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The Father Factor

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When Dad's in Jail: How Team Dad is Helping Tennessee Families

For hundreds of families around East Tennessee, it's tough when dad's in jail. The sad thing is, it can be tougher once dad's out of jail. What are we doing to help dads be ready to be good dads once released? Hiliary Magacs shows us one program in Cocke County, Tennessee that's working to rehabilitate dads from the inside out.

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Hiliary Magacs (@wvlthilary) reporting for WVLT Local 8 News on a program in East Tennessee called Team Dad who is helping fathers in jail be ready to father once released.

The Sheriff's Office has partnered with Team Dad to help men find housing and jobs, so they can be the kind of dads their kids need them to be. The program is offered in connection with the Douglas-Cherokee Economic Authority, Inc. and serves men in six East Tennessee counties: Hamblen, Cocke, Grainger, Jefferson, Sevier & Monroe.

Travis Stewart is serving time for burglary and theft. He has a 12 year old son. Watch the video and you will hear Travis say what he's learning from NFI's InsideOut Dad® program. He says, "It's something I need to do to learn how to be responsible for my child and lead by example. The things I do reflects on his image."

Case managers for the program use workbooks, movies and discussions to help men learn how to communicate with their kids and the mothers of their children. "A lot of men close down and don't want to talk about feelings or their problems to other people...but when they're in here, they really do open up and talk about the issues they've had..." says Desiree Drinnon (Case Manager).

Learning to open up and talk about the issues is vital for Drew Whitlock, who is working to be the father his kids need. "I've got two girls one 16 and one 13...their mother overdosed beside me in the bed last year and I'm just trying to pick up the pieces," says Drew Whitlock (Participant in the InsideOut Dad® Program).

Besides parenting skills, Team Dad helps men in other ways, like connecting them with legal services for custody problems. The program also helps the men update their resumes and find jobs when they get out of jail. "We can put in a good word to the employers for the guys so they can get a chance to have an open door and start working again..." says Sam Escobales (Outreach Worker).

"The thing with most inmates is when they come in, they don't have nothing afterwards, you know, you can go back to the streets or you can try to find help..." says Craig Campbell. The help doesn't stop when the men walk out of the program. The dads can rely on Team Dad for as long as they need to. "Every class I tell them, now if you get out and your electric bill needs to be paid don't go kick in your neighbors door and steal their TV to sell for your electric bill. Come call me and we'll find someplace to help you..." says, Desiree Drinnon (Case Manager).

Recent graduates of the program say it's helped them a lot. For instance, Cody Moon (program graduate) says, "It's taught me better ways to budget my money for my kids and take care my kids and is teaching me better ways to treat the mother of my children."

Travis Shaver has learned when it comes to his children, "...you have to be there to provide for them, show them love and affection...it's the small things is what it is."

Sheriff Armando Fontes (Cocke County Sheriff's Office) is proud of how Team Dad has created stronger families in the community. He says, "It's called positive reinforcement, we help give them skills and abilities that they can take back home with them to better their lives and to better take care of their children."

Rodney Willingham (program graduate) reflects on his time attending the program and says, "I'm grateful that I got a chance to be in this program. I'm going to follow it up once I get out."

In eight months of operation, more than 50 men have graduated from Team Dad in Cocke County. The program is also offered in the Monroe County jail and organizers are hoping to expand to other jails in the future. Here's a picture from a recent graduating class of Team Dad:

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IODGTFT

Get your free sample download > 
InsideOut Dad® Guide to Family Ties


What's Inside the Guide?

  • Purpose and Parts of the Guide
  • Part 1: What to Expect - Your Children, Your Children’s Mother, What You Should Do
  • Part 2: Assess Yourself as Dad and Partner - The Ideal, The Real, The Deal
  • Part 3: Getting and staying in touch - With Your Children’s Mother, With Your Children, Become an Expert on Your Children, Become a “Long Distance” Coach, Ways to Get and Stay in Touch
  • Part 4: Create a reentry plan - Your Reentry Plan, Your Role in the Family, Bad Feelings, Gatekeepers, New Father Figures

We Don’t Mind Hiding Behind Your Fatherhood Program Success

As an organization whose main business is to create and sell fatherhood programs to organizations across the country, you can image how many community agencies are using our fatherhood programs such as 24/7 Dad® and InsideOut Dad®. (When I say business, I really mean that is how we accomplish our mission as a non-profit organization.) More often than not, when an organization purchases one of our fatherhood programs, they incorporate the curriculum into a larger initiative or approach to serving fathers (we call this “wrap around services”.)

