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The Father Factor

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Get Your FREE Father Friendly™ Check-Up

Last week, I attended the Care Net Pregnancy Resource Center conference where I met hundreds of wonderful people working with women and men in the midst of crisis pregnancies.

When I asked them, "How are You Working with Fathers?" I received a variety of responses from, "Well, we aren't, really", to "We want to, but don't know how", to "We have a Fatherhood Program Coordinator on staff."

And no matter what kind of social work your organization does, I am sure - if asked - I could receive similar answers. 

Father Friendly Checkup Header

While having a fatherhood program coordinator on staff is viewed as a luxury for many non-profits with a small budget, it wasn't just by chance that the ones with full-fledged fatherhood programs got to the point of actually being able to hire a staff member for this role. They got there by starting with an intentional assessment of their organization, budgeting and planning for how they would involve fathers, and diligence with a focus on ensuring they involve fathers alongside everything they offer for mothers.

Father involvement is critical for your organization, and if you aren't sure whether you agree, be sure to check out the research and statistics on the consequences of father absenceGetting fathers involved is essential for happy, healthy, well-adjusted children and families.  When dads aren't involved, children are more likely to engage in drugs, alcohol, violent crimes, and other harmful behaviors, drop out of school, live in poverty, face teenage pregnancy, and struggle with depression or even commit suicide.

One of the best ways to get started in becoming a father-friendly organization is to make use of our Free Father Friendly Check-Up Tool

This simple assessment (using a likert scale) allows you to analyze your physical environment, location, organizational philosophies, staff attitudes, and more. We recommend that your leadership, as well as each staff member, fill out the Check-Up. The comparative results may surprise you! 

Many many organizations have already used the Father Friendly Check-Up to successfully asses their operations, and overhauled the way in which they intentionally provide offerings for, and equip, fathers to be the best dads they can be.

Check out several Case Studies below showing how organizations working with fathers and families - just like you - transformed their work with fathers after taking the Father Friendly Check-Up:

  • Pregnancy Care Center, Witchita, KS > Historically served mothers, with little or no outreach to fathers. Now offers several classes for fathers including NFI’s 24/7 Dad™ and Doctor Dad™.
  • The Children's Institue > Serves children with special needs and their families. Now offers NFI’s Doctor Dad™ and use Boyz to Dads™.
  • Clinical Outcomes Group > Created county-wide Fatherhood Task Force to raise awareness of the importance of fathers and began running NFI’s 24/7 Dad™ for organizations.
  • Community Action Inc. > Now provides enhanced parenting and fathering skills while helping them develop job skills. Uses several NFI curricula including The 7 Habits of a 24/7 Dad™ and Understanding Domestic Violence™ workshops.

And remember: Success comes after planning, and planning after assessing. Take this first step toward finding the best way for your organization to serve fathers in a "friendly" way. Then come back to learn How to Start a Fatherhood Initiative

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.

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