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The Father Factor


Father Facts 7: The Impact of Incarceration on Father Absence

Incarceration makes a significant contribution to father absence. Indeed, it is a cause of father absence. Nearly 2 million children have a parent in jail or prison. More than 9 in 10 parents in prison are fathers (93%).

Father Facts 7As described in one of the new sections in National Fatherhood Initiative’s Father Facts 7, 1 in 28 children in the United States have an incarcerated parent.

The number of incarcerated fathers has dramatically increased over the past 30 years, leaving children to be raised without their biological father, which creates additional challenges for parents and children.

The number of children with an incarcerated father has risen 79% since 1991. Children with incarcerated fathers are at higher risks of antisocial behavior.

When compared to children of absentee, but not incarcerated fathers, children with incarcerated fathers showed more aggressive and inattentive behaviors.

To learn more about the impact of incarceration on father absence, and to access the research and data, purchase and download Father Facts 7 today.

Father Facts 7

How to Shift the Mindset of Incarcerated Fathers

I knew there was something special about the Noble Correctional Institution (Caldwell, Ohio) the moment that I walked through the door. I was greeted immediately by Burl Lemon, President of Forever Dads, who oversees the InsideOut Dad® program at the facility. Mr. Lemon shared how men are not just going to do their time, they are also going to shift their mindset, and fatherhood is the key to accomplishing that goal.

I was then greeted by the Warden, Tim Buchanan, who told me that “fatherhood is one of the first things that inmates are spoken to about as soon as they get off of the bus. I’ve recognized that fatherhood is a straight path to their souls.”

Noble Corrections Program

Mr. Buchanan has a team of fatherhood champions who are equally passionate about engaging men around fatherhood. They help facilitate a number of fatherhood and parenting programs.

These programs include: InsideOut Dad®, Responsibilities As a Man (RAM), Fathers of Change, Family Ties, and TYRO Dads. They also offer a special annual event called “Celebrating Fatherhood” where inmates’ children come into the facility and spend time with their fathers. This event requires that participating fathers remain “ticket-free” (e.g. no conduct reports). Mr. Buchanan says this type of incentive-driven event has had a strong impact on reducing the number of tickets. They now have 1,600 men per year without a single ticket!

The InsideOut Dad® program is central to their work with fathers. More than 500 fathers have completed the program since 2009. They currently run 8 groups and have an InsideOut Dad® Alumni Organization for fathers who have completed the program. The Alumni Organization meets weekly to coordinate fundraisers, complete community service projects, and facilitate several of the InsideOut Dad® groups.

I was fortunate to meet many of these men from the Alumni Organization. They shared powerful stories of how InsideOut Dad® helped them become better men and fathers. One father shared how the program helped him re-establish the relationship with his daughter, with whom he had lost contact because of his drug addiction. He applied what he learned during the program to begin the reconciliation process. He proudly showed me a letter from his daughter that expressed a deep love and appreciation for the changes he made. He said this development would not have happened without InsideOut Dad®.

The treasurer of the Alumni Organization reinforced why the program has such an impact on participants when he said, “The men all have a lot of trust in the program, and it provides them with encouragement for the future along with tips to build a healthier future.”

I was energized when I left the facility (donning my new Forever Dads hat, which I’m proudly wearing in the group photo), knowing that so many families and communities are being transformed one father at a time through the great work at the Noble Correctional Institution.


Want to help incarcerated fathers? Volunteer to lead dads. You can get started by downloading the free sample of InsideOut Dad®.

InsideOut Dad® is the nation's only evidence-based fatherhood program designed specifically for incarcerated fathers. Please consider volunteering to help connect father to family.


The Father Factor Blog

Father Facts 7 is Here, Ready to Help You

The next edition of Father Facts is here! Father Facts 7 continues the tradition of National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) providing the most comprehensive resource on research on father absence and involvement.

Father Facts 7I'm very excited about Father Facts 7 because it includes nearly 200 new studies (197, to be exact). That’s a lot of new studies since we published Father Facts 6 in 2011. It also contains 14 new chapters and sections! They include state level data on father absence (which compliments the national data Father Facts has always included), the impact of father involvement on women's/mother's well-being, the societal costs of father absence, the biological connection between fathers and children, grandfathers raising grandchildren, and so much more.

In addition to all the latest research and data and the new chapters and sections, here is what you’ll find in the Father Facts 7 that takes this resource to an even more helpful level: 

  • An introduction to each section that describes its relevance—why it’s important.
  • A summary of the research and data in each section and subsection that describes what we know and don’t know about the subject/topic of the section or subsection. You don’t have to read every entry and decide what the research and data indicate.
  • Research and data are organized in descending chronological order so it’s easy to find the most recent research and data.
  • The electronic format is easy to search for the topics, research, and data you need. It also makes it easy to cut and paste research and data—and even the summaries—into research papers, proposals, presentations, emails, etc.

It’s also more convenient to acquire! Just purchase it here, receive the link to download it, and you’ll have it in no time.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank everyone who helped NFI create this new edition. I had the privilege of working with Dr. Jay Fagan of Temple University, one of the country's leading researchers on father involvement, and three of his graduate students—Jessica DeMarchis, Adina Freedman, and Mollie Cherson—to identify studies and data, published since our last edition in 2010, that increase our understanding of just how important fathers are to families, children, and our country. Their contribution was enormous, and I can't thank them enough.

Have you downloaded the sample? Get the sample here or visit here for purchasing. Please tell us what you think about this helpful resource and how it will help you in the comments of this post.

Father Facts 7

Dads Hold Key to Reducing Child Poverty

This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

The presence of married fathers in children's lives remains the most vital factor in reducing child poverty. Here's why.

Dads Hold Key to Reducing Child Poverty

The U.S. Census Bureau just released its report on income and poverty for 2014. The good news or bad news, depending on your perspective, is the overall rate for adults and children living in poverty did not change, from a statistically significant perspective, compared to 2013. In 2014, 13.5 percent of people aged 18 to 64 (26.5 million) were in poverty compared with 10.0 percent of people aged 65 and older (4.6 million) and 21.1 percent of children under age 18 (15.5 million). Children represented 23.3 percent of the total population and 33.3 percent of the people in poverty. It's disturbing that children represent more than a third of the people in poverty, especially because they have no control over their economic situation.

