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The Father Factor

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Father Involvement and the Gender Gap in Education

A new column by Christopher Brown in The Huffington Post reveals how a new gender gap has started in higher education. Brown points out that women are enrolling in and graduating from college at much higher rates than men. In this post, get details on the issue so you can help encourage dads around you.  

kids_in_classroomBrown writes in How dads' Involvement Can Address the Gender Gap in Higher Education, which I recommend you read in full, but some insights you should know are as follows:

  • In 1994, the proportion of female and male high school graduates who enrolled in college was virtually the same (63 percent and 61 percent, respectively). By 2012, a sizable gap had emerged with 71 percent of female high school graduates enrolled in college compared to 61 percent of males.
  • The gap doesn't discriminate based on race or ethnicity.
  • Women now represent nearly three-fifths of graduate students.
  • While we should celebrate that more women attend college and obtain degrees than ever before, we should be concerned that men are being left behind and that extremely little is being done about it.
  • This trend has dire economic and social consequences.
  • Men who don't graduate from college earn less money, for example, than men who do. It also makes them more vulnerable to unemployment, which has a host of consequences that include a higher risk for criminal behavior.

What can we do to address this gender gap?

  • Greater father involvement in the lives of high school students.
  • Father absence is at the heart of the educational challenges faced by boys and men.
  • Boys are more likely to drop out of high school, for example, when they grow up without their dads. (Accordingly, My Brother's Keeper acknowledges this fact.)

Brown mentions a recent study on the impact of father involvement on college graduation rates and says it reveals why "greater father involvement is vital to addressing the gender gap specifically and increasing college graduation rates generally because, quite frankly, we should also be concerned that only 1 of 3 young adults, regardless of gender, graduates from college."

Brad Wilcox of the University of Virginia studied children ages 7-12 by dividing teens into four groups based on their fathers' level of involvement:

  1. not involved
  2. less involved
  3. involved
  4. very involved

Wilcox findings were as follows:

  • regardless of socioeconomic status and compared to teens of not involved dads, teens with involved dads were 98 percent more likely to graduate from college while teens with very involved fathers were 105 percent more likely to graduate from college.

Brown summarizes:

more involved fathers contribute to more college success for our nation's young adults and is a much more cost-effective solution than hundreds of programs and initiatives that, while laudable and part of the solution, don't go far enough upstream and cost a ton of money.

Wilcox and Brown make it clear that while the dads in the home are more involved than ever; sadly, more children are growing up without dad in the home. Fixing this education gap means understanding and working to fix the father absence problem.

Read the full article at The Huffington Post

 

5 Questions Every Working Father Should Ask

Gone are the days where working fathers spent most of their time in the office. Today, there is increasing demand, both on the part of working fathers individually and on the part of society, to find more work-life balance.

The role of the working father is drastically changing, and it's important to assess your own thoughts and ideas for what you want as a working father.  

5 Questions Every Working Father Should Ask

In order to assess what you really want is a working father, here are five questions to ask yourself.  

1. What does work-life balance mean to me?

Work-life balance is different for everyone and the balance between work and your personal life will look different for you than it will for your friends and colleagues. It's important to assess what balance means to you, in terms of the hours that you work, where and how you work, the hours that you spend with your family and friends, and what the mix of the two is. Some people prefer to keep work and life completely separate, while others are okay with some overlap, and still others are okay with a lot of overlap. So, what does work-life balance look like to you?  

2. Do I know what my priorities are?

In order to find work-life balance and be the type of working father that you want to be, you need to sort out your priorities. At work, are you happy with your career level? Do you have ambitions to rise higher in the company? What specific steps will that entail and what sort of commitment are you making? How does your boss feel about the idea of work-life balance and is it something that you want to make a priority?  

At home, ask yourself questions about the time that you spend with your family and friends. Is it a priority for you to make all of your children's school events? Or to be home for dinner every night? Or is it more important to have your weekends free for family time? Essentially, you're doing an evaluation of your priorities to see if where you are spending your time is where you want to be spending your time.  

3. In my industry, what options are available to me?

Most people are surprised when they find out about the flexible work options available for them in their chosen profession. With advances in technology over the last decade, more people than ever are taking advantage of work flexibility options like working from home, working a flexible schedule, or even working part time. Do some research to determine what work-life balance options might exist in your industry.  

4. Does your current employer have any sort of flexible work options?

If you haven't checked in a while, now is a great time to look at your employee handbook or talk to HR about the possibilities open in your job. If you started a job before you had a family or other work-life balance needs, you may have overlooked these options, but they are often available. Check to see if telecommuting or flextime are supported, or if your company offers paid family leave for things like child and elder care. Basically, know your options.  

5. Can I make my job more flexible?

If you've done some research and found that there isn't a specific flexible work policy at your job, or you are unsure of the options available to you, you can always propose a flexible work arrangement to your boss. Think about the type of flexibility that would most help you reach your goals and priorities. Would you like to work from home some or all of the time? Or do you want the flexibility to come in earlier so that you can leave work earlier? Is it possible to work an alternative schedule that saves you from rush hour? There are many different types of flexibility to consider, so before you propose anything to your boss, make sure you know what you're asking for. The second key component to proposing a flexible work arrangement is to understand how this will impact your employer, and to emphasize all of the positive impacts--better productivity, fewer unexpected absences, and potentially even lower operating costs for them.  

