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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!

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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 Ultimate Guide to Connecting With Your Child

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.

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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 Ultimate Guide to Connecting With Your Child

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-logo
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 Ultimate Guide to Connecting With Your Child 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. 

Resources

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 info@fatherhood.org. We’ll use your experiences to update this guide so it is even more useful.

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. 

Why_an_Open_Entry_Program_is_a_Bad_Idea

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 Ultimate Guide to Connecting With Your Child

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.

Findings

  • 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.

Recommendations

  • 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 Ultimate Guide to Connecting With Your Child

 

How You and Your Fatherhood Program Can Get Found Online

In my over three years working with fatherhood leaders and programs, I know you. You're well-intentioned and care about people. You're doing great work with great heart. But, you're too busy doing this great work to talk about the great work. You don't have time, staff, or energy to get started online. So you don't...and no one is seeing your great impact. It bothers me that you aren't getting the attention you deserve. 

I don't have all of the answers. But, it seems to me, if you can get a small start with blogging and social media, you and others can quickly start to see the impact you're having on fathers and families. I'm not talking about celebrity stuff here. I want you and your program to be seen. I want folks around you to see what you're doing and I want it to inspire others to help dads. Let's talk about how you, the super busy fatherhood leader, can get started online.

Fatherhood Leader > How You Can Get Started Online > How You and Your Fatherhood Program Can Get Found Online

First, let's talk about the why. Why does "getting found" online matter? Because your work inspires other folks to serve dads. It's also nice for you to show your work to potential investors and/or the people who may attend or volunteer for your program. If you can start blogging and doing social media, you will make more impact in your community. Basically, I want folks to see your work and think of you when they think about fatherhood. You are the authority in your area when it comes to fatherhood and family.

Consider this:

  • Do dads in your community know you as the helpful authority you are? How? How can they contact you right now?

When I get word of a group doing awesome things to serve dads, I usually can't find them through Google search. This is a problem. If I can't find you, and I know about you, how will a dad who needs your help, but doesn't know about you, find you?

Consider your blog like New York City. There are several major highways running through NYC. NYC has three major airports, major bus transportation, two train stations...you get the point.

Conversely, in the small town in Tennessee where I grew up, there's one highway. My hometown is great—unless you're planning on enjoying access to transportation once you visit. There are no airports in my hometown. You can't catch a bus. There isn't a train. I've never seen a cab.

Here's the point: the highways, trains, buses and planes are the things that can bring folks to you. All of the links from other sites, all of the mentions of you and your fatherhood program on social media, that's how folks find you. All of this is what turns your blog into a thing that pulls folks in to your program. There should be lots of ways for folks to find you. The more the better!

Here are two ways you can get started online without a ton of effort and time. 

1) Get Started by Blogging

One of the best ways to get found online is through blogging. Make it so you can post updates easily and on a regular basis. Think weekly rather than daily. Your readers are busy too. But try to create and/or re-purpose content on a regular basis.

There are a few things that most folks recommend when getting started blogging: 

  1. Create your blog with an easy-to-remember name. Don't get too cute. Think long-term and and error on the side of conservative rather than on fads. 
  2. Create helpful content. Stuff that dads in your area care about. What are the dads you serve asking you. Answer those same questions on your fancy new blog.
  3. Read parenting and leadership blogs to fuel your content. 
  4. Be sure to comment on other folks' blogs.

Doing these things should get your blogging off to a great start. See, that wasn't bad was it? Now to tackle social media...

2) Get Started Using Social Media

Can people find you on social media? Do you have a Facebook page? What about other social media platforms like twitter? Consider starting an account on the popular platforms where dads in your area are. Here are a few tried and true tips when it comes to social media.

It all starts with a good profile. There are a few best practices that apply to all social media platforms. Beyond these things, what you do depends on the platform. Here we go...

What to do on most social media platforms:

  1. Pick the right username > 
    • Use your real name when possible.
    • Make your username as simple as possible. Try to stay away from numbers and symbols.
    • Pick a name that’s available on most social sites. Reminder, the goal is to build engagement so folks recognize you
  2. Pick the perfect profile image > this image will show up everywhere.
  3. Write a good bio/summary > don’t skip this step. What can you say to instill confidence with your reader? Consider the folks who you are interested in connecting with. 
  4. Website links > be sure to add your blog or link to social sites when possible

Now that you're armed with this knowledge, you can rock out any of the following social media platforms. You're ready to go, I can feel it...