Because this proportion of the population in poverty includes all children regardless of family status, it's necessary to dig deeper into the data to reveal why fathers remain key to reducing child poverty. Fortunately, the Census Bureau digs that deeply. The bureau's analyses of the data reveal that: 

  • Children in father-absent homes experienced poverty at more than four times the rate of children in married-parent homes.
  • Nearly 1 in 2 children in father-absent homes (46.5 percent) were in poverty compared to only 1 in 10 children (10.6 percent) in married-parent homes.
  • The picture is worse for the youngest children. More than 1 in 2 children under age six in father-absent homes (55.1 percent) were in poverty.

These disturbing, depressing numbers show that the mere presence of more married fathers in children's lives will, from a population-based perspective, reduce child poverty. 

The only effective, long-term solution to increasing the proportion of children growing up with their married parents is to change cultural norms on the importance of living in a married-parent home for child well-being. The federal government has, with bipartisan support, tried to help by funding healthy marriage and responsible fatherhood programs. But no matter how successful these programs might be or eventually become in helping the children, parents and families they serve, they can't possibly serve enough people to affect the kind of culture change necessary to move the needle. Besides, the level of funding for this effort is minimal as it must compete for dollars with the many other and, frankly, important functions of government, such as funding the social safety net, infrastructure, education and research that are vital to create the vibrant economy in which all families can thrive. As a result, these programs, though important, have only scaled to a level that help some children and families at the highest risk for poverty.

Unfortunately, cultural norms on the importance of children growing up in a married-parent home have been headed in the wrong direction for years. Marriage among the young (age 18 to 32 years) has dropped like a stone during the last four generations, from 65 percent of people in the Silent Generation to 26 percent of Millennials. Moreover, a quarter of all adults age 25 or older have never been married, an all-time high. When they do marry, the average age at first marriage is also at an all-time high of 29.3 for men and 27.0 for women.

As a consequence of these and other trends, a higher proportion of children than ever are born to parents who aren't married. The unfortunate fact is we don't have the cultural will to reverse course. Too many people now see the purpose of marriage as one in which personal fulfillment is paramount and the primary if not sole role of marriage. Marriage has become about "me" and not "we" or "us," as in "family." While it is important that people feel fulfilled in marriage, the problem is far too many of us have separated marriage from its function of providing the ideal environment in which to raise healthy children and, thus, deny its impact on child well-being to the extent that we focus only on personal well-being. 

Can we do anything to reverse course? There is a vigorous debate about whether we should give up and say bye-bye to marriage, if not altogether at least to the importance of it as a vital institution. As I've written elsewhere, we can't give up on marriage. We must start by looking at it in a different way -- not as a zero-sum game between whether its role is personal fulfillment or to raise healthy children, but as an institution that can and should fulfill both roles.

The Father Factor Blog This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

Spotlight > Fighting for Fathers in Mobile, Alabama (Video)

Fighting crime and the high incarceration rates takes leaders who are willing to fight for fathers. In Mobile, Alabama, they have the answer to crime and incarceration...teach dads how to be better dads. In this post, watch how several inmate fathers in Mobile County Health Department's Fatherhood Initiative Program are learning how to connect to their families.

The father absence crisis in America is real. The crisis of Fathers Behind Bars is real too. The stats for fathers behind bars are:

  • 2.7 million children have a parent in prison or jail.
  • Ninety-two percent (92%) of parents in prison are fathers. 
  • 650,000+ ex-offenders are released from prison every year.
  • Two-thirds of ex-offenders, or 429,000, will likely re-offend within three (3) years.

Christopher Sasser (seen in the video below) is one of several inmates taking part in Mobile County Health Department's Fatherhood Initiative Program. It's the first time our InsideOut Dad® Program has been used in the metro jail. 

mobile county metro jail

"I didn't have a father. I met my father and three days later he died," says Sasser. 

InsideOut Dad® is designed to break the cycle and put the father back in a child's life.

Can't view the video? Watch here.

"It's more likely if the father is missing that child is going to be incarcerated, have problems in school...this (InsideOut Dad®) is all about rehabilitation and helping someone get back on point." —Harold Jones, Outreach Educator

Please watch the video and consider how you can help fathers connect to their family today.



Whether you work in corrections or are interested in volunteeting to teach dads, download the free sample > InsideOut Dad®

InsideOut Dad® is the nation's only evidence-based fatherhood program designed specifically for incarcerated fathers. Please consider volunteering to help connect father to family.

The Father Factor Blog

Free Webinar > Cutting Edge Tips on Running an Exceptional Fatherhood Program

We have awesome news. We have a great opportunity for you to get technical assistance—for free! Learn the newest tips for starting and running an exceptional fatherhood program.


Here are the details:

Who > Join NFI President Christopher A. Brown as he shares how to apply the latest behavioral science research in practical ways to help you design, market, and implement an exceptional fatherhood program.

What > Free Webinar on "Cutting Edge Tips for Running an Exceptional Fatherhood Program"

Date > September 17th, 2015

Time > 11:00am - 12:30pm EDT

Where & How > It's online and it's free! 


In this free webinar, you will learn the following >

Chris will cover six distinct areas of research and what those areas of research say about human behavior.

Chris will share

  • practical tips on how you can apply the knowledge you will gain to program design (e.g. how to structure a fatherhood program);
  • recruiting fathers into programs and retaining their participation; and
  • becoming a more effective practitioner regardless of whether you work one-on-one with fathers (e.g. as a case manager) or with groups of fathers (e.g. as a facilitator of a fatherhood program). 

Click here to register for this free webinar.

The Father Factor Blog

Faith-Based Fatherhood Spotlight > Pastor and His Dad Serve Fathers in Kentucky Jail

David Kibler is senior pastor at Catalyst Christian Church. He has found a way to combine two of his passions—parenting and ministry. He created fatherhood classes at the Jessamine County Detention Center and is helping connect fathers to families—even when the fathers are behind bars.

55ddcf6541b67.imageWriting for The Jessamine Journal, Amelia Orwick brought Pastor Kibler's great work to our attention. In her column, she discusses how InsideOut Dad®, our curriculum that works to bridge the gap between incarcerated fathers and their children, is helping connect incarcerated fathers to their families. The following post comes mostly from Amelia's article. We recommend you read her full article here

“If we’re not going to carry the gospel to dark places then what are we doing?” Kibler asked. “One of the darkest places in Jessamine County is the jail.”