If, after asking yourself these five questions, you realize that your current role or career is out of line with your priorities as a working father, you might have to make a difficult decision to find a new job or a new career. Career change for the sake of work-life balance is not uncommon these days, nor is requesting and being granted a more flexible work arrangement.

As a working father, you have a responsibility both to your employer and to your family to be honest about what it is that you want and how you're going to get it. Don't be afraid to ask these questions of yourself in the future, because re-evaluation as life changes is an excellent way to make sure that you are meeting your priorities as a working father.

Question: What's one thing that helps you better manage work and family life?

This post is from Sara Sutton Fell. Sara is the CEO and Founder of FlexJobs, an award-winning, innovative career website for telecommuting, flexible, freelance, and part-time job listings, and Founder of 1 Million for Work Flexibility, an initiative dedicated to promoting flexible work options for all. Interested in blogging for us? Read our guest blog guidelines.

Fatherhood Programs: Facilitating for Change

This is a guest blog post from Scott Lesnick, author, speaker, trainer, and 24/7 Dad® facilitator at The Parenting Network located in Milwaukee, WI.

Since 1977, The Parenting Network has served the greater Milwaukee community through its mission to strengthen parenting and to prevent child abuse with programs such as home visiting, parent education and support, fatherhood programs, and more.

 

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Raising my children was a 24/7 job. And as a volunteer facilitator of the 24/7 Dad® Program at The Parenting Network in Milwaukee, I’ve heard from thousands of fathers who agree.

Every group of fathers I work with teaches me something new, and after ten weeks, we all feel better and even wiser. Parents who came in with a chip on their shoulder often graduate with a smile, extend a warm thank you (which isn’t easy for some) and say that they’ve learned some valuable and positive lessons that they WILL use in parenting their children.

I am confident that participant fathers are not only better equipped with positive, hands on ways to parent when they leave, but they also have a greater understanding of how their childhood shaped their adult lives as it pertains to parenting. Yes, really connecting to our children and treating each as the individual they are is the key to their growing up with good self-esteem. It takes a daily interest, a commitment that some did not see when they were young. Talking, listening, setting proper boundaries and playing are wonderful.

Further, breaking the cycle of physical and verbal abuse is a challenge, but many parents are able to, for the first time, really understand how they would feel if it happened to them. Anger, remorse and contemplation often set in, but the group is always supportive.

It’s also a pleasure to watch the group’s reaction as I offer up how parents are always on their children’s radar. Children watch us like a camera making mental notes and comparisons hundreds of times a day. When you look at us adults from a kid’s perspective and realize were being “recorded” by them both consciously and subconsciousl,y it allows us to focus on what we say and how we react. This makes for better relationships with our children and strengthens our parenting skills.

Of course, I’m not under the assumption the fathers we work with are angels. Some have served serious time behind bars and others are completing the class in order to spend more time with their children. But nonetheless, they open up about things I never imagined I’d hear and it takes the breath out of many in the class. But, we talk. We discuss. Some even grow- maturing before my eyes. We stay on topic as it pertains to that week’s lesson and these parents are engaged! They’re thinking, talking, and debating all things parenting. That’s the golden ticket!

To make sure that the dads are getting tangible, applicable skills they can apply to their relationships (with mom and kids), I ask for 1-3 takeaways from each before he leaves the session. As a result, I can know if the handbook, our classroom discussions, my facilitating, and/or their peer interaction is moving them forward by how they answer. Some talk for five seconds and others 30 minutes! For example, I have heard: “Man. You opened my eyes. I’m not going to be like how “so-and-so was to me growing up.”  “I never knew why I acted like that - why I hit my kids instead of talking more. I get it now!”

I wanted to give back. I wanted to help fathers become better parents. The Parenting Network allows me to connect to parents who not only leave the course a better and more knowledgeable parent, but often remind me of some things I did well in raising my two children. I wish programs like this were made available to all those who want to improve their parenting skills. I know I could have definitely used it when my children were younger, and I suspect most of us could.

Surprisingly, some participants come back to the fatherhood program observe, add content and opinion, plus continue to grow. How can I say no? Their kids deserve nothing but the best.

Facilitating groups isn’t always easy. But being there to facilitate and watch groups connect, understand and add positive content is

If you have any questions for Scott about his experience as a 24/7 Dad® Facilitator, he can be reached at scott@scottlesnick.com.Scott is also a member of the National Speaker’s Association and his speaking engagements center around parenting topics, increasing performance, focusing on what’s important, and useful tools in overcoming life’s challenges.

Engaging Fathers in Home Visits

Father Friendly Check-Up LogoNFI has worked with numerous service providers and state agencies to enhance their home visitation models by integrating resources for fathers, resulting in increased father engagement in home visitation programs and ultimately, in the lives of their children and families. 

Currently, we are working with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to do extensive work engaging fathers in home visitation programs as part of their larger MIECHV grant.

What is unique about the work that NFI does in states/counties/cities is that we do not offer a “one size fits all approach.” While we have frameworks and models to guide your father engagement strategy, your community leaders/staff, etc. are involved and engaged in developing the approach that best meets your needs and area of focus.