Video-Cam-Share-500Thus, the NFI brand, and even our program names, go overlooked/unmentioned. But we’re okay with that - we don’t mind hiding behind your success. Because that’s what we’re here to do: Create a world in which every child has a 24/7 Dad®. And we do it through you.


We don't run fatherhood classes and talk to dads everyday. We help organizations doing that very work across the country to be successful. We provide father absence and father involvement research that help justify an organization or state’s investment in father-focused programs. We write articles on father engagement and how to be a better dad. And we love to hear about how our various fatherhood curricula are a foundational piece of family and societal “puzzles” being pieced together across the country. You are the stars that bring our curricula to life! Thank you for that.

Occasionally we browse YouTube for stories of impact – organizations sharing their fatherhood initiative successes. And often, we find within those stories, nuggets of gold – along with the use of one of our fatherhood programs. Sometimes the actual curriculum name is mentioned, other times it is not (but we have a staff person who helped that very organization build their fatherhood initiative) – and it makes us feel like proud parents! 

So as proud parents, I want to share a couple such videos with you today. You’re in for a treat. Children’s lives are being changed across the nation, one father at a time. And it’s never too late to start.

Do you use NFI curricula and have a video to share about your fatherhood initiative? Don’t be shy; be sure we know about it! Share your story and video here.

John R. Grubb YMCA Fatherhood Initiative
Des Moines, IA

Click here to learn more about their fatherhood offerings.


New Opportunities, Inc. Fatherhood Initiative
Part of the John S. Martinez Fatherhood Initiative of Connecticut

Click here to learn more about their fatherhood offerings.

Do you use NFI curricula and have a video to share about your fatherhood initiative? Don’t be shy; be sure we know about it! Share your story and video here.

The How and Why Behind Never Giving Up Hope

Dads and moms aren't perfect. But, if mom understands the importance of involving dad, she will understand that she herself - is a vital factor in connecting father to child. The following story reveals exactly this...

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Jamal recently emailed me with his story of becoming a father overnight...

It’s been eight years since my daughter has come into my life. I say “come into,” because I was not present when she was born. In fact, I didn’t even know that I had a child. Let me explain. I dated my daughter’s mother the spring/summer of 2005 and the relationship ended in the fall of 2005. We did not speak or communicate for months after the break up. During this period of time, I decided to focus on improving my life, so I re-enrolled myself in college to complete my degree. I picked a temp-to hire position with a company with the hopes of working there full time after completing my education. I lived at home with my mother, made very little money, and the only responsibility I had was to myself

The summer of 2006 rolls around and I’m continuing to stay focused on my goals working during the day and going to school at night. One night, I saw a news report which mentioned my ex's name and connected her in some way to an abandoned baby. Feeling a sense of urgency to see if my ex was okay, I immediately called her and we spoke briefly. In my mind I started to count back the months that she and I had been intimate, and it had been almost exactly nine months. So I asked her if the abandoned baby was my child. I was told no, and to stay out of it.   

I just knew I had to know
the truth for me.


After hanging up the phone, you would think I would feel relief, but I did not. My heart was heavy and I could not shake the fact that this abandoned child could indeed be my child. Up to this day, I don’t know what compelled me to investigate further to find the truth. I just knew I had to know the truth for me. I contacted detectives working the case and was given instructions to contact a local children’s organization to take a DNA test. The test was taken on July 17th. I waited for about a week for the results, and the wait seemed like an eternity. Finally the day had come. It was July 21st. I was at work sitting at my desk. An email appeared from children’s of youth organization, with subject line titled paternity test. I opened the email and it turned out I was the father. 