In June, Kibler and his own father wrapped up their first session in Jessamine County, after getting their start at the Fayette County Detention Center through the Lexington Leadership Foundation in 2013. They are the first father-son teaching duo in the area, Kibler said.

What's a typical class look like? 10 inmates usually attend one class per week for a 12-week period. In Jessamine County, however, inmates attended two classes per week for six weeks.

“They all love their kids,” Kibler said. “They just don’t know how to be dads.”

A father of four, Kibler has no problem teaching the men about character building, discipline, co-parenting and childhood development.

“Most of these guys don’t have dads,” Kibler said. “To see a grown man and his grown father working together, it’s been a really neat example for them.”

“Most of these guys don’t have dads." —Pastor Kibler

Kibler, who has taught almost 10 sessions alongside his father, also enjoys the familial experience, he said.

“It’s really cool when your dad jumps in on something you’re passionate about,” Kibler said. “ ... We just have a great time.”

By improving relationships, InsideOut Dad® lowers recidivism rates at the detention centers where it is in place. On average, about 70 percent of addicts return to jail. But for men who have completed the program, that number is only 35 percent, Kibler said.

“It’s effective, it’s proven and it’s faith based,” Kibler said. “It’s a fantastic program.”

Implementing the program was the beginning of a push for more rehabilitative programs at the detention center, said Jon Sallee, Jessamine County jailer.

“I hope this is just the tip of the iceberg of what we’re going to be able to do at the jail,” Sallee said.

The feedback from inmates who participated in the first session was overwhelmingly positive, he added.

“They all really enjoyed the program and learned a lot. Hopefully they’ll use those tools when they get out,” Sallee said. “ ... They can come out and be with their families, be more productive, be more understanding.”

Kibler remains in touch with many who have completed the program via Facebook, he said. Others have joined Catalyst Christian Church and given their testimony.

“(Catalyst) celebrates the prison mission,” Kibler said. “ ... The support I get from my church is amazing.”

Kibler said he also makes himself an “ongoing resource” by offering free marriage counseling and wedding services to the men who go on to marry the mothers of their children.

“I really like these guys. They’re my friends,” Kibler said. “We spend a lot of time together.”

The program is offered to inmates on a first-come, first-serve basis. Kibler has grown as a minister and a father since becoming involved with InsideOut Dad, he said.

“My favorite time of the week is 10:30 on Sunday morning at Catalyst,” Kibler said. “My second favorite time is 9 o’clock on Tuesday mornings at the (detention center).”

Nice work Pastor Kibler, Catalyst Church, and the jail in Kentucky! Keep up the great work of serving fathers and families in your community!


This post spotlights our InsideOut Dad Christian™ resource. Whether you work in corrections, are faith-based, or simply want to volunteer leading dads in your community, learn more and download free samples of our popular InsideOut Dad® Programs here


The Father Factor Blog

Spotlight > Washington State Dept of Corrections Teaches Fathers from Prison [Video]

I often complain about all that's broken with America's "corrections" system. But, after seeing this video, I know one correctional officer living up to the title. Imagine a uniformed correctional officer getting off work, changing into his normal street clothes, and then volunteering to teach dads how to be better dads from prison. That's who you will meet in this post. Read and watch how Washington State Department of Corrections is connecting father to family.

Screen_Shot_2015-08-24_at_3.32.58_PMYou know about the father absence crisis in America and you know a big part of this crisis is Fathers Behind Bars, but here's a few reminders:

  • There are 2.7 million children with a parent in prison or jail.
  • Ninety-two percent (92%) of parents in prison are fathers. 
  • 650,000+ ex-offenders are released from prison every year.
  • Two-thirds of ex-offenders, or 429,000, will likely re-offend within three (3) years.

This problem is one the Department of Corrections in Washington State is addressing. On any given evening, you'll find dads meeting to talk fatherhood and family.

"There's no facilitators. There's no students. What it is is 16 participants trying to become better dads and learning about ourselves." —Joseph Nunan (Correctional Officer, Washington State Penitentiary)

Can't view the video? Watch here.

Derrick Jones, an offender in the Washington State Penitentiary says of the Inside Out Dad® Program:

Primarily, the program is really geared toward men learning to communicate. Really, learning how to communicate with our children, learning how to communicate with ourselves, reflect back on our past, and try to understand why I think the way that I think.

The InsideOut Dad® Program is offered at several prisons in Washington State. The goal of the program is to offer the skills that fathers in prison need to help connect them to their children and families—both while in prison and once released.

We are encouraged by Officer Nunan and what he has to say:  

What the program does is to let the inmates know why they're there, to make them understand what happened to them to get there, and to be able to say you've got things to offer to your children. 

Can you imagine the sense of purpose this can give to father behind bars? To understand that he matters. That he can correct mistakes made in life. That he can work to restore what may be broken in his family or with his child.

The video shows John Radzikowski, a volunteer, explain the importance of having a program like InsideOut Dad® for inmates:

The prison culture itself does not allow for men to talk about their children in an intimate way. What this has done is we can together collectively to talk about our parenting, and not only our parenting skills, but also if we had parents in our own lives. And what that led to is dealing with issues of the heart.

In the West Complex, the correctional officers who volunteer for InsideOut Dad® come in plain clothes, during non-work hours, and they volunteer their time to help these dads become better fathers.

Officer Nunan says of the program:

We can see a direct correlation between this course and the inmate attitudes on the outside of this course...There's a positivity in there (during a program session) that I never expected. And it's something that should be harnessed and encouraged to grow.

We agree with you, Officer Nunan. This program should be encouraged to grow!



Whether you work in corrections or would like to volunteer leading dads to be better dads, you can download the free sample > InsideOut Dad®

InsideOut Dad® is the nation's only evidence-based fatherhood program designed specifically for incarcerated fathers. Please consider volunteering to help connect father to family.

The Father Factor Blog

Upcoming Free Webinar from FRPN > Engaging Mothers & Improving Coparenting in Fatherhood Programs

On Tuesday, September 22 from 12:00 – 1:30 p.m. EST, the Fatherhood Research and Practice Network (FRPN) will host their third learning community webinar for fatherhood practitioners and researchers. Find more information in this post.