In the state of Texas, with a focus on home visitation, NFI has or will:

  • Conduct six regional Father Friendly Check-Up™ Master Trainer trainings to all of the state’s lead agencies and their partners
  • Create a Father Readiness Tool Kit
  • Conduct a quantitative assessment of every lead agency’s father friendliness
  • Assist in creating father friendly action plans
  • Collect reports of immediate impact in the organizational culture and home visitation programs of these agencies and their partners

Recently, we heard from Darlene Thomas, HIPPY Program Coordinator at the Greater Opportunities of the Permian Basin (GOPB Inc.) (HIPPY is subcontracted by GOPB Inc., Head Start.) Darlene trains, supervises and monitors four home visitors.  Each Monday is reserved for training home visitors in the home visiting curriculum and ensuring that all props (materials used to role play curriculum) are ready. The rest of the week is spent inputting data into ETO (Efforts to Tracking Outcome, which is the HIPPY tracking system,) observing home visits, planning parent group meetings, ETO training, monitoring home visits, recruiting and much more. 

Darlene attended the recent Texas Father Engagement Training designed to increase father engagement in home visitation programs. At this training, Darlene was also trained to be a “Master Trainer” on NFI’s Father Friendly Check Up™ that allows organizations to assess their father friendliness with the goal of improving it. Darlene is now certified to train other home visitation specialists in nearby agencies to do a better job of engaging fathers in their home visitation work.

We asked Darlene: 

What were you hoping to learn at the Father Engagement Training by NFI?
Mainly I wanted to learn how to increase father participation in our HIPPY (Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Children). 

In what way did the Father Friendly Check Up allow you to look at your work differently? 
It helped me to see how “father unfriendly” our program was.  The training helped me to realize this, and that we have an important task of making it friendlier. One of the first things that the home visitors and I will do is change our thinking about the role of fathers in their children’s lives. The four assessment categories we learned: Leadership Development, Organizational Development, Program Development, and Community Engagement, were an excellent way for GOPB Inc., HIPPY to understand our weaknesses and strengths. However, there were very little strengths. 

What was the most valuable aspect of the training for you?
The most valuable aspect was when I realized that fathers are ignored - and they should not be. Fathers are a valuable asset to the family, and we should make every attempt to get them involved in their child/children’s lives. 

In what way were you surprised by information received during the training?
The large percentage of women who feel that dads are replaceable by them or another man.  It was also an eye opener to realize how father unfriendly my organization is. 

How will you be using/passing on the information you learned?
It is important that others be trained in father engagement. I will begin training the home visitors with whom I work. Then, I will be available to train other interested organizations throughout the community because like our organization, many do not engage fathers simply because of lack of knowledge. 

Which specific tools from NFI do you think will be helpful in your efforts to engage fathers in home visitation?
I am looking forward to using the strategic planning guide and category assessment provided by NFI to implement ways to increase father engagement in my organization.   

What are you doing now to better to engage fathers as a result of the training?
We are strategically planning our parent meetings in the evening. We recently conducted our End of Year Celebration in the evening and over 50 fathers participated! This was fantastic because only 0 - 3 fathers attended when the meetings were held in the afternoon. 

Thank you Darlene! We appreciate you sharing your experience and are hopeful that your agency and others in Texas will continue to encourage and train others on the importance of father involvement in the area of home visitation. 

If you have any questions about Darlene’s experience with NFI’s Father Engagement Project, or would like to know more about the HIPPY work, email her at darlene.thomas@gopb.org.

Get started with father engagement in your state, visit our website to learn about NFI's State, City, and County Initiatives here.

6 Ways to Involve Moms in Involving Dads

As responsible fatherhood programs continue to increase dads’ motivation to be more involved, responsible, and committed in their child’s life, one challenge has become even more apparent – how do we help custodial moms support the dad’s involvement?

Certainly, there is no easy answer to this challenge especially in situations where the relationship between the mom and dad has negative emotional energy surrounding it.

However, it all starts with helping both parents understand that healthy co-parenting is going to increase the well-being of their children and helping moms understand their tremendous influence over the dad’s motivation to be involved.  Studies have demonstrated that when mothers perceived their partners as motivated and competent to engage in child care responsibilities, fathers were more involved in childcare.

Here are 6 specific strategies that you can consider to address this critical father involvement issue:

  1. Encourage the healthy development of the father-mother relationship among clients, whether or not the father and mother are together.
  2. Work with mothers to involve fathers in the lives of children. Some of NFI's Low Intensity resources such as the Pocketbook for Moms™: A Pocketbook Full of Ways to Communicate with Dad can help moms understand how to better communicate with dad so that he can be more involved in his children's lives.
  3. Assess situations when the mother does not want the father involved and help both the mother and the father resolve differences with the best interest of the child in mind. (This is kind of the "It's not about YOU" mentality...it's about what is best for your children to grow up happy and healthy.)
  4. Encourage mothers to cooperate with fathers in raising children and vice versa, unless abuse of a child or spouse by the other parent has been substantiated.
  5. Develop marketing plans that include targeting mothers in order to encourage fathers to get involved. For example, if you have specific programs for moms, consider offering a fatherhood workshop such as The 7 Habits of a 24/7 Dad and ask the moms you serve to invite the fathers of their children to attend the workshop.
  6. Understanding DadOffer specific group-based programs that raise mothers’ awareness of potential gatekeeping, how their relationship with their own father affects the relationship with the father of their children, and how to communicate effectively with their child’s dad such as Understanding Dad™.  