My life had changed overnight. 
I was a father to a precious little girl.


In that moment I felt a whirlwind of feelings: anger, confusion, fear, happiness, excitement, anxiousness - probably ever emotion imaginable. My phone had been ringing off the hook but I could not speak to anyone. I cried at my desk and sat still. My life had changed overnight. I was a father to a precious little girl. Not too long after, I received a follow up call from the children's organization and they only had one question: ”Do you want custody of your daughter?” Without hesitation, I said "Yes." After going through the process and a series of legal events, I was granted custody of my daughter and was given the right to name her. On that day of August 1st, I held my daughter for the first time. I knew then, that everything that I was had to change, and it was step up time for sure. 

It has been 8 years now.


It’s been 8 years now and we are still going strong. Being immersed in the joys and responsibility of fatherhood, I had not opened up publicly about my side of this experience. I now feel an obligation to come forward and talk about my experience with the hopes to inspire others, not just in the arena of parenting but in life to go for what you believe in, even when the odds are stacked against you. If my daughter ever gets a chance to read this, I want her to know that I never gave up on her and never will. I hope my belief in my daughter will inspire her to go forward and believe in her own self and dreams. Becoming a father has taught me so much about life and myself. My daughter has been a teacher to me as I am to her. While I am blessed and proud to be her father, I realize that the victory and glory is not mine, but God’s, as it was his divine plan in the beginning.

Becoming a father has taught me
so much about life and myself.

While this situation isn't easy; sadly, it's not unique. Marriage is difficult. Parenting is difficult. Having a baby is a uniquely difficult time in the life of mom and dad. But, we must remember that it is vital to the baby, that both mom AND dad be involved before and after pregnancy. We know from research that a dad's involvement is vital to a child's well-being.

We at NFI spend a lot of our time creating tip cards, brochures, and pocket guides to help dads and moms understand these very facts - and as I read Jamal's story, I saw the pieces falling into place. There are so many benefits for everyone involved when mom helps to ensure dad is involved from the start:

  1. Think Baby: 
    Your child benefits from Dad's involvement the moment he or she is born and the benefits continue through adulthood.
    • Healthy Development: A child with an involved dad has been shown to do better on tests of emotional, social, and mental development. Involved dads have been shown to increase weight gain in preterm infants (preemies) and increase the change that mom will breastfeed. 
    • Success in School: a child of an involved dad does better in school, on average, than a child who grows up without an involved dad. They're more likely to get A's, behave well, and less likely to drop out of school. 
    • Good Physical Health: Involved dads who are active and have a healthy weight are more likely to have a child who is active and have a healthy weight which is vital to avoiding many diseases such as diabetes.
    • Good Behavior: a child with an involved dad is less likely to smoke, use drugs, become or get someone pregnant as a teen, or engage in violent and other risky behavior. 
    • Well-Being and Success as an Adult: a child with an involved dad is more likely ot have higher self-esteem.
       
  2. Think Mom:
    Mom benefits from dad's involvement from the moment mom becomes pregnant. Really!
    • Good pregnancy: when dad is involved in moms' pregnancy, mom is more likely to attend pre-natal visits. Mom is less likely to have health problems while pregnant, such as anemia and high blood pressure.  
    • Less Stress for Her: an involved dad reduces moms' stress. It's easier to talk with an involved dad about ways to help reduce stress. 
    • Better Family Finances: an involved dad is more likely to work harder and earn more money. 
    • Better Marriage/Relationship: When both parents share the load of raising a child, it reduces the stress on both parents. Less stress leads to a better marriage and relationship.
       