NFI is committed to helping you help dads. NFI's president Christopher A. Brown serves on the FRPN steering committee and as you may have seen on this blog, we post updates from this research network periodically. 

Here's a quick reminder about theFatherhood Research & Practice Network (FRPN)...

The FRPN seeks to:

  • Promote rigorous evaluation of fatherhood programs.
  • Expand the number of researchers and practitioners collaborating to evaluate these programs.
  • Disseminate information that leads to effective fatherhood practice and evaluation research.

The FRPN will host a webinar called "Engaging Mothers in Fatherhood Programs and Improving Coparenting Among Unmarried Parents" 

Key topics to be discussed in this free webinar will include:

  • Why mother engagement is important for fatherhood programs.
  • Why mothers may be reluctant to participate in fatherhood programs and successful strategies to engage them.
  • Coparenting interventions and curricula.
  • Addressing domestic violence and safety.
  • Current research on coparenting.
  • Relevant outcomes and measurement.
  • Moving the coparenting field forward.
Register for the FRPN Engaging Mothers and Improving Coparenting Among Unmarried Parents webinar here.

The Father Factor Blog

How To Fund Your Fatherhood Program

We often get requests from fatherhood leaders looking for funding. We understand you want to do all you can to help fathers and families in your community. We also know organizational budgets are tight and funding can be difficult to secure. Maybe you're looking to secure funding or seeking fresh ideas. In our experience of working with program leaders, we've found several ways to find funds—that leaders often don't think about. Be sure you're taking advantage of what's out there related to funding your fatherhood program.

Funding from Your Own Budget

We know, we know. Your budget is maxed out. But, what doesn't get planned doesn't get done. So, the first and best option to consider is how you can find funding within your own organizational budget.

Consider pulling a small amount of money from a program(s) that are not as successful as expected, or from a budget where, with some shrewd planning, costs could be reduced, and that extra funding be shifted to investing in low-cost fatherhood resources to augment your services. (And, when you have the opportunity to plan budgets for the next fiscal year, be sure to include fatherhood in your planning, and earmark funds for fatherhood skill-building resources, just as you would for other handouts/brochures for other types of clients you serve.)

In case you haven't seen, NFI offers affordable skill-building resources that you can start using in your day-to-day activities with a small budget and little to no staff time. For example, NFI’s brochures ($17.99 for a 50 pack) and pocket guides with tips for dads and new dads ($12.99 for a 5 pack) are easy, low-intensity ways to begin by adding some fatherhood materials to your offerings. Providing materials that are specifically father focused is an easy, budget-friendly way to begin.

If you're eager to start a more robust, high-intensity fatherhood program with funding from your own budget, NFI offers complete fatherhood program kits that allow you to begin your fatherhood program for as little at $600 or less with no formal facilitator training required. This “out-of-the-box” approach means that NFI’s complete program kits come with a facilitator’s manual, CD/DVD, and at least 10 fathering handbooks for your class attendees; all you need to budget for is the ongoing handbook costs (approximately $9 per dad, per class.) No formal training is required for your facilitators because of the easy to follow program format and facilitator tips within the facilitator’s manual. (Note: NFI offers formal curriculum training for facilitators if desired.) Think about whom in your organization could lead a fatherhood group, or seek volunteers to step into this role.

Another programming alternative could be investing in one of NFI’s medium intensity workshops kits that cover a variety of topics. For example, The 7 Habits of a 24/7 Dad® Workshop is an 8-hour workshop you can run for fathers that combines the fundamental fathering principles from National Fatherhood Initiative's 24/7 Dad® programs with FranklinCovey®'s timeless 7 Habits. The 7 Habits program costs as little as $379 to begin, plus the cost of additional handbooks for dads who attend. Or, consider the popular Doctor Dad® Workshops, which allow you to choose from four child health and safety topics to equip dads with practical skills they need to care for their children: The Safe Child, The Injured Child, The Sick Child, and the Well Child. You can simply run one or all four workshops, for as little as $79 per workshops (or get all four for $239 including starter handbooks.)

Whichever level you choose, providing father-specific, skill-building materials at some level is a step in the right direction.

Funding from Outside Sources

Funding from outside sources is an option that your organization may want to pursue – in addition to starting fatherhood work on a smaller scale using funds from your own budget. With some planning you may be able to find an outside funding source that will provide for all aspects of your work with fathers.

From training your fatherhood program facilitators, to providing funding to sustain your program (staff stipends, ongoing fathering handbook costs, and other materials needed to run fatherhood program classes), outside funding could open doors for your fatherhood program you may have never imagined. And, you may be able to serve even more fathers than you ever thought possible.

There are several routes your organization may want to explore in seeking outside funding:

  • Individuals
  • Foundations
  • Corporations
  • Local, State & Federal Government
  • Special Events/Fundraisers

Here are websites you can research funding opportunities. 

Federal Grant Resources

  • > A federal site that aggregates all federal grant opportunities. You can search for grants currently being offered and access grant writing resources.
  • Office of Management & Budget (OMB) Circulars > Provide direction on federal budgeting and expensing for nonprofits, education institutions and state, local and Indian Tribe governments.

Foundation / Grant Funding

  • Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood Grants > With these grants coming to an end, the Administration has proposed a more comprehensive Fatherhood, Marriage and Families Innovation Fund as a successor initiative.
  • Foundation Center > A subscription-based website that offers research on foundations, including family foundations and other tools for grant seekers.
  • Alliance for Nonprofit Excellence > Search for all types of grants.
  • The Grant Station > An online funding resource for organizations seeking grants throughout the world.  Providing access to a comprehensive online database of grant makers, as well as other valuable tools, GrantStation can help your organization make smarter, better-informed fundraising decisions. 
  • The Grantsmanship Center > Offers a variety of training such as The Grantsmanship Training Program, Earned Income Strategies and Competing for Federal Grants.
  • Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training (GIFT) > Provides a range of training programs and webinars to help you raise money from your community.  Additionally, they offer articles and subscription based services to aid in your fundraising efforts. 

Question > What would you add to this list?
Are there ways you've found funding that could help other fatherhood leaders?