In fact, moms involving dads is SO important, that NFI now offers a suite of resources and curricula designed to accomplish all of these objectives which you can review here.

Remember: Fatherhood is part of a larger system that involves the mom, other family members and the community.  Even if a dad has the ability and desire to be a good dad, he will be limited by the degree to which all of these other relationships support him in accomplishing that goal - chief of which, is the mom.

The Heart of NFI’s Work

As NFI adds more and more followers, blog readers, and “fans” via our social media tools, it often occurs to me that many of you may only have a very vague idea of what constitutes the core of NFI’s work as a nonprofit organization. Many of you may simply think of us as "those folks who write stuff online about fatherhood."

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So, this morning, I headed over to the local hotel’s meeting room to gather some physical evidence of the “real” grassroots work we do to strengthen fatherhood across the country.

This morning, NFI’s Senior Director of Program Support Services, Mike Yudt, is delivering a full-day training session on our InsideOut Dad® program for incarcerated fathers. The folks we are training are a dedicated group of professionals who work in communities around the country (we even have a guest from Hawaii!) and are striving to ensure that their agencies offer programs for fathers.

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So, they come to us to learn how to deliver our fatherhood curricula to the dads in their communities. Today is day three of a three-day program in which we trained groups of practitioners on our 24/7 Dad® program, our Doctor Dad® workshop, and today, InsideOut Dad®. Our trainees are folks who see that their communities’ notions of serving “families” often means serving mothers and children. They want to close that gap by ensuring that dads are getting the help they need, too.

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How often do we do this sort of thing? Well, in many ways it is our “bread and butter.” Since 2002, we have trained nearly 13,000 individuals from nearly 6,000 organizations on how to deliver fatherhood programs into their communities. We have also distributed over 6.3 million fatherhood resources (brochures, books, CD-ROMs, etc) to help dads build their fathering skills.

This is the work that keeps us ticking. This is the heart of what NFI does.

Connect with The Father Factor by RSSFacebook and on Twitter @TheFatherFactor.

24/7 Dad® & "Wrap Around" Services - So Happy Together

Recently, Catholic Charities’ Asylum Hill Family Center was featured in the Catholic Transcript Online - the Newspaper of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut. And guess what? They've used NFI's 24/7 Dad® group-based program to reach over 600 dads that have come through their doors over the last 2 years.

But they don't just offer the 24/7 Dad® fathering program - they offer other "wrap around" services to residents such as parenting skills, advocacy/empowerment, job training and support, homeownership training, money management/budgeting classes, and more. 

You see, 24/7 Dad® and wrap around services are so happy together (are you humming The Turtles song yet?)

According to NFI's Director of Program Support Services, Michael Yudt, "The 24/7 Dad® program is an ideal compliment to wrap around services such as job training, support, and financial literacy because the program speaks to WHY men do what they do. Fatherhood can provide men with a greater context and purpose for life, and when you tap into that, you can make significant in-roads in the other service areas as well."

Michael continues, "Motivating men to care more about their children is a great way to capture the heart of a man, and 24/7 Dad® does just that."

Kyle Parrish stands next to NFI's fatherhood poster.

Speaking of motivation, the Catholic Transcript article features Kyle Parrish (pictured right) not yet 21 years old, in a relationship, and father to a son who's just barely a year old. Due to an injury on the job, bills and stress mounted as he waited on a Workmen’s Compensation settlement. One day, he walked into a store in the same building as the Asylum Hill Family Center, and began talking with one of the center's Pathways to Responsible Fatherhood program representatives. A year later, Parrish had participated in the center's 24/7 Dad® program, and other services, and says he feels like a new man.

Quoting the article:

"We went from talking about my situation to him saying he might be willing to help me but at the same time, I had to be willing to help myself," Mr. Parrish said. "I had to partake in it; otherwise [my situation] wasn’t going to change."

Lois Nesci, CEO of Catholic Charities, said the program began about two years ago because fathers were an underserved segment of the population. "As they’ve [fathers] developed the skills for employment, their self-confidence increases," she said.

"Although they were somewhat involved in the lives of their children, they recognized, and we recognized, that they needed to learn better parenting skills," Ms. Nesci said. "They needed to learn ways to be more engaged with their children and their families and to develop the resources in order to become more self-sufficient. In addition to parenting skills, we also provide them with classes in financial literacy and also help them build their employment skills."

And that's great news because according to Mr. Parrish, the 24/7 Dad® fatherhood program has helped him:

  • In his relationship with his son’s mother - to show her that he's doing something constructive to be a better father. 
  • Learn how to better interact with women, and their expectations. 
  • Understand the demands and responsibility of being a father -- that it's more than just providing financially and picking up the child from school, etc. 
  • Learn to take care of himself and be healthy so that he can physically be there for his child.
Fathers can learn all this and and more through the 24/7 Dad® program. In fact, NFI Staff has worked with thousands of community based organizations who provide services to their neighbors in the community, and include 24/7 Dad®. Some common organizational implementations are:
  • Pregnancy Care Centers
  • Recovery Centers
  • Transitional Housing/Reentry Efforts
  • Rescue Missions
  • Workforce Development Organizations
  • Head Start / Early Childhood Development Programs
  • Community Action Agencies
  • Social Service Agencies / DHHS Program
Sound Off: How is your organization incorporating 24/7 Dad® into its wrap-around services? Why does it work for you?
Image credit: The Catholic Transcript Online

When Dad's in Jail—He's Still Dad

At NFI, we implement two main strategies for engaging society about fatherhood.

