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The Father Factor

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InsideOut Dad® Designation on National Registry of Evidence-based Programs & Practices

We're excited to announce NFI's InsideOut Dad® is now included in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP).

NREPP SAMHSA Logo

This designation lends further credibility to the curriculum, the only evidence-based program designed specifically for incarcerated fathers.

According to Christopher Brown, president of NFI, “InsideOut Dad’s inclusion on the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices is yet another powerful testimony to the effectiveness of this program in changing the lives of incarcerated fathers and their children. This listing further confirms the evidence, both statistically and from the stories we’ve gathered over the years, that InsideOut Dad® has the power to transform lives and connect fathers, heart to heart, with their kids.”

InsideOut Dad® was found to be evidence-based in 2011 as a result of an evaluation conducted by Rutgers University-Newark’s School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA), qualifying it as the first evidence-based program designed specifically for working with inmate fathers.

Specifically, SPAA’s study compared the effects of the InsideOut Dad® program on more than 300 incarcerated fathers who participated in the program (intervention group) to incarcerated fathers who did not participate in it (control group). Through the quantitative data collected, the researchers found statistically significant changes across confidence, knowledge, behavior, and attitude variables in the intervention group compared to the control group.

The researchers also conducted interviews with program facilitators. This qualitative data indicated that several of the practical issues that emerged in previous evaluations of other parenting programs for incarcerated parents did not become a problem, such as staff turnover, poor coordination, interruptions during class, a lack of respect, and comprehension difficulties.

Based on the above findings of SPAA’s rigorous study, InsideOut Dad® then met NREPP's minimum requirements for review and has been independently assessed and rated for Quality of Research and Readiness for Dissemination, resulting in its listing on the registry.

InsideOut Dad’s listing on the registry is an important iteration in a growing body of research that suggests that a key to reducing recidivism is ensuring that inmates have strong family connections.

InsideOut Dad in Richmond JailInsideOut Dad® is currently being used in over 400 correctional facilities across the country and has been named a standardized program by 26 state departments of corrections. It is also used by many community-based organizations as a re-entry or transitional program to help reintegrate ex-offenders back into their communities, often used in conjunction with NFI’s 24/7 Dad® program, job training programs, and other helpful interventions (e.g. substance abuse treatment).

InsideOut Dad’s NREPP entry can be viewed here.

Prisons, jails, facilitators, and others can learn more about using InsideOut Dad® here

Photo credit: Daniel Sangjib Min/Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2013.

Implementing Evidence-Based Programs: The Devil in the Details

This is a guest blog post from Christopher Brown, Executive Vice President, National Fatherhood Initiative. 

evidenceThe federal government, many state governments, and many private funders continue to place an emphasis on funding evidence-based programs. Indeed, many funders now require the use of evidence-based programs for receipt of funds.

What is lost on many funders is how difficult it is to implement evidence-based programs with fidelity (i.e. as designed). The primary reasons are:

  • How difficult (and often impossible) it is to replicate the controlled environments in which evaluations are conducted.
  • Lack of access to the resources (e.g. funding and staffing) in which programs are rigorously evaluated.
  • The desire to implement evidence-based programs with populations or in settings that are different from the populations or settings in which programs are evaluated.

These reasons are compounded by one of the unintended consequences of the emphasis on funding only evidence-based programs—it sends the message that evidence-based programs are the only kinds of programs worthy of funding and implementation. Consequently, an organization might not be willing to use a program that could work well with the population it serves and in its setting simply because it hasn’t undergone a rigorous evaluation. 

Fortunately, there is a growing awareness among some funders of the difficulty in implementing evidence-based programs with fidelity and that there are other programs worthy of implementation that haven’t undergone rigorous evaluations. (These latter programs are typically called “promising programs”.) Some funders now allow grantees to modify the content and delivery of evidence-based programs, within certain limits, and the populations that participate in the programs that they fund. Other funders allow the organizations they fund to implement promising programs that have been shown to be effective based on less rigorous evaluations and programs with content that is informed by evidence. (These latter programs are typically called “evidence-informed programs”.)