  3. Think Dad:
    Dad benefits from his involvement from the moment mom becomes pregnant. These benefits include some of the sames ones that mom receives, includingbetter family finances and a better marriage relationship.
    • Early Bonding With Child: When dad prepares to be a dad while mom is pregnant, he is better able to bond with his child and more likely to be involved as his child ages. Studies show that when dad is involved leading up to and during the birth of his child, his oxytocin or "bonding hormone" rises while his testosterone or "wandering hormone" declines.
    • Better Health and Well-Being for Him: An involved dad is more healthy emotionally and physically. He is more likely to go to the doctor when sick and for regular check-ups. 
    • More Giving: Being a dad can help dad be  more giving to family and the community. The involved dad is more likely to be social, volunteer, and spend time doing things like attending church and helping the community.
    • Success at Work: The involved dad's child is more likely to succeed, to advance, and advance more quickly in his or her career. The skills dad develops while raising a child is the same skill that helps him succeed at work.

Let Jamal's story encourage and remind you that everyone wins when a child has an involved dad. Oh, and, it's never too late to start being involved.

How involved was your dad? How did his involvement or non-involvement affect you?  

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Like this blog post? Consider our Pocketbook for New Moms™: a Pocketbook Full of Reasons for New Moms to Involve Dads

 

 

Note: the story above was submitted solely by Jamal and does not reflect any opinions from NFI.

See How Connecticut is Changing Fatherhood and Why It Matters to You

In a recent issue of Connecticut Magazine, Ray Bendici writes, "The Changing Face of Fatherhood in Connecticut" and takes a look inside the fatherhood program that is literally changing lives. Learn what this group is doing to help dads connect with their children. 

Ray writes for Connecticut Magazine:

it's Monday afternoon at Madonna Place in downtown Norwich, men ranging in age from their early twenties up to mid-fifties trickle into the plain brick building...They greet each other with fist bumps and handshakes, load paper plates with pizza, sit down at the table and start talking about busting their asses at work, trying to negotiate child visitation with ex-wives and girlfriends, navigating legal issues, going fishing with their kids...and motorcycles—you know, guy stuff.

connecticut_magazine_changing_fatherhoodWill Marquez is the leader of the 24/7 Dad® program and leads a dozen men in 90-minute sessions all connected and ready to learn how to be better dads.

Bendici points out that around 90 percent of the men in this program are single dads and are referred either by a social services agency or others who have successfully completed the program.

Some things jumped out at me from Bendici's article that will prove useful and encouraging for you.

U.S. Census data for Connecticut shows that in 2000:

  • 676,467 married households—52% of the state population.

By 2010, that number had dipped to:

  • 672,013—49% despite the overall population of the state having grown from 3.41 million to 3.57 million.

In Bendici words, "there are more singleparents—and singledads—than ever before, which means fatherhood has become an evolving enterprise."

As we know from our years of experience working with community-based fatherhood programs, many point to employment as one of the biggest roadblocks to improved paternal relationsAnthony Judkins, program manager of Connecticut’s Fatherhood Initiative since it started in 1999 says, “When you have children, there are no instructions on being a father...when you have been incarcerated and you are a felon, when you have low education levels, when you have child-support debt that continues to mount—those things are sometimes insurmountable." This is where the fatherhood program comes in.

The fatherhood program in Norwich has been successful:

  • helped 152 fathers (and 302 children)
  • 56% of unemployed fathers obtained employment after program enrollment,
  • 60% of fathers initiated, resumed or caught up on child support payments because of the assistance they received

All of the above positive results have, as you might imagine, translated into better relationships with their children.

As one session at Madonna Place wraps up, Bendici recalls an exercise. Will Marquez poses a scenario of teenage son smoking marijuana, and asks the fathers in the group how they would handle the situation, especially given that many of the dads have used it themselves.

Bendici writes that, "Before the discussion goes too far, a man named Jeff raises his hand—he thinks his 15-year-old son may already be using marijuana. “I was that age when I started smoking, so trust me, I can tell,” he says."

The dads in the group have a wide variety of advice, some common sense and some not-so-common. But, Jeff is happy to have the support of other dads. After listening to the advice, he replies, “I think I have a good idea of how I’m going to address it now.”

As the group breaks for the evening, Travis (a father of three) is seated at a table, completing an exit survey (this was his twelfth and final session to get his certificate of completion).

Bendici recalls overhearing a conversation between Travis and another dad, “So are you done here now that you’ve got it?” someone asks him. “No,” Travis says with a smile. “I’ll definitely be back for more.”