1) Top-down: through communications campaigns and social media and 2) Bottom-up: our "boots on the ground" -- our work with community-based organizations and other civic partners to train and equip leaders to better serve the fathers in their communities.

One such example is our work in jails and prisons. The Richmond Times-Dispatch recently featured a program that's impacting the capital city of Virginia. The city jail uses our InsideOut Dad® program that helps prisoners to be better dads.

“I never had my dad or nobody tell me they were proud of me until this program..." —William Jones, recent graduate of NFI's InsideOut Dad® skill-building program for incarcerated fathers. 

First Things First of Greater Richmond, a nonprofit organization focused on strengthening families, presented the course. “Nobody else can take this from you,” said Dennis Fries, who facilitated the program for First Things First of Greater Richmond. Fries is with AmeriCorps, a federal agency that enlists volunteers and paid employees to work in local communities.

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“The goal is to get everybody to communicate with their kids, to relearn some parenting skills you never knew you had,” Fries continued. At the completion ceremony, the men shared how the program affected them. Below are excerpts from the news article:

  • Ronnell Glasgow, 26, said he grew up without his father in his life and was repeating that pattern with his own children, daughters ages 7 and 9.
  • Glasgow is behind bars at the Richmond City Jail, but even when he was out he said he thought giving them material things was enough.
  • Just weeks into a fatherhood skills training program at the jail, Glasgow said he had reached out to his own emotionally distant father and was communicating more with his daughters, who he said are no longer shy around him.
  • “I understand the importance of not having a father,” Glasgow said, adding that with his own father he was “building a relationship as a father and a man.”
  • One man described having a 15-minute telephone conversation with his daughter, who he rarely spoke to before. 
  • Another described overcoming fear of rejection and reaching out to an adult daughter and his surprise at her welcoming response. 
  • Another talked about writing to his 6-year-old son and getting a reply.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that one recent graduate said after the program, “Being there for my kids is better than any gift,” said William Jones, 22, father of four children. Jones is in jail on a probation violation and plans to enter an addiction-treatment program when he is released.

A new 12-week session of InsideOut Dad® at the Richmond City jail starts soon.

The InsideOut Dad® group-based program can be easily shortened for use in jails and other short term stay facilities. Download our new FREE InsideOut Dad Guide for Jails which provides a road map for modifying the program to either 12 or 8 hours.

Image: [Daniel Sangjib Min/TIMES-DISPATCH] Dennis Fries (left) an instructor for the InsideOut Dad® program, gets a hug from William Jones, a participant in the class who wants better relationships with his four children.

How to Help Fathers Navigate the Child Support System

One of the primary challenges faced by non-custodial fathers is how to effectively navigate the child support system. Research shows that when these fathers consistently pay their child support that their involvement in the lives of their children increases.

So how can you help them?

Helping fathers to effectively navigate the child support system is, consequently, a challenge for organizations that serve these fathers. A recent report from Public/Private Ventures (P/PV), Navigating the Child Support System: Lessons from the Fathers at Work Initiative summarizes this challenge within the context of workforce development and provides guidance that can help.

The report “aims to help meet this challenge by providing information, resources and tools to use at the intersection of workforce development and child support enforcement. The guide is based on lessons from the Fathers at Work initiative, a three-year, six-site demonstration funded by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, which was designed to help young, noncustodial fathers achieve increased employment and earnings, involvement in their children's lives, and more consistent financial support of their children.” Moreover, it “describes child support enforcement regulations, policies and actions that can affect fathers' willingness to seek formal employment and participate in the system, and provides examples of four services that organizations might offer to benefit fathers and their families.”

While this report can prove to be helpful for organizations working with fathers, National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) offers a new tool that organizations can use now to help meet this challenge.

FatherTopics Collection for Non-Custodial DadsAvailable through FatherSOURCE™.org, the new FatherTopics™ Collection for Non-Custodial Dads contains five workshop sessions that organizations can use as stand-alone workshops or to complement their fatherhood programs (e.g. 24/7 Dad®) to address selected topics that are very important and helpful for non-custodial fathers.

Most importantly, The Collection includes a session that helps fathers to better understand the importance of providing child support. They learn what this type of support means for their children and for their self-identification as a father. And beyond that, it emphasizes the value of all types of support given by a father (e.g. financial, emotional, and physical). As part of the Child Support Session content, fathers meet a local child support expert/representative and learn about child support enforcement and how to navigate the child support system.

Other sessions in the collection focus on several additional critical challenges faced by these fathers:

  • Access and visitation
  • Workforce readiness
  • Money management
  • Fathers’ rights and responsibilities.

In fact, the collection of workshops for fathers was field tested for one year by practitioners in New York City as part of the city’s fatherhood initiative; the feedback from these practitioners and the fathers who participated in the sessions was overwhelmingly positive.