Please note we cover the details of funding your fatherhood program in our Father Engagement Certificate Training. We have five total sessions in our training. The first four sessions cover foundational information, program design, recruitment and retention, and involving moms. In the fifth session we cover...

FEC_training_logoFundraising: How to Develop a Funding Plan for a Fatherhood Program
We help you think through how you will fund your fatherhood program and the importance of a Fund Development Plan. You will learn about the nuances of raising funds from individuals and foundations, as well as how to profile, research, select, and engage different types of funders/funding streams. Thinking through your funding options will help you prepare to launch a successful - and sustainable - fatherhood program.

The Father Factor Blog

Netflix's New Parental Leave Policy Lacks Teeth

This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

While we should applaud Netflix's recent announcement of paid parental leave of up to one year for moms and dads after the birth or adoption of a child, it lacks the teeth and innovation necessary to encourage dads to take full advantage of this progressive policy and for Netflix to reap its full potential.

Netflix's policy is good for dads, families and our country. It sends a strong message in a country that's far behind others in providing paid parental leave, especially to dads. It recognizes that dads:

  • Spend more time than ever in the daily care of their children.
  • Provide more care to their children after they return to work when they the take more time off from work after the birth or adoption of a child.
  • Are more conflicted than moms in their attempt to balance work and family.
  • Are more likely than moms to scale back at home when they experience family demands and work overload.

Perhaps most important, it recognizes that more involved dads increase the well-being of children, mothers, families and communities.

Netflix's policy is also good for Netflix. Many dads fear taking advantage of parental leave and other work-family benefits. Despite these fears, when dads balance work and family, they are more productive employees who advance farther and faster in their careers. Involved dads--especially Millennial dads--are less fearful of the impact of balancing work and family. They demand jobs that provide paid parental leave. This demand from the newest dads is why it's no surprise that tech companies like Netflix lead the way in providing paid parental leave.

The challenge for Netflix is how to encourage dads to take full advantage of this policy. Dads are not moms. They require efforts that speak specifically to them--that meet their needs and wants as dads broadly and within the context of work-family balance. Dads are much less likely than moms to take parental leave. While 90 percent of dads in the U.S. take some time off from work, most of them take a week or less off.

To help their dads and the company, Netflix must give the policy the teeth it needs. Netflix must proactively encourage dads to take time off. Nothing in Netflix's announcement--or other commentary on the potential challenges of successfully implementing this policy--suggests that it is anything but a passive one. It lacks innovative tactics--any tactics, for that matter--that will give it a better chance to hold value and succeed with dads. This failure to recognize the need for an innovative, proactive effort to encourage dads to take full advantage of the policy is somewhat surprising given that Netflix is synonymous with innovation and the testing of tactics and approaches that disrupted and transformed how Americans consume movies and television shows.

Netflix must develop a campaign for dads that it constantly tests and refines (e.g. using a Lean Startup approach). The campaign must include, at a minimum:

  • Messages for dads, delivered through multiple internal channels and with enough frequency to be effective, that address the fears some dads may have about taking full advantage of the policy, such as it might hurt their career prospects or their job duties will suffer in their absence. These messages must include a value proposition that resonates specifically with dads.
  • Resources that educate dads (before and after the birth or adoption) about how to be involved dads, such as referrals to websites, brochures and other print materials, and on-site workshops/seminars that provide fathering education.
  • Ways to measure the impact of the policy on dads. Netflix must track the impact of the policy, such as the rate at which dads use the policy at all and, if so, how much leave they take. Netflix must analyze the data in a way that identifies the kinds of dads who do and don't take advantage of it using demographic, psychographic, and behavioral characteristics. Netflix must also gather qualitative feedback from dads on the impact of the policy and on the effectiveness of the campaign.

Netflix must also involve dads in shaping the campaign and delivering elements of it. The company should, for example, consider forming an interdepartmental team of dads at different levels of the company to help develop and evaluate potential tactics. It should use dads who work at Netflix as spokespersons to deliver messages that contain the value proposition.

Netflix must approach this effort from the consumer-based mindset that has led to so much of its success. The dads who work at Netflix are, after all, the consumers of its policies. Dads have different needs than moms when it comes to being parents and balancing work and family. They deserve the same dedication to the effective use by dads of this policy that their company makes to create the algorithms that meet the entertainment tastes of its diverse external customers.

The Father Factor Blog This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

Research to Application: Cognitive Biases

In the third installment in this series (Framing and the “No Choice Option”), we introduced you to the work of Daniel Kahneman in which he captures the research on the cognitive biases humans suffer from in making decisions, regardless of the decisions they make.1 He describes how we rely on two cognitive systems when making decisions. System 1 “operates automatically and quickly, with little or no effort and no sense of voluntary control.” We often call it our “gut instinct.” System 2 “allocates attention to the effortful mental activities that demand it, including complex computations” and involves deliberate choice. We often call it our “rational side.”

We primarily rely on System 1 to make most of our decisions. Unfortunately, it often leads us astray and gets us into trouble. The reason it leads us astray is that it relies on rules of thumb that give us a starting point from which to base our decisions. The problem is these rules of thumb can bias our thinking in ways that lead to poor decisions in many instances because we don’t spend adequate time and energy thinking through those decisions. 

This installment focuses on how you can use the knowledge of cognitive biases to improve your work with fathers. While the number of biases is large, this installment focuses on several of the most common ones you might encounter in your work with fathers.

research-to-application-cognitive-biasesConfirmation Bias

The confirmation bias refers to people’s tendency to seek evidence that supports their current views. People naturally want reassurance that their views are correct. They don’t typically challenge their own views by seeking evidence to disprove them. It’s threatening to people’s sense of whom they are to admit when they’re wrong. That threat makes the confirmation bias one of the most potent cognitive biases in work with fathers because most fathers don’t actively look for evidence that their views might be wrong. If they rely primarily on punishing their children rather than disciplining them, for example, they won’t look for evidence that they should use punishment as a last resort, not a first option.

When fathers suffer from the confirmation bias, it can be difficult to introduce new concepts about how to be a good father. Using the punishment versus discipline example once again, fathers can find it difficult to swallow the notion that guiding and teaching their children with effective discipline techniques is more effective, and better for their children’s overall well-being, than taking away cherished privileges or using corporal punishment. 