I'm glad Bendici wrote about this fatherhood program. While reading this story, I was reminded of how much work there is to do in helping dads be better dads. Fatherhood work can seem daunting; but, it's encouraging to know groups like this one in Connecticut exist, not only because Connecticut families need it, but every family needs it.

New Orleans Group Teaches Fathers How to Be Dads

Writing for New Orleans Public Radio, Eve Abrams reports on a group called NOLA Dads who is reaching the community by training fathers to be better dads.

Abrams points out that since 1986, a group called Family Service of Greater New Orleans has offered many services to the community including mental health counseling and training. Why are we telling you about this great work? Because they recently added a class called NOLA Dads.

nola dads nprAbrams interviewed Lawrence, a father trained by NOLA Dads using NFI's 24/7 Dad® Program. Lawrence is a new dad. Listen to the audio of Eve's interview with Lawrence here. I found it touching to hear the genuine response from Lawrence when Eve asks what he's learned from the program that can connect him to his daughter.

His response, "I tell her things," he continues by explaining that he tells his daughter:

“You're important. You're sweet. You're kind. I love you...and then I repeat it about five times. That’s what I do. I do it all the time. Even when she's asleep.”

Wow, I've worked at NFI for two years. I'm still surprised by this statement. The complex made simple, right? While it's Lawrence who's attending the 24/7 Dad® training, it sounds like he could teach us dads a thing or two about what's really important.

Once a week, Lawrence takes a class on how to be a dad. It’s called NOLA Dads; and much like the training that's happening in San Diego, New Orleans is changing the community by addressing the problem of father absence.

Lawrence says of the program:

“I’m glad I’m in here, because you know I’ve never been a daddy so I need to learn what I need to, learn to do what I got to do, to be able to be there...might not have money, might not be able to fat up with gifts, but as long as love and caring count, I’m all about it. So there’s a whole lot more that I can learn.”

As part of the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, Lawrence attends the NOLA Dads class at a local center. The program is part of a bigger campaign to reduce recidivism for ex-offender's on probation and parole. The fatherhood training deals with all things related to parenting including communication, anger management, employment and education.

Eve also talked with Patrick Carter, the facilitator for NOLA Dads. He says, “Family Service finds a need to come back and help in the community...they noticed that all programs are geared toward women, so Family Service put something together to come out and help the males in the community.”  

Patrick continues:

"Because society places us in a certain kind of role, so it's kinda hard for us to say, 'Look I need help,' because we don't want to be looked upon as weak or afraid or less of a man...I find that us as males, we want help but we don’t want to be looked upon in a certain kind of way for asking for it...I mean, I’ve never been asked about how do I feel as a man about anything. Basically just suck it up, tough it up, and make it happen. As opposed to the other side of it: changing my thinking so I can be better and do better things for myself, family and community.”

Listen to the audio and you will hear, Carter, the facilitator, start class by asking the dads about parenting. After Carter asks the class, "What's three things you can do today to help your child do well in school?" Another dad in the program, Joseph, answers:

“My first one is help him every day with his homework when he comes home...reward him for the good things he is doing in school, and the third one to like stay up on him, make sure I stay up on him so he can do the right thing. Because once I let off he may take off and go the other way. So keep that in there."

Listen closely and you will hear Carter reply, “I tell you some other ways too. Let your kids see you actually doing the things that they do in school. So when your kids come home and never see you read or anything, and you tell them to read, why would they want to read?

Carter makes the same point with writing, "Writing too. If they never see you write — kids want to imitate you. They pick up everything you do. They put on your shoes, they want to put on your clothes. Even if it’s you reading the paper, or you writing down a grocery list or anything, they need to see you reading. They need to see you writing. Simple as that.”

“They want to do what their parents are doing," says Joseph.

Eve reveals upon leaving the NOLA Dads class, she asked Joseph, a dad with a young son, if there was anything else he wanted her to know. His reply?

“NOLA Dad is a great program...it’s helping me to succeed with my child and teach him better, give him that structure that I wasn’t given.”