Getting Started on Facebook

  1. Create a Facebook business page (Here's NFI's Facebook page). Team Dad is great on Facebook. We share their posts a lot. They post graduation pictures. We love seeing fatherhood program graduations.
  2. Post a link to your business page from your personal profile.
  3. Promote your Facebook page within your existing channels (website, blog, email, LinkedIn profile, etc)
  4. Next time you host a local event (like a conference, webinar, and/or training) use Facebook events to invite people. (Consider inviting NFI, that way we know about it!)

Getting Started on LinkedIn

  1. Build a LinkedIn group (and connect with NFI on LinkedIn).
  2. Make sure your linked profile is 100 percent complete.
  3. Search through groups to find ones focused in your area. Don't overdo it on the groups. There's a maximum number you can join. Consider future partnerships in the community at this point.

Gathering Started on Twitter

  1. Create an account (follow NFI's Twitter account).
  2. Start tweeting. Talk about what's going on behind the scenes. 
  3. Follow folks in your network using the search feature in Twitter.
  4. Monitor other fatherhood, leadership and/or parenting accounts and retweet them.

Getting Started on YouTube

  1. Create a channel. (Here's NFI's YouTube account.)
  2. Consider posting your stories: things like "what we do here" and "get to know a staffer" can be helpful
  3. Consider interviewing local people for tips on parenting and the like.
  4. Create and share how-to videos on all things fatherhood.

Question > Are you doing any of these steps online? Where can I find you and your fatherhood program? Post the links to your website/blog and social media accounts in the comments and I'll like them, follow them, and/or connect with them.

The Ultimate Guide to Connecting With Your Child

Spotlight > TOPS DAD Program in Arizona [Video]

"Any man can be a father, it takes someone special to be a dad." These words have been said for years. But a program in Arizona is living and teaching them to fathers. We're excited to see this group raise up a new generation of great dads. Check them out... 

tops dad program in Arizona fatherhood program

Tucson News Now recently ran a story about this local group who is giving men real advice about being a dad. TOPS DAD Program is all about giving dads the tools and confidence dads need to be involved in their child's life and becoming the dad they want to be. 

Watch the video below and you'll find a group of dads who understand that becoming a dad is way more than providing with a wallet—it's about being available and present. They call it "The Dad Factor". It means each and every dad has a unique and special gift they bring to raising a child. The group brings this ability out in dads by providing peer support, whether is one-on-one or with a facilitator, and with group settings.

The group knows from experience that getting together to talk with other men is vital because the men learn other ways of doing things. Dads can ask other men about parenting. What a novel idea, right? Get men in a room and get them talking about what it's like to be a dad. We couldn't be more happy about the TOPS DAD Program and what they are doing for Arizona dads. 


Here are details about the TOPS DAD program. 

Teen Outreach Pregnancy Services offers two courses for dads under the TOPS DAD Program. They help every dad from expecting fathers in their teens to fathers in their 40's. 

  • for men under 21, a free program with services that include C-P-R certification, car seat education and support groups.
  • for dads that are 21 and over, a free, onetime workshop for men only. First-time dads learn topics like parental teamwork, handling, and changing a baby and the role of a father in the family.

The group uses our 24/7 Dad® Program, our 12-week program that teaches dads everything from communication and co-parenting strategies, to tips on connecting with their child and how to discipline.

TOPS DAD Program's mission is:

At TOPS, our mission is to create healthy outcomes for children, their families, and the community. Through our TOPS DAD program, we work with fathers of all ages in Maricopa and Pima counties to be involved in their child's life and raise healthy children by instilling the Dad Factor. The Dad Factor means each and every dad has a unique and special gift that they bring to raising their child. Our program, through peer support and one-on-one facilitation, helps to bring that out so that every father can become the dad they want to be.

Learn more about TOPS DAD Program.

The Ultimate Guide to Connecting With Your Child

TEDxTalk: First Time Fathers: A Candid View of Their Experiences (Video)

Earlier this year, I was invited to a TEDxTalk, interviewed and then presented. I dedicate this talk to fathers everywhere who play equally critical roles in the lives of their children. 

Fathers are not always biological and sometimes men who father are not in the family of the child. Fathers maybe men who are mentoring a child of a single mother or an uncle, or grandfather who is there to role model what a man is to a fatherless child. I also dedicate this talk to the men who may have desired to be fathers and for whom this may not have been their privilege. May they know their dream was important! I encourage comments on the TEDxTalk and I hope you enjoy it and find it beneficial.

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Having trouble viewing this video? Click here to watch.


My own father was diagnosed with a rare form of aggressive cancer in December of 2013. A month before my TEDxTalk he died (February, 2015). My dad was not perfect. He made many mistakes. He was a military man and we grew up in the military. I spoke at his funeral and this is what I thanked him for before he died.  My father taught me to tie my shoes and I learned competence, my father taught me to ride a bike and I learned skill mastery, my father taught me how to play baseball (not softball) and I learned girls were important too! May he rest in peace.