This flexibility is wise because an organization that wishes to use an evidence-based program might lack the resources, staff, and organizational culture to implement that program with fidelity. That organization might serve a population and operate in a community that are quite different from those in which the program was evaluated, and it might be better served using a promising or evidence-informed program.

How do NFI’s programs and workshops address these difficulties? NFI provides Facilitator’s Manuals with all of our programs and workshops (and training institutes on our programs) that guide organizations on how to implement them with fidelity. When implementing with fidelity isn’t an option, the modular structure of our programs and workshops provides the flexibility to customize them based on organizations’ resources, cultures, populations served, and community-based settings.

Based on feedback from the organizations that use our programs and workshops, we know that most of them don’t implement our fatherhood programs and workshops exactly as they’re designed. These organizations value the ability to create customized programs by combining portions of our programs and workshops (and often adding our other resources) that best meet their needs and the needs of the fathers and families they serve. 

In closing, please don’t hesitate to contact our Program Support staff at programsupport@fatherhood.org or 240-912-1270. They can help you to create a customized solution for your organization that draws from our more than 100 resources, several of which are either evidence-based, evidence-informed, or promising programs.

For more information on all of our programs, workshops, and other fatherhood resources, visit www.fathersource.org

Eli Williams, Director of Fatherhood, Talks Fatherhood Kiosks

The following incorporates a guest post by Eli Williams, Director of Fatherhood, Fatherhood Clark County, OH and Urban Light Ministries. If you would like to guest blog for us, email here.

At NFI, we often receive inquiries from organizations asking some of the following questions:

question mark  How can we increase our exposure in the community?

 

question mark How do we get our information and services into the public?

 

question mark How can we make our resources easily accessible?

 

Eli Williams, Director of Fatherhood, Fatherhood Clark County, OH and Urban Light Ministries is using NFI's Fatherhood Kiosks in creative ways, so we asked him to share how he is using them in his community:

Fatherhood Resource Center™

"To be effective, a local fatherhood initiative needs to get information about the resources available to fathers into the hands of those dads.

Here in Clark County, Ohio, new Fatherhood Resource Kiosks have been strategically placed around the community to do just that. We have stocked the kiosks with informative tip cards and brochures from National Fatherhood Initiative including: Ten Ways to Be a Better Dad, Ten Tips for New Dads, and Ten Tips to Help Your Child in School. The kiosks and full-color materials are expertly designed and make an excellent first impression.

They also allow us to easily provide information to fathers in the rest of the community. In those kiosks, we’ve also included tip cards and brochures featuring the fatherhood programs and services offered by Urban Light. The five free-standing Fatherhood Resource Kiosks were strategically placed throughout our county at WorkPlus one-stop job center, the county Child Support agency, Children Service agency, Rocking Horse Community Health Center, and Springfield High School. After an undetermined period of time, some of the kiosks may be moved to other locations to increase exposure and access.

Fatherhood Resource Center™

We continue to use the older style tabletop fatherhood kiosk from NFI, as it's being kept on display at Urban Light Fatherhood Resource Center in Springfield, OH. We are planning to also use this as a traveling unit for conferences, community events, and etc.

Fatherhood Clark County is grateful that NFI had the foresight to create these important tools for promoting responsible fatherhood, and healthy fathering practices."

Fatherhood Clark County oversees the county’s Action Plan to Promote Responsible Fatherhood, local Fatherhood Summits, and the annual celebration of fatherhood each Fathers Day weekend.

We hope that hearing from Eli gives your organization some ideas on how to make the most out of your Fatherhood Resource Kiosks™; they are an excellent way to engage the community and expand your efforts.

Learn more about the Kiosks by downloading the information sheet below!

3 Popular Questions When Working With Fathers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How To Start A Fatherhood Initiative

This is a guest blog written by NFI Sr. Program Support Consultant, Ave Mulhern. If you would like to blog for us, please send an email.

runner at start line

In my role at NFI as a Senior Program Support Consultant, I talk to people from across the U.S. regarding the topic of fatherhood. Sometimes it is a dad looking for ways to connect with his child, and many times it's an organization looking for our great resources or trainings; in general, I speak to impassioned people who simply see the need to engage fathers in their community, and specifically, to educate the community on the impact father absence is having.