We couldn't ask for anything more when it comes to serving fathers with our 24/7 Dad® program.

Click here to learn more about the 24/7 Dad Program® and download our free guide to getting started.

 

NFI Celebrates 20 Years of Changing Fatherhood: Ryan Williams

This is a special year for us. It marks our 20th year of working to “change fatherhood” by ending father absence and connecting fathers to their children. Meet Ryan Williams...

20 year fatherhood changes everything

To celebrate the fathers and families whose lives we’ve turned around in the last 20 years, we launched this series of videos, blog posts, photographs, and stories to highlight how our work has strengthened fatherhood since 1994.

At NFI, we know that fatherhood changes everything. If you're a family that's been helped by us, you know how important fatherhood is. For the organizations we have helped provide our training programs, you know how vital fathers are to creating healthy families and healthy communities.

From poverty, to crime, to school achievement, to child abuse—every issue we care about is affected by whether or not a child has an involved, responsible, and committed father.

When we connect a father to his child, heart to heart, lives change, communities change, and our entire nation is better for it.

This video shows how NFI’s programs affect an individual life. This is one story out of many over our 20 years of operation.

Each video in this series was created from the book “Choosing Fatherhood: America’s Second Chance,” a photography book created by Lewis Kostiner.

Lewis spent years traveling around the country, photographing dads who were going through NFI’s programs at community-based organizations in their neighborhoods. The result was a compelling photo book telling the stories of dads working hard to make their children’s lives better.

Ryan williams

In this video, we spotlight Ryan Williams, who attended an NFI workshop in his community and learned how to be a better dad. Read his words or listen to them on the video, they are a powerful. Let Ryan's words remind you that you are vital to your child's life. And if you're part of an organization who doesn't serve fathers, you should consider how you can better train fathers today.


Can't view the video? Click here.

"My dad really was never around. I don't know where he is today. I was raised by my grandma. My grandpa passed away. I really didn't listen to her or relate to her like I should because she was a lot older than me. Not having a dad around really influenced me with my daughter, that I know I have to be there for her, and I have to be around. My grandma raised me to take care of responsibilities. I feel like a good dad. I'm not great because I've made some mistakes here and there. This is my first daughter, my first kid. It's just fun. Probably the best experience in the world was watching her be born and then cutting the umbilical cord, just being there for the whole birth process. I don't know how you cannot want to give your kid everything, just seeing what you created. Everything may not go right between you and the other parent, but you always have a strong bond with your kid. That's the most important thing – just have a strong bond with your kid, because the kid needs both parents." —Ryan Williams (Colorado Springs, Colorado) 

View more stories from our Fatherhood Changes Everything series here.

How has fatherhood changed you? How have you changed fatherhood?

 

381 Dads & Counting: Kentucky Dept of Corrections is Changing Fathers from the Inside-Out

There are over 2.3 million men and women in prison today. Ninety-five percent of these individuals will eventually be released from prison. How we prepare these moms and dads while behind bars and upon release matters.

Sadly, two out of three offenders will re-offend once released. There is an intergenerational cycle of incarceration: a study of 109 juvenile offenders indicated that family structure significantly predicts delinquency.* Said in a less-academic way: when dad's in prison, his child is more likely to go to prison. A generation of children is growing up without involved dads. We must train fathers how to dads while in prison. 

A generation of children is growing up without 
involved dads. We must train fathers
how to be dads while in prison.

 

How can this problem be solved? Are we comfortable letting offenders rot in jail? Or will we rehabilitate these persons from the inside-out?

The Kentucky Department of Corrections is getting it. Eighty-nine percent of Kentucky's inmate population is male—and many are fathers—fathers returning to their families and communities. Kentucky is all too familiar with the issues from releasing fathers who have not been prepared "on the inside" to be involved, responsible fathers.