FatherTopics Collection for Non-Custodial Dads offers a total of five 2-hour sessions your organization can run for non-custodial fathers to help them succeed as involved fathers. Click the button below to learn more about how to implement these sessions with non-custodial fathers you serve.

NEW! Resources from NFI to Help Moms Involve Dads

It's an exciting day at National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) as we just launched a new line of products and services designed to help mothers support the involvement of fathers in their children’s lives!Resources for moms, communication, co-parenting, new moms

This new line of products and services for mothers complements NFI’s longstanding, industry-leading work to equip community-based organizations around the country with the tools and training needed to effectively serve fathers for the well-being of their children.

Today, over 24 million children in America live in in homes where their biological father is absent. All too often, a mothers' gatekeeping behavior can prevent or reduce fathers' access to their children - when fathers' involvement in their children's lives would actually benefit their children. In addition, mothers can lack the self-awareness and communications skills they need to improve their relationships with the fathers of their children.

It's important to note that we devised our new programming for moms based on feedback from hundreds of organizations around the country using our signature fatherhood programs and other NFI low and medium intensity resources. These organizations identified a great need to involve mothers in their efforts to connect fathers to their children, but saw no programming available to help them do so. And, they were seeking resources to encourage communication and co-parenting. Accordingly, NFI’s new programs – the first of their kind – will help moms become gateways, rather than gatekeepers, between their children and their children’s dads.

Understanding Dad™: An Awareness and Communication Program for Moms anchors the new line of resources. This complete program kit helps mothers successfully navigate their relationships with the fathers of their children in a group-based program over 8 sessions. It will give moms the knowledge and skills they need to effectively communicate with the fathers of their children and to understand the critical role fathers play in children’s lives.

“Research shows that two of the most powerful predictors of father involvement for a child are the quality of the mother-father relationship and the way the child’s mother perceives the child’s dad,” said Christopher A. Brown, executive vice president of NFI. “NFI’s new programming aims to help moms develop the knowledge and skills they need for effective communication and come away with a positive impression of the role of fathers in children’s lives.”

Understanding Dad™ increases mothers’ self-awareness about the impact of their personal histories on their relationships with men and fathers, how their histories have shaped their communication with the fathers of their children, and provides them with research-based skills to overcome negative communication styles and replace them with positive ones.

Other products in the new line include Pocketbook for Moms™: A Pocketbook Full of Ways to Communicate with Dad and Pocketbook for New Moms™: A Pocketbook Full of Reasons for New Moms to Involve Dads. Pocketbook for Moms™ contains practical tips and strategies to help mothers build trust and positive communication patterns with dads. Pocketbook for New Moms™ helps moms understand the benefits of father involvement during pregnancy and during their children’s infant and toddler years and beyond.

Lastly, our popular FatherTopics Workshop: Mom as Gateway is already being used by oragnizations across the country to address mom's gatekeeping behavior, and is an excellent complement as an add-on to our new Understanding Dad Program.

All of the new resources are now available through FatherSOURCE™ along with customized NFI trainings and technical assistance that organizations can choose to help them effectively implement the new programs. And don't forget, NFI’s team of program support consultants, are here to help you start or enhance your fatherhood programsor create a custom program to meet your needs! 

3 Popular Questions When Working With Fathers

At NFI we recieve many questions asking how organizations can better reach and help the fathers going through our fatherhood programs they run. The following are three popular - but tough - questions that are important to wrestle with as individuals and organizations seek to provide greater support to fathers and their respective families.

person stands thinking beside questionmarkHow do we reach dads that are not interested in being involved in their children's lives?

This is a question that we receive often.  It’s important to acknowledge on the front end that despite our best efforts, some dads will be very challenging to reach.  While many dads have a strong interest in their children, some fathers are apathetic towards their role.  The key in reaching these fathers is to not write them off, but to always make them feel welcome and to try to understand why they feel that way.  Also, discern whether someone else is in a better position to speak to them about the importance of their role.  Do not feel like you have to carry the burden alone.  And remember, it’s important not to divert too much time and energy away from the dads that are ready and willing to increase and improve their involvement with their children.  In an effort to connect with the hard to reach dads, we don’t want to lose sight of the ones that are showing an interest in their children. 

For more suggestions on Recruiting and Retaining Fathers, contact NFI’s Program Support Team.

describe the imageHow can I help a father who is having significant issues with the mother of his children?

This too is a great question.  There are several principles to keep in mind here.  First, it’s important to start small.  The common principle in paying off credit card debt is to pay off the smallest debt first and then work towards the larger debts.  The same principle applies to relationships.  Remember to first focus on the issues that you have the best chance of resolving.  Once you see success in those areas, mutual respect and confidence in the relationship will grow.  Then it becomes more likely that you’ll see success with the more significant and complex issues.  But, remember to coach the dads to focus on what they have contributed to the conflict, rather than on what “she” needs to do differently.  By taking greater ownership of the situation, dads will be putting themselves in the best possible position to reconcile with the mother of their children.

For more information on working with dads and moms on resolving conflicts, please download our Talking with Mom and Mom as Gateway workshops. 

man standing by question markWhat advice can I give a non-residential father who is trying to communicate with his children, but is not hearing anything back?

