintain long term recovery and gain custody of their kids were very negative. I have had over ten arrest cycles. It was during one of my extended stays at the Columbia County Jail that I met a man who showed me the heart of reentry. He inspired me with his words of recovery and was probably the first person to ever believe that I could change. Once I left that county jail, he told me that if I surrendered my life to a program of recovery, my higher power would use me in a powerful way once I was released. He also told me stories of all the men that he has worked with in the past that have been incarcerated and have reentered society to become successful, productive members of society and I’ve always wanted that for myself. There was something really special about that moment for me.
Since I was released the last time in 2008, I have developed a passion for working with families and people in recovery. I am especially interested addiction recovery, advocating for fathers rights, and helping develop services that are father friendly. Specifically, the types of issues that I am passionate about are the development of drug and alcohol treatment programs for fathers with their children and creating housing opportunities for fathers with their children. I am an active member of the Parent’s Advisory Council (PAC) which is a state-level advisory that meets quarterly to speak with leadership at Child Welfare about the parent’s perspective and what is currently going on in counties around Oregon. I absolutely love my job as a Parent Mentor and I am very happy to be working with the Washington County Reentry Council to help strengthen and unify families in the future.”