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The Father Factor

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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.

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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: 

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