This is indeed a tough scenario.  First, it’s important for dads to separate their efforts from the results.  Certainly, the goal of communication is for it to be a two way street. But in some cases, letters and phone calls (and other means of communication) will go unanswered. The reasons why are as complex as the relationships themselves.  But here’s what dads need to remember: the more sincere and consistent communication you have with your children, the more likely you will eventually see results. This may take days, months, and even years.  It will be critical for dads to have a resolve to stay consistent in their communication efforts, even if they never hear back.  That will give dads the peace knowing that they did what they could to move beyond the past and heal their relationship.  NFI has heard many stories of reconciliation taking place after countless years of separation and silence.  You too can see that result!  Remember, two keys to reconciliation are owning what you did wrong and forgiving the other person for their mistakes. 

Want to help fathers connect with their children? Download NFI's "The Ultimate Guide to Connecting with Your Child"

Will you join the 12 Dollars, 12 Months, 12 Dads challenge?

We have exciting plans for 2013 to reach more dads, help more families, and advocate on behalf of responsible fatherhood - with the ultimate goal of improving child well-being and creating a world in which every child has a 24/7 Dad ℠.  But we need your help.

As we start 2013, will you join our 12 Dollars, 12 Months, 12 Dads challenge?  

It costs $12 to provide a dad with one of NFI's evidence-based fatherhood handbooks to help him build his fathering skills.  We are looking for 100 people to commit to donate $12 a month to help one dad every month.  If we reach that goal, together we will equip 1,200 extra dads in 2013 with resources to help them connect with their children heart-to-heart!

Will you be one of our team of 100 giving $12 a month to help a dad?

InsideOut DadFor example, 24/7 Dad$12 gives an incarcerated father an InsideOut Dad™ handbook to help him connect with his child even while behind bars and build a successful reentry plan for when he returns to his family.

Or, $12 gives a dad in a community like yours a 24/7 Dad™ handbook to help him build fathering skills like communicating with his child, working with mom, and understanding the impact of his relationship with his own father.

Each time a dad completes one of NFI's evidence-based, tested and proven programs, a child is more likely to benefit from a dad who is involved, responsible, and committed.  You can help make that happen.

Joining the 12 Dollar challenge is an easy but significant way to make a difference in the lives of kids.  Plus, all donations are tax deductible!

Will you take the challenge?

 

Donations represent a gift to the entire mission of NFI. To help the most number of children and families, we use your gifts where they can do the most good by pooling them with the gifts of others. And, because you are helping to change children’s lives, your gift is tax deductible!

Finding Your Way - Guides for Fathers in Child Protection Cases

You work with a variety of Dads. And they've got questions or issues that they need help addressing. And sometimes they're issues you or your staff aren't sure how to answer. Or, frankly, it's just not your area of expertise. 

FYG

That's why National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) is not only committed to providing you with our own research-based, high-quality resources -- we’re also committed to providing you with supplementary resources that we’ve partnered with other organizations to create, including resources that you can integrate with NFI’s programs (such as NFI’s 24/7 Dad®, Doctor Dad®, or InsideOut Dad®.) 

From 2006-2011, NFI partnered with the American Humane Society and the Center for Children and the Law at the American Bar Association to establish the National Quality Improvement Center on Non-Resident Fathers and the Child Welfare System (QIC-NRF). Wow! That was a mouthful…but it was a tremendously valuable project that NFI was proud to be a part of.

This 5-year project (funded by the Children’s Bureau in the Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) sought to identify models that child welfare organizations and professionals could use to improve their engagement of non-resident fathers whose children were or had been involved in child welfare systems. And this is where you benefit.

The QIC-NRF produced several excellent resources. One of these, titled “Finding Your Way: Guides for Fathers in Child Protection Cases,” is a collection of 6 FREE guides (each in English and Spanish) for non-resident fathers involved in child protection cases (child welfare cases) that you can download for FREE from NFI’s website. These colorful, easy-to-understand guides are extremely useful for any organization that works with non-resident fathers and especially those who run NFI’s or other fatherhood programs.

The 6 Finding Your Way Guides are:

  • Guide 1: Your Rights and Responsibilities -  Includes fathers’ rights in child welfare court cases, how to exercise and protect those rights, and fathers’ responsibilities inside and outside the courtroom.
  • Guide 2: How to Work with Your Lawyer -Includes how fathers should talk to their lawyers and interact with them, what to bring when meeting with a lawyer, and what to expect from a lawyer.
  • Guide 3: Your Role in Court -  Includes how fathers should act in court, what to do before, during, and after court, and how to prepare arguments. This guide includes three sub-guides—3.1, 3.2, and 3.3—that cover the court process, who will be in court, and common court terms.
  • Guide 4: Your Role Outside Court - Includes case meetings fathers should attend, why they should attend those meetings, and how to prepare for those meetings.
  • Guide 5: When You Owe Child Support - Includes why paying child support is important, how a child welfare case relates to child support, and when fathers must pay child support.
  • Guide 6: If You Are or Have Been in Prison - Includes fathers’ rights as a prisoner and ex-prisoner, and how fathers can protect their rights while in prison and outside prison.

How should you use them? Well, we're glad you asked.