As a Family Life Mentoring Coach, a certified international infant massage instructor, and a researcher, I have been blessed with the opportunity to work with men over the years, who have shared candidly with me about their experiences fathering and their relationships with the woman in their life. It has broadened my perspective and has been a privilege to be trusted with their stories, I am deeply grateful.

About the TEDxTalk

What this TEDxTalk is about is the research I conducted at Florida State University with first time fathers. I will give a brief overview, as the many benefits that fathers and their perceptions of the benefits to their babies, were discussed in detail in a prior post.

Just a short recap: I taught fathers infant massage and then gathered data through video recordings, interviews, and diaries fathers kept while massaging their infants throughout the study. What I learned while writing up the research and from fathers outside of the research who spoke with me about the topic was as valuable as the actual research.

 

Behind the TEDxTalk

What was not in the TEDXTalk that you can view here—I believe is as important—is what I learned writing up the research. In the historical development of attachment theory and bonding (prior 90+ years) only mothers and their infants were included in the studies.

Indeed even the preliminary studies of the 1920's Hammett and the mommy and baby rats, 1930's Harlow and the baby monkeys, 1940's - 1950's Ainsworth and Bowlby human mothers and babies all centered on studying the relationship between the mothers and the babies.

What was in this research was just as important as what was not in the research, as while the research assisted us in understanding how important this first relationship was to babies, it also was responsible for a backlash to mothers. Everything that went wrong in a child's behavior and development was construed by society to be the direct result of "bad mothering."

I am not proposing that there are not less than optimal mothers; however, optimal mothers who were raising children without fathers in the pictures were not granted the benefit of consideration of how hard it was to raise a child without the father in the home. Nor were fathers credited for their equal contribution to the positive outcomes in their children. It was a discredit to mothers, fathers, and most importantly to children. 

The first attempt at a longitudinal study of fathers in the late 90's resulted in the conclusion that fathers did not bond and attach, as did mothers. In reviewing this particular research I discovered that the tool developed by Ainsworth in the middle of the last century to classify babies' attachment behaviors towards their mothers, was the tool was used in this longitudinal study.

Additionally it was used to classify behaviors of older children after spending what would be a considerably short period of time with the fathers. To be perfectly clear, it was inappropriately used in the study considering the original design and development and negates the conclusions of that study.

We need to gather this information from fathers who are involved from the beginning of the pregnancy (babies hear their fathers voices in utero) and at the time of the birth when they have had bonding experiences with their babies (fathers also experience increased levels of oxytocin when they care for the baby) and throughout the development of the child before we make assumptions about bonding and attachment between babies and fathers. As a side note, infant massage provides for an intense bonding experience (chemistry) between the baby and a caregiver as it engages 4 of the 5 senses which are how bonding occurs. 

Since the TEDxTalk

Recent studies at the University of Notre Dame indicate that fathers who sleep near their babies have drops in their testosterone levels and make assertions that this may mean fathers are more responsive to their babies indicating that mothers are not the only parent who can respond to the babies needs. Prior care giving studies indicated that fathers' levels of oxytocin increases the more time they spend in childcare activities such as bathing, changing, feeding and playing with their babies.

In conclusion

As a society when we treat men like they are outsiders and those babies are exclusively the mothers' domain, then, we do children and fathers a disservice. Considering how they were deprived of fathering play as children (dolls were off limits) and deprived of dual custody, based upon gender rather than merit, it most certainly has been the child that suffered.

Fathers who participate in child care classes spend more quality time with their babies and report feeling confident and competent in their role as a father. Both competency and confidence are scientific indicators of long term involvement in the lives of their children. After publishing articles on this research, I wrote the first of many books to come and published it on Amazon, "Hassle Free Bedtime," that includes information from my research and the research of others to support fathers in their journey of acquiring new skills.

Caution on "our parental rights."

Children have a need to be protected from exposure to violence. Neither gender has a right to expose a child to neglect or violence or sexual exploitation as children require a higher standard of responsibility because they are developing and vulnerable. Any parent who claims a right to raise a child or be in the life of the child and who has exposed a child to violence or sexual exploitation has a responsibility to seek treatment before expecting access to their child. 
  The Ultimate Guide to Connecting With Your Child

Be One of the First Partners in NFI’s Brand New Partner Program

The value you deserve from an NFI partnership is finally here.

You might be thinking, “Wait a minute. Doesn’t NFI already have partners? Doesn’t NFI partner with thousands of programs, organizations, and initiatives across the nation?” In a way, yes, thousands of them use NFI’s fatherhood resources and programs to engage and give dads the knowledge and skills they need.