And very often, no matter what their role or background, they just don’t know how or where to start a Fatherhood Initiative.

To begin, I point them to the father absence Statistics section on our website www.fatherhood.org.  There, they can sharpen their understanding of the impact of father absence on common societal issues and concerns such as Poverty, Education, Emotional/Behavioral Problems, Teen Pregnancy, Childhood Obesity, and more. This helps individuals and organizations "make the case" for a fatherhood inititive, whether it be to a boss, a community organization, or even a town Mayor.

Many are astounded to see that this kind of data shows a direct connection between father absence and the issues communities and children face each and every day.

For example, the Father Factor in Maternal & Child Health area shows: Babies with a father’s name on the birth certificate are 4 times more likely to live past 1 year of age.  Source: Alio, A.P., Mbah, A.K., Kornosky, J.L., Marty, P.J. & Salihu, H.M. "The Impact of Paternal Involvement on Feto-Infant Morbidity among Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics". Matern Child Health J. 2010; 14(5): 735-41.

And the Father Factor in Teen Pregnancy shows: Adolescent girls who reported higher levels of relationship quality with their fathers were less likely to have sex before age 16, compared with adolescent girls who reported lower levels of father-daughter relationship quality. Source: Ikramullah, E., Manlove, J., Cui, C., & Moore, K. A. (2009). Parents matter: The role of parents in teens’ decisions about sex. Washington, D.C.: Child Trends.

Then, for those looking to provide specific research on both the cost of father absence and the benefits of father involvement, I recommend Father Facts 6, a comprehensive survey of the last 5 years of Census Bureau data and social science research. This collection of data gives a clear picture of the causes and consequences of father absence, and provides the reader with the data needed to make the case for father involvement!  

NFI also has a great tool for those who want to start working with fathers in their community but are not sure how… A Guide to Strengthening Fatherhood in Your Community™ provides helpful and practical information on how to start your own organization, start serving fathers from an existing organization, offer fatherhood programming in your community, raise funds, and mobilize your community around the issue of father absence. This is the most comprehensive resource available for those interested in promoting father involvement locally.

And from here, some next steps: 

Preparing Teens for Fatherhood with Boyz2Dads

The following is a guest post by Shawn O'Keefe, Youth Programs Specialist for Newport News Department of Human Services. If you would like to guest blog for us, email here.

As a Youth Program Specialist, it is my job to provide prevention, education, leadership, and youth development programming and opportunities to young people in the middle and high school age range.boyz2dads blog pic

One of the curricula I researched was the Boyz2Dads™ program, which I have been using now for the last three years. I like the Boyz2Dads™ program for many reasons:

  • It has a pregnancy prevention component focused on young boys instead of girls
  • It is computer based
  • It allows for discussion about the roles/responsibilities of fathers, as well as the characteristics that make good fathers

I have had the opportunity to implement the program several different ways and in various venues. I have facilitated the program in a high school, at a Boys and Girls Club, a middle school summer enrichment program, and inside the city’s Juvenile Detention Facility. Through trial and error, I have found that the best practices for the most effective implementation of Boyz2Dads is for the group to be limited to no more than 10-15 participants; individual access to a computer; headphones for each participant; and scheduling the program in six 45 minute to one hour sessions once per week.

Interestingly, I have had the most success with the young men in the city’s Juvenile Detention Facility, which was really a big surprise. I thought of any of the young men I was working with that this group would think the program was “whack” or “corny” or just a waste of time. I have found quite the opposite. These young men don’t want to wait for me to come back the following week to complete the next level-they want to complete all six levels that day! They say, “The graphics aren’t as good as the Playstation or XBOX games, but the levels are interesting” and they love the discussion afterwards. That’s right…a group of 10-15 teen boys that I sometimes have a hard time getting to shut up!

As a single father of two sons, it is a joy for me to see these young men I work with start to redefine what it means to be a dad and a man.  You hear them say things such as, “When I’m a dad, I’m gonna make sure my kids know I love them,” or, “I used to think it was gay for a man to kiss another man, but if you really love your dad or son, there’s nothing wrong with kissing them,” and, “My kids might not get everything they want, but I’m going to be there for them and spend time with them.” 