89% of Kentucky's inmate population is
male—and many are fathers—fathers returning 
to their families and communities.


kentucky department of corrections

The Kentucky Department of Corrections (DOC) mission is to:

Protect the citizens of the Commonwealth and to provide a safe, secure, and humane environment for staff and offenders in carrying out the mandates of the legislative and judicial processes; and to provide opportunities for offenders to acquire skills that facilitate non-criminal behavior. 

The Challenge 
Until finding NFI's programs, Kentucky didn't have a program in place to serve dads. Eighty-nine percent of Kentucky’s inmate population is male and many are fathers, some even grandfathers.

In many cases, dads in prison get a visit from their child, however it's not all roses. Their child is confused and upset that dad is in prison, and there aren't clear answers for the child about why dad isn't in their lives. These children have to draw their own conclusions.

Then one day, dad is released. Dad's coming home! Hopefully, he's coming home to the family he once left. This dad will be faced with marriage, family and parenting decisions. What dad learned or didn't learn from prison about connecting with his wife and kids will be tested within minutes.

This challenge moved the Kentucky DOC to train and connect these dads to their families before release. The state was required to use an evidence-based program, and wanted to implement a program to reach dads both while in prison and once they left. 

The Solution 
In their research for a suitable fatherhood training, Kentucky found NFI's InsideOut Dad® program, the only evidence-based program developed specifically for incarcerated fathers. InsideOut Dad® has been implemented with fidelity, and provides a cognitive behavioral therapeutic approach, along with a focus on the inmate and the child.

Research shows that fathers who are connected to their children and family prior to release are more likely to successfully integrate back into the community and less likely to return to prison. This fit the bill for Kentucky, and they now run InsideOut Dad® in their 10 all-male facilities. 

Research shows that fathers who are connected
to their children and family prior to release
are more likely to successfully integrate back into the community
and less likely to return to prison. 

NFI also worked with Kentucky to create a re-entry program to help dads continue building their fathering skills once released. Kentucky's DOC works with community-based organizations, via the state’s Probation and Parole Division, to deliver NFI’s 24/7 Dad® program to fathers in transitional facilities and other community-based organizations in the re-entry field. 24/7 Dad® addresses fathering from a holistic perspective and continues to build on pro-fathering behaviors.

Speaking with a representative of the Kentucky DOC, she pointed out that by using InsideOut Dad® and 24/7 Dad® programs, the state was addressing the top four needs of fathers:

    1. Criminal and family history
    2. Family (marriage and parenting)
    3. Education and employment
    4. Leisure and recreation

Since the state started tracking the use of the program in 2012, 381 dads have graduated from program.

The best news? The state has seen a clear shift in the inmate population from an egocentric attitude, to a focus on their families and children, even from inside prison. In addition to the fathers benefiting from the program, the DOC is meeting their statute requirement by offering both the program inside prison and 24/7 Dad® outside prison while inmates make their transition.

The state has seen a shift in the inmates
from an egocentric attitude, to a focus on 
their families and children, even from inside prison.


For more information on the products and services the Kentucky DOC is using along with the organizations they are partnering with, view the full case study and visit our Corrections Programs page for more program successes.

How is your state helping incarcerated fathers connect with their families from the inside-out?

*Source: Bush, Connee, Ronald L. Mullis, and Ann K. Mullis. “Differences in Empathy Between Offender and Nonoffender Youth.” Journal of Youth and Adolescence 29 (August 2000): 467-478. 

San Diego Is Getting Fatherhood: What Happens When 120+ Fathers Become Trained Dads

We know fatherhood changes everything. And we've changed fatherhood in our 20 years of operation. This post is one example of what we mean. I recently talked with three incredible folks who are training fathers in San Diego, California. This group uses our 24/7 Dad® program to train dads. Here's how they are changing fatherhood in their community.

logo_mhaLead by Daphyne Watson, Executive Director of Mental Health America, she, Andre Jones and Aaron Wooten are changing the lives of dads in San Diego. They call their fatherhood program Father2Child, and one thing I noticed in the first few minutes of my call with Aaron and Andre was how highly they spoke of Daphyne.