But here’s the rub. Partnering means different things to different people. Many programs, organizations, and initiatives have expressed a desire through the years for a deeper, more intimate, more valuable relationship with NFI. We heard them, but didn’t have the pieces in place to provide the kind of value they deserved.

Now we have the pieces in place to offer that value.

Read on to learn how you can get in on the ground floor.

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What’s it All About? 

The new NFI Partner Program is ideal for two types/groups:

a)    Fatherhood and family strengthening programs and organizations

b)   Fatherhood and family strengthening initiatives that operate at a city or county level

The NFI Partner Program is a program unlike anything we’ve offered, and works to deepen the connection between NFI and programs, organizations, and initiatives committed to increasing the involvement of fathers in the lives of their children. There will be two types of partners:

  • Premier Partners: New and existing fatherhood and family strengthening initiatives who operate at a city or county level. These initiatives are typically multi-sector in nature, and have organizations as participants in the initiative that provide programs and services to fathers. These initiatives can be managed/led by an individual organization (e.g. housed within an organization that acts as a “lead agency”), but they must be a distinct entity that involves other organizations and individuals in the city or county.
  • Partners: Individual organizations, or fatherhood and family strengthening programs within organizations, which are not necessarily part of larger fatherhood or family strengthening initiatives (although they can be) that provide programs and services to fathers. Organizations that do not have a distinct fatherhood or family-strengthening program may provide programs and services to fathers as part of another program that benefits fathers in some capacity (e.g. workforce development, child welfare, etc.).

Click here for more information on eligibility.

Why is becoming an NFI Partner Valuable?

The NFI Partner Program helps address the following pain points (challenges) faced by programs/organizations and initiatives:

  • Securing initial and ongoing funding
  • Engaging the community
  • Proving return on investment (ROI)
  • Aligning with a national organization to take their program to the next level

For programs/organizations, it also provides training on addressing the 5 main pain points faced by organizations and programs in serving fathers. And for initiatives, it also helps ensure ongoing commitment of initiative partners.

Click here to learn more about the value of becoming an NFI Partner or Premier Partner.

How Does it Deliver Value?

The NFI Partner Program offers a benefits package that helps initiate and sustains father-focused efforts of programs, organizations, and initiatives, by leveraging a combination of unique partnerships NFI has developed with companies. Partners of NFI will also benefit from NFI’s overall and individual brands and other assets.

How Many Partners Does NFI Seek?

To begin, we’re seeking 10 Partners (organizations or programs within organizations) and 5 Premier Partners who will be designated Charter Partners and Charter Premier Partners.

Partners in this initial group will be the only partners ever to receive the “Charter” designation. We won’t open the program to other potential partners until some time next year.

Why Such a Small Group?

We’re committed to starting this program off on the right foot. We won’t bite off more than we can chew. We also want to begin by partnering with a select group who are completely committed to making a difference in the lives of children, fathers, and families.

Becoming an NFI Partner isn’t for any program, organization, or initiative. It’s for those that are truly committed to the cause of addressing father absence.

What’s the Next Step?

Apply to become a Charter Partner. Download the Request for Partnership (RFP) for the type of partner you’d like to become. (An entity can qualify for both types of partners if it meets the eligibility requirements of each type.)

Learn more about the Partner Program benefits here, or head over here to download the RFP's.

Spotlight > The Ohio Commission on Fatherhood [Video]

Several groups in Ohio are doing amazing work to connect fathers and families, and we think you should know about them. The following post and video describe the exciting, state-wide work being done by the Ohio Commission on Fatherhood.

Keep reading to be inspired by Ohio. You could do something similar for fathers (and children) in your state or county.

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The Ohio Commission on Fatherhood is a state-wide commission housed within the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services. Their mission is to enhance the well-being of Ohio's children by providing opportunities for fathers to become better parents, partners and providers.

As the lead agency for the Commission, they offer training and guidance to help county organizations design programs to engage fathers and promote responsible parenting. This gives organizations across the state a solid support system for intentionally offering programs and services for fathers.

In fact, the groups you see on this video came together because Ohio brought in NFI to conduct our Community Engagement and Mobilization Planning Approach, helping to rally Ohio state organizations around fatherhood in a cohesive way. In the video you'll see NFI's very own Erik Vecere facilitating the planning sessions.

View the full video here.

What is the goal of the Ohio County Fatherhood Initiative? 