One of our funding sources was impressed with the work I was doing with the young men and the Boyz2Dads program. He had been reading my reports and wanted to know exactly how and what I was doing. After speaking to my Supervisor and her telling him that I have impacted 170 young men who have all shown an increase in the knowledge of the impact fathers have on their children and families and what characteristics make a good father, he asked, “How would you like some more money so you can offer some more fatherhood programs?” 

WHAT!??! More money to make more of an impact!? You know we said, "YES"!

Photo credit here.

Factor Fathers in 2013 - The Year You Involve Dads

Fatherhood Program

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sexy Sustainability: The Missing Element in Effective Father Engagement

sustainability

Sustainability planning and execution of that plan is the most important investment for any social service agency or non-profit organization looking to effectively engage fathers, mothers, and the community around responsible fatherhood. Planning is not as “sexy” as starting up a new program for dads, but it is the groundwork that makes the sexy programming possible...and sustainable.

All too often I’ve seen the disruption (or elimination) of fatherhood services in communities because the larger agencies where the fatherhood services were offered didn’t weave this work into the fabric of their organizational culture.  I’ve seen grant writers miss opportunities to write fatherhood resources into proposals that focus on broader issues, but clearly have a father factor involved.  I’ve seen executive staff give up trying to hire male staff prematurely.  There have been missed opportunities because staff have not formally mapped community assets or looked seriously at the father-friendliness of the agency’s physical environment.

Conversely, the “best practice agencies” that I’ve come across over the years consistently assess and improve their leadership development, organizational development, program development, and community engagement from the lens of father engagement and convert their assessment to specific tasks that have a clear “who, what, when” attached. 

Moreover, quantitative data -- which we gathered running a federally-funded project to build organizational sustainability in the fatherhood field -- reveal that agencies that develop action plans around the abovementioned categories increase overall sustainability in the short term, and that those gains hold in the long term.  Ninety-eight percent of those organizations increased their sustainability by the end of the first year of developing these father-friendly action plans.  Ninety-three percent maintained or further increased their sustainability after 2 years (Source: 2010, National Responsible Fatherhood Capacity-Building Initiative, Inspiration to Implementation).

In spite of this information, many agencies lack the resources, tools, awareness, and support to take this process as seriously as they should. The end result is that we have few (if any) parenting programs in our communities that are balanced in male and female participation.  This translates into fewer men becoming better dads and lower child well-being outcomes.

When agencies are forced to take a hard look at their organizational culture rather than just their services (which tends to be the default for most), it helps them create the Velcro that their programs and services can stick to.  But making these kinds of changes are not for the faint of heart and agency leaders need to be properly prepared, equipped, and trained to understand how to disrupt the present in order to change the future.

It is for that reason that National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) is committed to helping organizations attain sustainability for fatherhood work regardless of what the funding landscape looks like.  In our five years running the abovementioned federal project, we learned how to measure gains in sustainability and capacity, and how to help organizations maximize those gains.  From our free Father Friendly Check Up assessment to our 5 Steps to Fatherhood Programming Success, NFI recognizes that systemic change and better outcomes for fathers and families begins with community leaders and agencies doing a better job of creating a continual and uninterrupted stream of services for fathers. 

Here’s to making sustainability sexy… for the sake of our nation’s fatherless children.

Photo credit here

A Focus on Fatherhood is Coming to New Jersey

NFI Logo verical BlackNational Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) has been awarded a contract from the New Jersey Department of Children and Families (NJDCF) to strengthen the state’s services to fathers.

Through the provision of training and technical assistance on its flagship 24/7 Dad® program, NFI will help the state’s 175 NJDCF-funded agencies deliver standardized, high-quality services to fathers across the state. This 18-month process will give NJDCF the ability to more effectively measure the impact of fatherhood programming on pro-fathering skills, attitudes, and knowledge in New Jersey.

Each of NJDCF’s 175 service providers will send two to three staff to a two-day, NFI-run Fatherhood Program Camp. At these camps, the staff will be led through NFI’s Father Friendly Check-Up™ workshop to measure the degree to which their current services are catered towards meeting the needs of fathers. Then they will be trained on how to deliver NFI’s 24/7 Dad® program, which will help them educate and inspire the fathers they serve with practical skills and encouragement on their importance to their families. They will also be trained on how to integrate NFI’s Understanding Domestic Violence™ workshop into the 24/7 Dad® program.