  • We highly recommend that you distribute these guides to the fathers you serve (e.g. via case management or via display in a waiting area).
  • If you run a fatherhood program (such as NFI’s 24/7 Dad®, Doctor Dad®, or InsideOut Dad® programs), keep copies on hand to provide to fathers when they ask questions—which they undoubtedly will—about the subject matter covered in the guides.
  • You can also provide copies to staff to increase their knowledge about how to help fathers who need guidance on how to navigate child welfare systems. And if your organization is connected with other organizations that serve non-resident fathers, please tell them about this great free resource from NFI.   

We hope these guides are helpful to both you and the fathers you serve!

Factor Fathers in 2013 - The Year You Involve Dads

Fatherhood Program

Many organizations who serve families and communities do excellent work toward providing resources to create happy, healthy, and propserous families. But unfortunately, many fail to intentionally include fathers in the work they are doing.

In 2013, do it for the children. Involve Dads in your work!

If you are an organization who is already focusing on fathers - great! We have 5 things to ensure your fatherhood program thrives. 

If you're not focusing on fathers, here are 5 ways you can jump-start your efforts, plus some recommended resources:

1. Assess Your Father-Friendliness.  When fathers come to your organization, do they only see images of mothers?  Are there any male staff members in your organization?  Your father involvement efforts won't be successful unless fathers feel comfortable. A simple way to help fathers feel more welcome is to use posters or a Fatherhood Kiosk in your lobby or waiting area.  

Not sure how father-friendly your organization is?  Take our FREE Father-Friendly Check-Up™ for a customized evaluation and helpful recommendations. Get started by clicking the button at the end of this blog post.
 

2. Focus Your Efforts. This is one of the most important steps in preparing to serve fathers, and therefore, the longest in this post.

What kind of fathers do I want to engage?  
Think about the fathers that may come to your organization, the types of families you serve, or the kind of fathers you're looking to serve.  What are these fathers' interest points, and what barriers may they have for father involvement? The answers to these questions will inform what kind of resources you use, and how you structure and market your programs.  
• If you want to educate new dads, look for programs with practical child health and safety information, like Doctor Dad®
• For engaging inmates, look at a reentry program, like InsideOut Dad®, designed to address inmates' unique barriers
• Conducting home visits?  Try a portable resource - like Dad's/New Dad's Pocket Guides, Tip Cards, or the 24/7 Dad® Interactive CD-ROM

How much time and budget does my staff/organization have to dedicate to fatherhood programming?
Considering this aspect will help you hone-in on the types of resources that will best fit your organization. NFI categorizes fatherhood programming into Low, Medium or High Intensity levels, based on the amount of staff time and budget you have to invest in serving fathers. Choose the level that best fits your commitment in 2013.

3. Partner with Other Organizations.  Be creative and look for a variety of non-profit and for-profit partners that will help you increase your reach and provide valuable resources that you may not have on your own.  You can use partners to create a referral network - have other organizations who aren't prepared to work with fathers refer them to you.  Or, for-profit partners may be able to fund your efforts or help with promotion.

4. Think About Sustainability.  Funding is a key part of any father involvement program.  Many organizations sustain their efforts through local, state, and federal grants.  Click here for a recording of our Financial Sustainability Webinar and get ideas for program sustainability.  

5. Start with a Kick-Off Event.  Ready to get started?  Hold a community-wide event to create exposure and excitement!  Whether it is a family fun day, father-child activities, or a basketball tournament, an event will help you expand your reach and create excitement for your upcoming programs and efforts. Consider handing out fatherhood skill building materials like brochures or 24/7 Dad® magnets. Use one of our Fatherhood Kiosks to make free fatherhood resources available to dads you serve!

6 Protective Factors All Dads can Apply

The Department of Defense recently produced new instructions about the New Parent Support Program addressing six Protective Factors.

Military Community & Family Policy eMagazine introduced these six factors by emphasizing that "Becoming a parent is a major life change. No matter how many books you've read, videos you've seen, or classes you've taken in preparation for your baby, you may still have an unanswered question or two. Parenting challenges may be intensified within the military community with periods of separation, deployment, reunion, and relocation."

describe the image

For each of the six factors below, we have highlighted NFI resources that will not only assist military dads, but dads everywhere:

1) Nurturing and attachmentNurturing and bonding with your child from an early age can foster a positive relationship, and it may also set your child up for healthy relationships outside of the home.

2) Knowledge of parenting and child and youth developmentWhen you have a clear understanding of your child's developmental stages, you can use realistic communication, education, and positive discipline techniques.

3) Parental resilienceStress may be inevitable, but you can control how you react to stressful circumstances. Building resilience means building trusting relationships and finding healthy ways to reduce stress.

4) Social connectionsFriends, family, neighbors, and other connections in the community can give you healthy outlets for communication, and they may offer emotional support and help in stressful situations.

5) Concrete support for parentsWhen you have a problem that requires outside support, it is important to know where to find help. In the military community, you can reach out to your installation's NPSP for support and guidance.

To find contact information for your local resources, visit MilitaryINSTALLATIONS and select "New Parent Support Program" from the dropdown "program or service" box. 

  • Look for New Parent Support Programs and other departments in the military community which offer 24/7 Dad® and/or DoctorDad® programs.

6) Social and emotional competence of childrenUnderstanding your child's development can help you identify social and behavioral issues that, when identified early, can spare your family additional stress.

Together, these protective factors and NFI resources can help ease the challenge of preparing for your baby.

The Father Factor Blog: News, tips, and tools for dads and those helping dads.

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