"We believe we can raise the level of father involvement, creating opportunities to train fathers so they can be engage in employment." —Burl Lemon, Executive Director “Forever Dad” Muskingum County

“One of the biggest things is community mapping and being able to get some insight in terms of how our county is laid out, what the initiatives that already exist in our county are, so that we are not reinventing the wheel, and actually be able to map out where the different agencies are, community partners, and who our key stakeholders are in our county to be able to launch this initiative." —Ann Ream, Director of Protective Services, Summit County Children Services

Why participate in the Ohio County Fatherhood Initiative?

“Weve allowed fathers to take a back seat and I think what this will do will heighten the awareness of the tremendous value that a father plays in a child's life. And because of that, our communities are betterour countrys better." —Kelly Lynch, Executive Director, Guernsey County Children’s Service

"On a bigger level, its been able to connect me as a stakeholder with childrens services, with our county leadership, and to know that this is an initiative that is important on both the local and state and federal level and what a concern it is a problem I think we all own…but the solution we can all own as well.” —Ann Ream, Director of Protective Services, Summit County Children Services

“When you help a dad, youre really helping out the whole family. Its not just a moms versus dads thing. If you help the dad get his act together, then he can be a better father and then also be a little bit more cooperative with the mother, so it helps everybody. —Michael Newsom, Social Program Coordinator, Montgomery County

Would you recommend other counties to participate? 

“I would recommend this training to others. Its unfortunate that everybody cant be a part of this. So Im very fortunate to be a part of todays session here. I think its important to know how to mobilize one another in your community and at a state level too." —Ann Ream, Director of Protective Services, Summit County Children Services

I think it would be a good program for business leaders. I think it would be a good program for civic leaders and government officials. I think it would be an excellent for service providers and a cross-spectrum of people who are working with families.” —James McDonald, Director of Muskingum Counseling Center

Interested in mobilizing your community? Visit here for more information on bringing responsible fatherhood training to life in your community. Read more about how we work with state/county initiatives here

Tell us > What would you like to see your county or state do for fathers?

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How Mass Media Portray Dads & What You Can Do About It

It's easy to complain about the negative fatherhood stereotypes that mass media often portrays. But, rarely do I see the depth of information and application of research into practical tips for leaders than what can be found in the following article from NFI's president, Christopher A. Brown.

Brown recently wrote a fasinating article titled, "Americans' View of Fathers' Competency as Parents Through a Mass Media Lens" at the request of Zero to Three Journal. Chris has over a decade of experience working with fathers at NFI, and in this article you can see his gift of applying science and research to explain culture and help individuals and organizations encourage more involved fathers. Let's talk about it...

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Brown's article was written to raises awareness among professionals in the field of infant mental health. But, you will no doubt see this information can be used by a much wider audience. Brown points out from the research that TV is still one of the major forms of mass media shaping our values and perceptions, from sitcoms to advertising and commercials.

He reveals some telling stats on America's use of TV, particularly: 

  • Nearly every home (97%) has at least one TV
  • The average home contains nearly 3 TVs.
  • Americans watch TV 3-5 hours a day.
  • Adults watch nearly 38% more TV than children.

The Fatherhood Image in TV and Advertising
From Jim Anderson in Father Knows Best to Al Bundy in Married...With Children and Jay Pritchett of Modern Family, TV dads are usually portrayed as foolish, no matter what race or socioeconomic status is depicted.

The portrayal of fathers in commercials and advertising play a huge role in how we see fathers. Studies show commercials rarely portray men as nurturers. Brown points out one study found "when fathers were included in commercials, none of them were portrayed as nurturers whereas half of mothers were portrayed as nurturers (Gentry & Harrison, 2010)." 

Brown says that fathers are still often portrayed by consumer brands as one extreme or the other. On the one side fathers are shown as incompetent, foolish, and emotionally disconnected as parents. "The double standard involves competent, wise, emotionally connected mothers who must often rescue those fathers," says Brown. He cites Lowe's and LG for his research

But thankfully, there's the other extreme. Brands who show dads as competent, nurturing, and emotionally healthy parents. Brown cites General Mills Canada and Toyota as two such brands. General Mills' #HowToDad and Toyota's 2015 Super Bowl campaign "One Bold Choice Leads to Another" campaign promoted positive fatherhood images. The General Mills and Toyota campaigns show the reality of parenting today. As Chris points out: 

"The influence of parents as partners in raising children is all aspects of domestic life has continued to grow. Fathers have taken on a steadily increasing share of the parenting load in recent decades (USA Today, 2013). Fathers spend more time than ever with their children generally, grocery and retail shopping for the family, and doing housework (e.g., cooking and cleaning). Fathers are also more focused than ever on the desire to balance work and family. Indeed, they're often more conflicted than mothers in this regard (Aumann, Galinsky, & Matos, 2011)."