Availability Bias

The availability bias refers to people’s tendency to recall information that is most readily available. It causes people to overestimate the probability that events will occur. Child abductions and plane crashes, for example, tend to generate lots of coverage in the mass media. As a result, people commonly overestimate the frequency of child abductions and plane crashes.

When fathers suffer from the availability bias, it can be difficult to know the accuracy of the information they provide. That difficulty is not caused by a conscious decision on the part of fathers (e.g. they lie) but because they don’t know they might be misled by their most recent experiences. If you ask a father how happy he is in his relationship with the mother of his children, for example, his answer will most likely hinge on the nature of the most recent experiences with her—perhaps even the most recent one—not on the breadth of the experiences with her over the course of the relationship. If the most recent experience was a poor one, he will be more likely to say he is unhappy, and vice versa, than he is.

Hindsight Bias

You’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase “hindsight is 20/20,” which refers to our ability to more clearly evaluate a choice after it happens, and know the outcome of that choice, than before we made the choice. The problem with that phrase is it’s misleading. It assumes that we should have known, or did know all along, what would happen even though we could not possibly or accurately predict the outcome.

This hindsight bias refers to people’s tendency to create narratives (stories) about past events so they can make sense of unpredictable outcomes. Regardless of how sound decisions made or processes put in place were at the time of the choice, this tendency causes people to more readily blame good decisions and processes related to poor outcomes than give credit to good decisions and processes related to good outcomes, a bias all its own called the outcome bias. In other words, people have difficulty understanding that good decisions and processes can result in unpredictable, poor outcomes just as easily as they can lead to unpredictable, good outcomes.

When fathers suffer from the hindsight bias, it can be difficult to help them understand that they are not necessarily to blame (or to blame as much) for specific outcomes. When a father assesses a failed relationship with the mother of his children, for example, he might disproportionately attribute the failure to himself or to her. Perhaps he made mostly good decisions as they tried to work through their issues, but factors beyond his control had a major contribution to the failed relationship. The father may think he knew all along that the relationship was headed to a poor conclusion when he didn’t know and couldn’t have known the outcome. 

On the other hand, when fathers suffer from this bias they take more credit than they deserve for good outcomes. A father might take more credit for raising a healthy, well-adjusted child, for example, than he gives to the mother.  He may say that his firm discipline was the key factor in how his child turned out when many other factors contributed just as much or more.

Ideas on Application

When it comes to working with fathers individually or in groups, you can use knowledge of cognitive biases to more effectively work with them. Here are a few general examples from which you can develop specific approaches or tactics that best fit the context in and fathers with whom you work:

  • Confirmation Bias: Knowing that many fathers will seek evidence to confirm their existing beliefs, attitudes, and behavior—and that they will resist changing the way they think and behave—better prepares you to work with fathers, especially on challenging topics such as masculinity, child discipline, and healthy relationships (e.g. communication with their spouse or partner). When you help fathers tackle these challenging topics, take extra care to prepare yourself for what can be a long process of change around certain issues.
  • Availability Bias: Knowing that many fathers will rely on recent events and experiences to shape the information they provide can help you broaden your thinking and approach to dig more deeply into what contributes to fathers’ thoughts and feelings. Ask probing questions to determine what fathers use as the foundation (evidence) for the information they provide. If a father says he is unhappy in his relationship with the mother of his children, for example, you can ask questions to determine whether he is narrowly framing his feeling based on a recent experience(s) with her or the breadth of the relationship. If the former, you can challenge him to re-evaluate his feeling based on the breadth of the relationship.
  • Hindsight Bias: Knowing that many fathers will create stories about past events to explain unpredictable outcomes, you could ask them, for example, to create timelines that include the decisions they made and processes they put in place and examine with them how much those decisions and processes contributed to good and bad outcomes. Help them evaluate the quality of the decisions and processes separate from the outcomes. In some cases, they might learn they should not abandon a good tactic to become a better father or partner, for example, just because it didn’t lead to the desired outcome. Help them understand that the good tactic becomes the means and the end—even though the father hopes it will lead to a good outcome—and that it might contribute to a good outcome the next time.

Regardless of how you apply the knowledge of cognitive biases, approach your effort as an experiment. Keep track of what works with fathers in general and with specific kinds of fathers (e.g. custodial and non-custodial) so that you can apply what works in future work with fathers one-on-one or in groups, and avoid what doesn’t work. 


As you consider using the knowledge of cognitive biases to improve your work with fathers, consider the following resources: 

  • The book Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.
  • The book Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
  • The book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
  • The book Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape our Decisions by Dan Ariely

Don’t forget to look for more posts and reference guides in this series!

1) Research to Application > Cues, Triggers, and Nudges

2) Research to Application > Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose

3) Research to Application > Framing and the "No Choice Option"

4) Research to Application > The Power of The "Deviant Dad"

5) Research to Application > Keystone Habits

Click here for the full PDF of the this post. 

(1) Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, Fast and Slow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

About the "Research to Application" Series

As the nation’s #1 provider of fatherhood skill-building programs and resources, NFI provides guidance for practitioners and organizations on how they might be able to use to use the latest research on human behavior to enhance the effectiveness of their work with fathers. NFI provides this guidance in a series of blog posts called Research to Application: Guidance for Practitioners and Programs. The series is also available in the form of quick reference guides that you can download by clicking on the button at the end of the posts.

The series offers a platform for generating dialogue among NFI, organizations, and practitioners on ways that research can be applied to addressing pain points in serving fathers. This post is the sixth one in the series. It provides ideas on how you might integrate research on cognitive biases. Integrating this research could make you more effective in your work with fathers (e.g. facilitating a fatherhood program or working with fathers one-on-one).

If you implement any of the ideas in this post, or develop and implement your own ideas, please share them with us at We’ll use your experiences to update this guide so it is even more useful.

3 Rules You're Breaking When Talking with Your Child

I know all you want to talk about is relationships. You want to sit around communicating all day long. Not. Here's the deal though, when we talk about relationships, we could talk about many different things, but the most important topic when it comes to relationships is communication. In our work with dads, we see communication issues play out when it comes to their children and with the wife and/or mom of the children. Communication is often a big issue when it comes to marriage, coparenting, and fatherhood. That said, let's talk about communication...