The end goal of this training program will be to create in the service providers an organizational culture that supports the effective delivery of fatherhood programming, to equip them with a research-based fatherhood skill-building program in the form of 24/7 Dad®, and to give the providers the means to effectively address the issue of domestic violence. Ultimately, this program will allow NJDCF to increase the well-being of children throughout New Jersey.

Christopher A. Brown, executive vice president of NFI said, “We are excited to partner with the state of New Jersey on this innovative program to help the state’s family service providers more effectively engage New Jersey’s fathers. Every child deserves to have a 24/7 dad, and NFI stands ready to help New Jersey reach that honorable goal.”

NFI will provide NJDCF with evaluation tools to measure the impact of this program. For example, 24/7 Dad® includes a pre- and post-survey that facilitators can use to measure the impact of the program on pro-fathering self-efficacy, attitudes, and knowledge, and ultimately allow NJDCF to conduct a statewide evaluation on the program’s impact. Additionally, NFI will provide reports to NJDCF and each of its providers that show the pre- and post-assessment results of the Father Friendly Check-Up™ to determine whether or not the agencies have become measurably more father friendly over the course of the first year of the program.

National Fatherhood Initiative has a long history of providing comprehensive training and technical assistance on a statewide and national level. NFI has run statewide initiatives on behalf of Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Virginia, and has been involved in consulting with and operating portions of city & county initiatives in Milwaukee, WI and New York City. In 2006, under an open competition, NFI was awarded the administration of the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse. Under this federal contract, NFI provided and coordinated training and technical assistance for all of the approximately 100 fatherhood grantees of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Also in 2006, NFI was awarded a grant to run the National Responsible Fatherhood Capacity-Building Initiative with support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services / Administration for Children and Families / Office of Family Assistance.

If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about the New Jersey program, or would like to engage NFI on a similar county- or state-wide fatherhood initiative, please contact Erik Vecere, NFI VP of Project Design & Consulting at evecere@fatherhood.org.

4 Factors for Successful Father Involvement

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Are you looking to help the fathers you work with be more involved in their children's lives? Michael Lamb, who has conducted research on father involvement for many years, identified four factors that influence the level of a father's involvement. They are: social supports, skills and self-confidence, institutional/cultural factors, and motivation. 

Your organization can have a direct impact on the first three factors by using father-specific curricula, such as our 24/7 Dad™ program, to help dads build strong peer mentoring supports, improve their fathering skills, and give them the confidence in their ability to be a good dad. You can improve the institutional/cultural factors for dads by becoming a father-friendly organization in your community. A great way to do that is to assess your father-friendliness by using the Father-Friendly Check-Up™.

By addressing these first three factors in an intentional way, your organization will ultimately have a direct impact on each father's motivation to be an involved, responsible, and committed dad.
 
 

Help Us Give a Second Chance to Dads Like Marvin

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National Fatherhood Initiative is nearing the close of our fiscal year at the end of September.  We have a lot of exciting things planned for FY-2013 and we’re looking forward to bringing you more expert advice for dads, fatherhood perspectives on events in pop culture and the news, and practical resources to help you in your fathering journey.

But we can’t do this without your support.  We need to raise an additional $20,000 by the end of the month to enable us to activate the plans we have to change the lives of more dads and families next year. 

describe the imageMarvin Charles of Seattle, Washington, (pictured here with his wife, son, and father) is one of the dads whose life has been touched by National Fatherhood Initiative’s work.  His example as a role model and his commitment to helping others is impacting dads in his community who need a second chance.

Marvin’s story was captured by Lewis Kostiner, a photographer who traveled around the country at his own expense to meet dads who participated in NFI’s fathering programs through their local communities.  Mr. Kostiner’s photographs and the stories of these families are collected in an inspiring book, Choosing Fatherhood: America’s Second Chance.