Why is Fathers' Portrayal Important?
Research is clear that a child needs the presence and involvement of his/her father. We know that kids who grow up with involved fathers are better off across all physical, emotional, mental, and social outcomes than a child who grows up without his/her father. So, we can deduct that fathers' involvement is as least as important as mothers' involvement to the healthy development of the child. 

Sadly, parents and professionals are often not aware of this evidence, and so their views aren't informed and shaped by this education. If mass media is getting fatherhood wrong, what about parents and professionals who've had negative experiences with their fathers/husbands/partners of their own children?

This kind of negative slide is what Chris says can lead to the "ultimate detriment of children and families." He says:

"When professionals hold a negative view of fathers, they are reluctant to engage fathers and may unwittingly support negative maternal views of fathers by not encouraging the mothers to involve fathers. Professionals also reinforce fathers' negative view of themselves by not proactively engaging fathers to show them they can be good parents."

What You Can Do?
Brown writes more in depth in his article about how we view fathers and how that view effects us. But he doesn't stop there. He closes his article with helpful ideas of what professionals (like you!) can do to counteract the negative portrayals of fathers.

Remember, this is all about the well-being of children. So, the message that dad can be competent and involved only helps the cause -- it does not hurt. If you are a professional (educator or not) you have a special role in shaping the view of fathers' competency. 

From TV portrayals, to mass media advertising, and even digital and social media, seeking to counteract whatever bad or negative portrayals you've seen from dads in your life is important—for you and for those around you.

The following list will prove helpful in seeking to view fatherhood as you should—as important and vital to children. The following tips can be found in more detail in the full article here:

  • Identify whether parents have a positive or negative view of fathers' competency and potential competency. Brown suggests asking non-threatening, open-ended questions to identify the parent's view of the father and fathers in general.
  • Identify whether the TV shows and advertising parents watch support or don't support a positive view of fathers' competency. Ask parents about the ways in which fathers are portrayed in the TV shows and advertising parents watch. Ask whether those portrayals are realistic and how they support or don't support parents' view of fathers competency.
  • Encourage parents to watch TV shows that portray fathers as competent, nurturing parents. Make a list of TV shows to watch. Identify shows that portray fathers as competent and nurturing. It's fine if the father struggles in his role as long as he is competent and nurturing. You can also look for shows that include a healthy relationship between the father and mother, even if the parents aren't together. 
  • Encourage parents to pay attention to the TV shows their children watch and how those shows portray fathers. Children's shows can contain negative portrayals of fathers. These shows shape children's views of fathers in general. They can also reinforce a negative view a child might have of his own father, especially if the child's mother talks negatively about the father to or in front of the child. Encourage parents to talk with their children about the portrayals of fathers in the shows their children watch. Tell parents to expose their children to shows with positive portrayals and even to watch those shows together. 
  • Engage fathers right from the start. There are a number of ways professionals can engage fathers from their very first encounter with clients. Simple acts like including information on program intake forms that capture the father's information and more involved acts like requiring the father's presence (when feasible) at initial and subsequent parent engagements (e.g., home visits) send an important message—the father is important and valuable.
  • Provide parents with access to information, such as literature (e.g., brochures and guides) and websites, which discuss the importance of father involvement in children's lives or provide advice on how fathers can become more involved generally and in specific areas of children's lives (e.g., education and sports). Professionals should ensure that the sources of information are appropriate for a parent's literacy level and informed by research.
  • Conduct programs or workshops for fathers on father involvement or refer fathers to organizations that provide such programs or workshops. Increasing father involvement doesn't happen overnight. Some fathers need training on how to be a better father. There are fathering programs that last several months and workshops that last a day to a few days. Ensure that the programs and workshops are based on or informed by evidence on what works to increase father involvement. 
  • Provide literature or conduct programs or workshops for mothers on improving the relationships they have with the fathers of their children. Maternal gatekeeping is when a mother can inhibit a father's access to his child. A mother can do so consciously or unconsciously whether she and the father are married, cohabitating, or never married. There are resources, programs, and workshops that seek to address maternal gatekeeping by raising mothers' awareness of this phenomenon and encouraging mothers to loosen unnecessary restrictions on fathers' access to their children.
  • Assess the "father readiness" of professionals' organizations and implement strategies and tactics to increase father readiness. Professionals rarely practice in a vacuum. They are usually part of an organization that is dedicated to or has a focus on infant mental health (or another specific area) and work with parents. The culture and practices of an organization influence the professional's work with parents. An organization that believes, for example, in the value of fathers will encourage a professional to engage fathers and, hopefully, provide resources (e.g., funds and training) to help the professional with that task. An organization that doesn't value fathers will erect barriers to a professional's attempts to engage fathers. Tools exists that help professionals—indeed, entire organizations—assess an organization's willingness and readiness to engage fathers and create no-cost and low-cost strategies and tactics to increase father readiness (see NFI's Father Friendly Checkup). 

