Mobile Toggle
btn-shop-fathersourcehomepage-btnbrn-free-resources
rsstwfbenews

The Father Factor

subpage-image

5 First Steps to Starting (or Growing) a Fatherhood Program

There’s an old saying about starting on a path to achieving an objective: just put one foot in front of the other. Sage advice to be sure, but it doesn’t tell you much about the direction in which you should head.  For all you know, it could lead you to walk off the edge of a cliff. If you want to start or grow a fatherhood program, it’s vital that you know what to do first so that you head in the right direction. 

1. Conduct a Needs and Assets Assessment of Your Community.  You need to understand the “fatherhood landscape” in your community—the rate of father absence, the gaps in services for fathers, the programs for fathers (and the kinds of fathers they serve), etc.—before you can select a group of fathers to serve or who could also benefit from the program you already offer.

2. Identify and Learn About the Kind(s) of Father(s) You Want to Serve or Should Expand to Serve. Programs for specific populations of fathers are often more effective than programs for all fathers. Your organization alone can’t possibly address all the needs of all fathers. Educate yourself and your colleagues about the unique needs of specific populations of fathers in your community who can benefit the most from your program.

Men in Class

3. Create or Select a Program that Matches Fathers’ Needs and Wants. After you know who you will serve (or expand to serve), create or select a program and provide complementary services and resources that will meet fathers’ needs and wants. NFI has evidence-based and research-based and proven curricula, programs, and workshops to reach all kinds of fathers. There is no reason for you to “reinvent the wheel.” To get a current list of curricula and more detailed information about our resources, visit our website at www.fathersource.org or call our national office.

4. Market and Promote Your Program. Marketing a program or service is the greatest challenge of all. It not only involves recruitment, it involves retention and creating a positive image of your program or service in the community to generate referrals. (To learn how to create an effective marketing effort, contact NFI to bring the “Social Marketing for Fatherhood Programs™” workshopto your organization.)

5. Evaluate Your Program. Just because you follow the first 4 steps doesn’t mean that you won’t veer off course. An evaluation is like a GPS—it tells you whether you’re headed in the right direction as you implement your program and helps you to correct your course if necessary. Moreover, evaluations are critically important for program credibility, accountability, improvement, sharing of best practices, and to prove to funders that their dollars were well spent. You don’t need a complicated design to effectively evaluate your program. To help organizations with this step, NFI includes evaluation tools with many of its fatherhood programs.

Don’t waste time. Go ahead and put one foot in front of the other—just make sure to know in which direction you should take that first step. For more information on implementing these 5 steps, consider purchasing our how-to guide on starting a fatherhood program called “A Guide to Strengthening Fatherhood In Your Community: Moving From Inspiration to Implementation.” Download a sample below. 

 

For direct assistance from NFI on how to implement a comprehensive model that includes these and other steps, contact us at programsupport@fatherhood.org to bring “The 7 Bright Spots to Designing Your Fatherhood Program™” workshop to your organization.

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: 

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

NFI's Community Mobilization Approach Workshop

This is a guest blog from NFI Senior Program Support Consultant, Ave Mulhern

describe the image

Capacity-building is the way in which organizations build up their staff and organizational capacity to successfully run programs.

When is comes to training and serving fathers in your community, National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) wants your fatherhood program to be the best it can be, and reach as many dads as possible. That's why capacity-building is so important and will help your fatherhood program succeed, thrive, and effectively serve fathers.

To that end, please join us for NFI's Community Mobilization Approach Workshop in Germantown, MD on January 30, 2012 where you will learn how your organization can create lasting change in your community by working to engage all sectors of society to increase the number of children who grow up with involved, responsible fathers. 

Hear from Ave Mulhern, NFI's Sr. Program Support Consultant, about NFI's work with numerous organizations in the over the years to successfully mobilize communities around responsible fatherhood. 

During this workshop you will learn about: 

• How to raise up new fatherhood champions that represent all sectors of your community

• A needs and assets assessment process you can use to jumpstart a community-wide fatherhood initiative 

• Other cities, counties, and states that have successfully implemented the Community Mobilization Approach

We look forward to you dedicating your time with us!

Click Here to Learn More and Register for Our Upcoming Capacity Building Workshop>>

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

Search Our Blog

Topics