Mr. Kostiner describes the role that Marvin plays in the lives of other dads and his own son:

Marvin Charles [...] spent most of his time keeping tabs on all the fathers and children in the National Fatherhood Initiative program whom he helped in his district. He picked them up and dropped them off and told them how to do this and how to do that. He never looked down on any of them, and his presence helped organize and prepare the children for their everyday journeys and, for the men, fatherhood. His clients struggled daily to survive, and he knew it. He did what he could to help them along. […] Marvin was a real community organizer, in the true sense. He was […] [there] to help kids and their dads. In his son's eyes, Marvin could easily have been elected Mayor of Seattle. Marvin carried his family's picture around with him all day long on his T-shirt, right in front of his heart.

Marvin and the dads he helps represent real-life families whose lives have been changed through NFI's work.  These "second chances" are possible because of the support of people just like you.  

Donate now and get a free book!Will you help us give a second chance to more families in the next year? 

Donate $100 or more today and we will send you a FREE copy of Choosing Fatherhood: America's Second Chance.

If you can't donate $100 or more, any amount will make a difference in helping us reach our goal for the fiscal year and start next year on the right foot!  Thanks for your support!

Donate Now

Parenting is Still a Code Word for "Mothering"

This post was authored by Chris Brown, NFI's Executive Vice President.

I’ve been involved in promoting involved, responsible, committed fatherhood for more than a decade in my role at NFI (and for several years prior to that with the Texas Department of State Health). Although I’ve seen a lot of movement in this country in general and among service providers specifically to recognize the indispensable role fathers play in raising healthy children, I am still amazed when I see evidence of how much more work we still have to do to help people realize that we must "call out" dads specifically rather than simply as part of the monolithic group of parents.

I am even more amazed when I see that some of the most well-known icons in our culture treat dads as second-class parents and, worse, incompetent parents as you might have read recently in this blog about the dad-bashing Huggies® commercials that were revised by the company only after backlash from dads and NFI. But I digress.

One of the most successful parenting programs in the world is called Triple-P Positive Parenting®. Developed by a group of researchers in Australia more than 30 years ago, the program has ample evidence that it helps parents to be, well, better parents. Based on this evidence, the program has expanded across the globe with offices in several countries that are dedicated to spreading the program in those domestic markets. Only recently, however, has the program been examined for separate affects on mothers and fathers, and this is where the story becomes interesting.

Researchers in Australia published a study in a recent edition of the American journal, Fathering, that found that Triple-P is—surprise, surprise—more effective with mothers than fathers. This study of nearly 5,000 parents who participated in the program found a large, positive effect on mothers’ parenting and a much smaller albeit positive effect on fathers’ parenting.

What struck me most, however, was the following finding: only 14 percent of the participating parents were fathers. The real problem here is not so much with the program or its impact—although I would certainly like to see it have the same degree of impact on fathers—it is with the lack of outreach and promotion to get fathers in the door. The Australian government spent more than $5 million to train facilitators in the program to, basically, train moms under the illusion that it would reach both sets of parents.

To be fair, the study found that even when the dad didn’t participate and the mom did, the program reduced the conflict between the couple which, no doubt, improved their parenting. And I have no doubt that the facilitators and the organizations they work for made some attempt to recruit dads into the program. But this is the same problem I see over and over again—a lack of commitment in our culture generally and among service providers specifically to call out dads as dads and not as parents.

Trust me when I say, “Parenting is a code word for ‘mothering.’” Until recently, Parenting magazine's tagline was “What Matters to Moms” (they changed the tagline but not the emphasis on moms). The New York Times parenting blog is called Motherlode.

One of the best ways to make this call to dads is with marketing strategies and materials designed specifically to reach fathers about programs specifically designed for fathers, such as NFI’s 24/7 Dad™ program. Simply making parenting programs “father-friendly” won’t do. I realize that statement might make some folks wriggle in their chair and, perhaps, stand up and shake their finger in disapproval. But also trust me when I say that based on nearly 20 years experience in helping organizations to make this call that it makes a huge difference in showing dads they matter as first-class parents, that they are competent parents.

Dads absolutely appreciate a program that addresses their unique needs because it makes them a better parent. Moreover, it helps service providers to recruit and retain fathers in programs specifically designed to help them be better dads, which, ultimately, helps us to achieve our ultimate goal of improving the lives of children.

Isn’t that what parenting is all about?

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

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