The culture and mass media messages we see daily create a challenging atmosphere in which to engage fathers and create a culture where father involvement is important. Digital and social media increase this challenge. Whether you are combating negative portrayals of fatherhood in media, in your place of work, or in your own family, you can be a positive impact on a child. You can send a powerful message about the importance of fathers to the well-being of children in your life. Whether you've seen a great dad or not—you no doubt understand that creating more dads who are involved is a vital mission.

Please read our president, Christopher A. Brown's, full article by downloading the PDF here. It's only available for only a limited time.

The Ultimate Guide to Connecting With Your Child

How to Effectively Engage Fathers: The 5th Competency

Funding. Funding. Funding. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about recruitment and retention as being the bane of practitioners’ existence. That’s only half the story. The other half of practitioners’ bane, if you will, is funding fatherhood programs.

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This post is the fifth and final in a weekly series in which I highlight the five core competencies you need to effectively engage fathers, and how you can develop each competency with NFI’s Father Engagement CertificateTM (FEC), an affordable on demand training that will help you develop those competencies.

Click here to read the post on the 1st competency: How to Create a Father-Friendly Organization

Click here to read the post on the 2nd competency: How to Design a Best Practice Fatherhood Program

Click here to read the post on the 3rd competency: How to Think Like a Marketer

Click here to read last week’s post on the 4th competency: How to Involve Moms 

Fundraising

The key to raising funds to start and maintain a fatherhood program is identifying diverse funding sources and securing funds from those sources that, when combined, provide multiple funding streams. All too often practitioners and organizations rely on one or two funding sources, which places the program at risk when those sources dry up as most eventually do. And all too often they’re involved in “crisis fundraising” that is reactive rather than proactive.

The fifth competency in effectively engaging fathers centers around the development of a well thought out, comprehensive Fund Development Plan for your fatherhood program that involves:

  • Identifying and securing of funds for the program.
  • How to position the fatherhood program within a larger context (i.e. related issue such as child abuse prevention).

Such a plan: 

  • Focuses on activities/tactics for raising funds.
  • Answers:
    • How you will identify funding sources?
    • How you will secure funds from sources?
    • Who will help identify and secure funds?
  • Limits crisis fundraising by:
    • Identifying opportunities to meet current program needs.
    • Identifying opportunities to meet future program needs.

To create an effective plan, you need to learn how to research, select, and engage (initially and ongoing) individual donors and other funding sources (e.g. family foundations). 

FEC Session 5: How to Develop a Funding Plan for a Fatherhood Program

This session helps you think through how you will fund your fatherhood program, and covers 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, sustainable fatherhood program.

Click Here to Start Your Father Engagement Training

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Don’t delay. Click here to start the process of earning your Father Engagement Certificate

Do you have a funding plan for your fatherhood program?

Does your plan include current needs and anticipate future needs?

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The Ultimate Guide to Connecting With Your Child

How to Stretch Your Dollars for Children [Infographic]

NFI stretches your dollars through our capacity-building approach.

Every child deserves a 24/7 Dad. From free fatherhood resources to fatherhood products, programs and trainings, your donation supports our mission.

In fact, our free fatherhood resources now out number the products and resources we sell in our store. Today, we have 105 free resources that can be downloaded, read, watched, and reviewed. For instance, our free resource The Ultimate Guide to Connecting with Your Child has been downloaded almost 5,000 times! That's 5,000 fathers that are now armed with questions they can ask their child to generate meaningful conversations.

Just as we exist to create more involved dads, we serve fatherhood programs and organizations. Your donation also helps us create free resources for fatherhood leaders and organizations. Basically, you can think of us as a Cisco Systems or IBM of the family-strengthening arena. Just like IBM helps other businesses and governments build their technology infrastructures, we help other organizations and governments build their family-strengthening infrastructures.

Let's look at the problem of father absence, what NFI does to remedy this problem, and just how much your support truly matters...

How to Stretch Your Dollars for Children [Infographic] donate to fatherhood.org

The Root

How to Stretch Your Dollars for Children [Infographic] donate to fatherhood.org

One out of three American children live without their dad. That’s 24 million children, enough to populate New York City three times! These children are in every community, including your own. You can help these children by ensuring your dollars have maximum impact on child well-being.

How to Stretch Your Dollars for Children [Infographic] donate to fatherhood.org new york city nyc

NFI Connects Fathers and Children

How to Stretch Your Dollars for Children [Infographic] donate to fatherhood.org

  • We are the go-to source for thousands of organizations to obtain effective fatherhood training, programs, and other resources.
  • We are a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization relying on contributions from individuals and foundations to improve child well-being and prevent father absence.
  • NFI builds the capacities of those organizations to offer programs and services for dads, moms, and families.