3 Rules You're Breaking When Talking with Your Child communication relationships

Last time to good luck, let's recall the five traits of the 24/7 Dad:

  1. The 24/7 Dad is Self-Aware: The 24/7 Dad is aware of himself as a man and aware of how important he is to his family. Read more about The Importance of the Self-Aware Father.
  2. The 24/7 Dad Cares For Self: The 24/7 Dad takes care of himself. Read more about The Oxygen Mask Rule of Fatherhood.
  3. The 24/7 Dad Understands Fathering Skills: The 24/7 Dad knows his role in the family. Read more about the 3 Things You Should Do > Because You're Being Watched.
  4. The 24/7 Dad Understands Parenting Skills:  The 24/7 Dad nurtures his children. Read Pretty Much Everything You Should Know to be a Master Nurturer
  5. The 24/7 Dad Understands Relationship Skills: The 24/7 Dad builds and maintains healthy relationships with his children, wife/mother of his children, other family members, friends, and community.

Recall the great news? These five traits have a guarantee: master each of them and you are a 24/7 Dad. Let's talk about trait five, a dad and his relationship skills. Well, let's keep this realistic. We can't fix everything related to relationships in one post. But, we can make progress on communication.

For the last several posts, we've talked about how you, dad, are unique and irreplaceable in your child's life. When it comes to parenting and your relationship to your child and your child's mom, it's no different. 

The 24/7 Dad Understands Relationship Skills.

The 24/7 Dad builds and maintains healthy relationships with his children, wife/mother of his children, other family members, friends, and community. He knows and values how relationships shape his children and their lives. The 24/7 Dad knows how the relationship with his wife/mother of his children affects his children and creates a good relationship with her for the sake of his children. He always looks to improve the skills he uses to communicate with others.

The 24/7 Dad communicates his thoughts, feelings, and actions on a daily basis in a way that respects others. Still, one of the greatest challenges 24/7 Dads face in raising their children is how to better communicate. 

What makes the 24/7 Dad different from other dads is that he understands problems with communication start with him and no one else.

Here are 3 rules to follow for communicating with your child...

Odds are good you didn’t wake up this morning and say to yourself, “You know, I should communicate with my kids better...” While you know the importance of communication, you probably need a reminder every now and then that how you communicate daily is of utmost importance. 

Comparisons are sometimes helpful for tough topics. Let’s try one. Instead of calling this tough topic “communication,” let’s call it “racing.”

Reframe your idea about what communication is and change the word “communication” to “racing.” With racing, there are three rules professional drivers follow that totally apply to talking with your child. 

Rule #1—Know Your Racetrack

How you race depends on the track. Drivers know there are four types of racetracks, and they treat each track differently—mainly because each track requires a different strategy.

Likewise, the age or “track” your child is on should change how you communicate. Consider applying the four different racetracks to the stage of your child as follows:

1) Short tracks > These tracks are shorter than one mile and take a more physical strategy.
 In short-track racing, there’s more bumping of cars. If you’re the dad of a new baby, one of your main strategies should be physical touch. Hold your baby as much as possible. Communicating during this stage in your child’s life is as much about cuddling than it is about talking.

2) Intermediate tracks > These tracks are usually between one and two miles. They’re challenging, but somewhat “routine” in that all of these tracks are made up of four left turns. The dad of a school-aged child understands the importance of establishing daily routines when it comes to connecting with his child. During this time, you’re busy and so is your child. So every moment must count.

3) Superspeedways > These tracks are usually two miles or more. They’re the fastest of all the tracks in professional racing. The dad of a teenager understands just how fast time passes at this stage of his child’s life. Communication during this stage must take on great quality; because often, the fast pace of life as the dad of a teen may seem to reach speeds of over 200 miles per hour.

4) Road Courses > Only the most experienced drivers do well on road courses. As a dad of a college-age child and/or beyond, you will have more “turns” than the other three dads. At this stage, it will be how well you maneuver through the turns that will give you a successful outcome.

Become an expert on the track you are racing for each stage in your child’s life. While you can prepare somewhat for what will happen, you must complete many laps around the track to gain the experience you need for effective communication with your child at any age.

Rule #2—Practice, Practice, Practice. And then Practice Some More.

When drivers aren’t “on the track,” they practice. Their work is about more than that short moment on the racetrack. All of their time leading up to the race is spent on practice.

When is the right time to practice? Early and often. Just like the best drivers raced cars when they were young, you must spend time and talk with your child early and often. 

It’s never too early to talk and listen to your child. Spend time with your child and have a purpose in what you do during your time together. Seize every moment to get practice. 

Rule #3—Make Adjustments

Drivers know success isn’t simply about practice and performing well on the track. The best drivers know the importance of making adjustments. 

Adjustments are crucial in racing. A driver that can’t lead his team to make mid-race adjustments won’t win. Likewise, you will learn to be a dad by trial and error. You will make mistakes. Things will go wrong. Great drivers know the importance of making adjustments, from research and development in the off-season to communicating the necessary adjustments to his team during the race. 

Research and development is the science behind the racing. If you toured a NASCAR research facility, for example, you typically won't see the driver and the car together.

Likewise, you will need to study fatherhood, even if you don’t live with your child. Become a student of fatherhood. Learn from books, articles, magazines, and more experienced dads. 

As a racecar driver, how you race depends on your knowledge and skill of the track, the amount of time you practice, and the amount of effort you use to make adjustments. With the right skills, experience, and practice, you can be successful with any track...err...with any child! 

The 24/7 Dad asks himself: How well do I relate?

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Please go here to buy the shirt! Then, share pics of yourself or the dad in your life using #247Dad on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Fatherhood leaders > Wear this unique t-shirt to show how proud you are to be a leader. Give it to dads who attend your program or as a graduation gift.

Dads, Moms, & Children > Wear this shirt to show your passion for fatherhood and inspire those around you to live as responsible fathers. Or, give as a gift to a dad you know.

Question > What does being a 24/7 Dad mean to you?

The Father Factor Blog

Why an Open Entry Program is a Bad Idea

If you run or plan to run a fatherhood program that allows fathers to enter the program after it starts, reconsider that approach. 