NFI's Partners Include:

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Military > 
All branches of the U.S. Military, National Guard, and Reserve Units

 

corrections prison jail How to Stretch Your Dollars for Children [Infographic] donate to fatherhood.orgCorrections > State, county, and private prisons/jails; Federal Bureau of Prisons; and state, county, and local reentry programs.

 

8-agency-icon How to Stretch Your Dollars for Children [Infographic] donate to fatherhood.org state local county government agency

State and Local/County Agencies > Health and Human Services; maternal and child health and welfare programs; and child abuse prevention organizations.

 

9-community-based-icon How to Stretch Your Dollars for Children [Infographic] donate to fatherhood.orgCommunity-Based Organizations > Community action agencies; head start and healthy start programs; grassroots fatherhood and family service organizations; and schools.

We track our success and impact through: U.S. Census data; program and project evaluations; number of resources distributed and organizations trained; and case studies, stories of impact and testimonials.

NFI’s Impact:

More than 7 Million NFI RESOURCES have been distributed to dads and momsNFI programs are used in all 50 states, Washington D.C, and U.S. Territories. 

NFI has trained more than…

  • 6,300 Organizations In-Person
  • 14,100 Staff In-Person
  • 15,000 Staff Online
10-NFI-impact-7-million How to Stretch Your Dollars for Children [Infographic] donate to fatherhood.org

 

A child raised with a dad is:

  • 4X less likely to live in poverty
  • 2X more likely to graduate high school
  • 7X less likely to become or get someone pregnant as a teen
  • 2X less likely to have emotional or behavioral problems
  • 7X less likely to be incarcerated as an adult
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The Ultimate Guide to Connecting With Your Child

How to Effectively Engage Fathers: The 4th Competency

Mom and dad don’t get along. Maybe they hate each other. Perhaps there is, unfortunately, a history of abuse in the relationship. Mom might not even realize that she restricts dad’s access to his children. Do any of these descriptions ring true in your work with fathers, mothers, families?

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This post is the fourth in a weekly series in which I highlight the five core competencies you need to effectively engage fathers, and how you can develop each competency with NFI’s Father Engagement CertificateTM (FEC), an affordable on demand training that will help you develop those competencies.

Click here to read the post on the 1st competency: How to Create a Father-Friendly Organization

Click here to read the post on the 2nd competency: How to Design a Best Practice Fatherhood Program

Click here to read last week’s post on the 3rd competency: How to Think Like a Marketer 

Involving Moms in Promoting Father Involvement

Our country has a remarkable structure that addresses the health and well-being of women, mothers, and children. While there are certainly issues with that structure and areas for improvement, there’s no debate about the lack of a structure that addresses the well-being of men and fathers. 

Unfortunately, fathers are most often the parent left out of the parenting equation when organizations implement parenting and family-strengthening programs. To be fair, fathers are often reluctant to avail themselves of these programs; nevertheless, organizations typically don’t make a concerted effort to reach them. Consequently, “parent” is a code word for “mom” from many fathers’ perspective. Organizations fail to speak directly to the needs and wants of fathers.

Fatherhood programs can’t make the same mistake—that is, leave moms out of the equation when it comes to implementing a fatherhood program. But wait, you might say: What do moms have to do with implementing a fatherhood program? A lot. 

Mothers are often the gatekeepers when it comes to fathers’ access to their children. Mothers can facilitate or hinder fathers’ involvement, particularly when fathers are non-residential or non-custodial. Even when mothers and fathers are romantically involved and living in the same home, mothers can unconsciously and unnecessarily restrict fathers’ access to their children.

That’s why it’s vital that you learn how to go the extra mile and build the fourth competency in effectively engaging fathers in Session 4 of the Father Engagement Certificate training: How to Work with Moms to Encourage Father Involvement.

This session covers the “why” and “how” to involving moms in encouraging father involvement. Learn about the “Five Aspects of Family Life” associated with father involvement, and how to use “intensity levels” to assess how you should approach involving moms. Also learn why training female staff to more effectively engage fathers is so important, and about a free resource from NFI that will help you train female staff to more effectively engage fathers.

Click Here to Start Your Father Engagement Training

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Don’t delay. Click here to start the process of earning your Father Engagement Certificate

How much do you know about the impact of mothers in ability of the fathers you serve to be as involved as possible in the lives of their children?

Do you know the typical behaviors associated with “restrictive gatekeeping?”

 

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The Ultimate Guide to Connecting With Your Child

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