Allowing fathers to enter and exit a program at the beginning, middle, or end -- known as "open entry" -- can seem like a practical and compassionate approach to structuring a program. The rationale for such a program is that it offers the flexibility many fathers need (e.g. helps them integrate participation with work and family commitments) and respects their innate knowledge of what they need and will best help them become better fathers. Unfortunately, the best intentions are not indicative of the best approach to working with fathers. Research shows this approach can backfire and actually harm fathers and fatherhood programs.

In a just released practitioner's brief from Mathematica Policy Research that is part of a national evaluation of federally-funded fatherhood programs known as PACT (Parents and Children Together), researchers compared two open-entry fatherhood programs to two "integrated cohort" programs, an approach that requires fathers enter a program at its start and proceed through the entire program together. One way to think of the difference between the two approaches is one is a four-course meal that everyone eats and the other is a buffet from which everyone chooses what they eat.

The similarity in the four programs is they provide the same kind of education on parenting, relationships, and employment in a workshop format. The two integrated cohort programs, however, offer the workshops in a prescribed sequence because the content is integrated. The two open-entry programs, on the other hand, encourage but don't require fathers to attend workshops in a specific sequence. They offer separate workshops that allow fathers flexibility in which ones they attend and when they attend them. This difference makes the latter approach "self-paced." Another difference is in the intensity of the programs. The integrated cohort programs are more intense. Fathers participate daily and, as a result, can receive more total hours of content and complete the program in a shorter amount of time than can the fathers in the open-entry programs. 

Given what I've shared so far about the two types of programs, take a minute to answer this question before you read further: What result(s) for the programs did the researchers compare? 

If you're unfamiliar with the objectives of the PACT evaluation, it might surprise you that they compared overall participation in the programs and retention in the two programs. Perhaps you thought they compared the effect of the programs on knowledge, attitudes, or skills related to father involvement. That's not an incorrect answer, but you're ahead of the game. Researchers will release those data in a future brief/report.

As you undoubtedly know, participation and retention are two of the greatest challenges faced by fatherhood programs. So the focus of this research speaks directly to the impact of these two approaches (program structures) on those pain points. 

If you were surprised by the focus of this research on participation and retention, you might also be surprised by these results:

  • Participation (defined as attending a workshop at least once) in integrated cohort programs was much higher than in open-entry programs.
  • Retention (defined as participation in at least half of a workshop's sessions within the first four months) was much higher in integrated cohort programs than in open-entry programs.

To review the detailed results, click here to download the brief.

To be fair, a number of factors likely affected the results other than the structures of the two approaches, such as the characteristics of the fathers (e.g. fathers in the integrated cohort programs had more challenges than fathers in the open-entry programs); the quality of the content of parenting, relationships, and employment components; and the characteristics and skills of the staff who delivered the workshops. Nevertheless, the differences in participation and retention were so large that it's clear the structure of the approaches affected participation and retention. The fathers in the integrated approach, for example, completed an average of 79 hours of education compared to an average of only 13 hours for the fathers in the open-entry programs. 

Recall that I said you should reconsider an open-entry approach. Whether you use such an approach depends on the goals and objectives of your program, the needs and wants of the fathers you serve or want to serve, and the resources at your disposal. Regardless, if you use a program with integrated content--such as NFI's 24/7 Dad®, InsideOut Dad®, or Understanding Dad® programs--you should use an integrated cohort approach to ensure you will achieve the outcomes the programs can produce.

What goals and objectives do you have for your fatherhood program/effort?

Have you thought through whether your program/effort should use an integrated cohort or open-entry approach to meet its goals and objectives?

The Father Factor Blog

What are the Global Challenges to Father Involvement?

The challenge to create a world in which every child has a 24/7 Dad is underscored by a new report entitled, "The State of the World's Fathers." Recently released by MenCare, a global fatherhood campaign, this unique report provides insight into the challenges we face across the globe to encouraging father involvement.

What are the Global Challenges to Father Involvement? state of the world's fathersAs the report points out, 80% of the world's men will become fathers. We must do everything we can to ensure as many of these fathers as possible are responsibly involved in the lives of their children. With that backdrop, this report:

"...brings together key international research findings along with program and policy examples related to men’s participation in caregiving; in sexual and reproductive health and rights; in maternal, newborn, and child health; in violence and violence prevention; and in child development."

Here are the major findings and six recommendations for increasing father involvement across the globe. I encourage you to download the executive summary and full report to better understand these findings and recommendations. If you work with fathers from countries outside the U.S., you will find this report especially helpful.


  • Involved fatherhood helps children thrive.
  • Involved fatherhood allows women and girls to achieve their full potential – now and in future generations.
  • Involved fatherhood makes men happier and healthier.
  • Men’s involvement in caregiving is increasing in some parts of the world, but nowhere does it equal that of women.
  • Fathers want to spend more time with their children.
  • Men’s participation and support are urgently needed to ensure that all children are wanted children. 
  • Engaging men – in ways that women want – early on in prenatal visits, in childbirth, and immediately after the birth of a child can bring lasting benefits.
  • Promoting fathers’ involvement must include efforts to interrupt the cycle of violence.
  • Children, women, and men benefit when fathers take parental leave.
  • Men’s greater involvement in care work also brings economic benefits.


  • Create national and international action plans to promote involved, non-violent fatherhood and men’s and boys’ equal sharing of unpaid care work.
  • Take these action plans and policies into public systems and institutions to enable and promote men’s equal participation in parenting and caregiving.
  • Institute and implement equal, paid, and non-transferrable parental leave policies in both public and private sectors, as well as other policies that allow women’s equal participation in the labor force and men’s equal participation in unpaid care work.
  • Gather and analyze data on men’s involvement as fathers and caregivers and generate new evidence from programs and policies that work to transform the distribution of unpaid care, prevent violence against women and against children, and improve health and development outcomes for women, children, and men.
  • Achieve a radical transformation in the distribution of care work through programs with men and boys, as well as with women and girls, that challenge social norms and promote their positive involvement in the lives of children.
  • Recognize the diversity of men’s caregiving and support it in all of its forms.

After you read the report, I'd love to hear from you about how it might have helped you better understand the global challenges we face in encouraging father involvement and how it might help you in your work.

How much do you know about the global challenges to father involvement?

Do you work with fathers from other countries? How do their cultural norms and values hinder or facilitate father involvement?

The Father Factor Blog


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