Daphyne has vision. She is the woman who saw that not only was something broken in her community, but that fatherhood specifically, was the necessary repair. She pulled Aaron and Andre together because she saw the need for training more dads to be better dads. Daphyne gets fatherhood; and thanks to her work, she's helping San Diego get fatherhood.

Watch this video to see the remarkeable results of their fatherhood program in action (visit here to get details on the song in this video).

What's Father2Child doing in San Diego? 
Over the last three years, they have organized over 120 dads using NFI's 12-week 24/7 Dad® program to teach dads how to be great dads. From the 120-plus dads, many have reported learning:

  • What it means to be a father
  • How to better interact with their kids
  • How to work with the mother of their kids

It's important to mention that Father2Child's 24/7 Dad® class didn't start with 120 dads. Their first group meeting had just seven dads, and with each additional week, more men joined. In the end, that first group graduated a class of 15-20 dads! 

The first graduation ceremony as a platform to promote the next group. In three years, they grew their footprint such that 120 dads have since graduated from the program!

"The project is designed to improve fathering knowledge, 
fathering skills, and attitude towards fathering." 
—Andre Jones (Father2Child Project Coordinator)


Watch the video close and you'll find, Aaron Wooten (Father2Child Project Director), as he speaks to a graduating class of dads. Listen as he tells the newly-trained dads, "Andre and I, we work as guides, but the people that really move the process of change are the men (graduates) on this stage."

mental health america father2child san diego

What do the men cover in the program?
Howard Tayari (24/7 Dad® graduate) describes the 12-week program and points out, "it takes you through life skills, communication skills, parenting skills, behavior skills and it breaks down that barrier...allowing men to talk one on one with another man."

Howard is in the video as well. At the end he was asked how he would describe the program. He replies, "If I had to rate this program [24/7 Dad®], one word "priceless." It's absolutely priceless. I would say that every father, potential father and anyone thinking about being a father should be a part of this program."

I asked Daphyne, Aaron, and Andre a few more questions about leading the 24/7 Dad® program:

What's the toughest part of what you do with the men, as leaders? 
Recruiting men to attend the program is one of the biggest challenges. Andre pointed out what we know, men aren't typically great at saying, "I need help." Often, it's the opposite; we say, "I don't need help."

Aaron makes clear, "If they can ever get that dad to attend the first class, and understand that it's more that just a parenting class, more than just about learning to be a better dad, it's about becoming a better human." Then they have something.

Why do Aaron and Andre work with fathers?
When asked, Aaron said he was dedicated to fathers because he, "saw too many men meet their dads on a prison yard." And this is in fact true - there is an intergenerational cycle of incarceration among men.

Andre explained his motivation to work with fathers saying, "As men, we will hold other men accountable for all kinds of things from cars to clothes, but we don't hold each other accountable as dads."

Daphyne quickly pointed out the generational component she's seeing from the dads who attend, "Some are new dads, some men are raising grand kids, but there's a real connection and support, the program opens the process of healing."

What's one of their most memorable stories from the program? 
A retired police officer helped a young boy from being a criminal, to now the sheriff recently helped him get his driver's license. They add, "when you see a father say, 'this isn't about me, it's about my child,' that's a dad who gets it."

"When you see a father say,
'this isn't about me, it's about my child,'
that's a dad who gets it."


Andre and Aaron have seen men attend the classes who have never had a good example of a dad. Those same men have now learned how to be a dad...how to be a better man. 

How do you know you're making a difference?
Aaron and Andre point out that they, "are doing something that makes real-life change in people. We see it. And they keep coming back. So we know that it works!" 

Watch the video created by Father2Child. Be inspired to change fatherhood like Aaron, Andre, Daphyne, and these graduating dads. As you watch, remember that NFI can also help your organization to train dads by providing the tools you need to be effective in changing lives of children, fathers, and families.

24/7 dad getting started guide

Thinking of starting a fatherhood program?
Get our free guide to learn how to start and be successful.

24/7 Dad® Program is Connecting Father to Child in El Paso, Texas

In El Paso, Texas, Jose Camacho is one of around 25 fathers who are part of our 24/7 Dad® Program at the Child Crisis Center of El Paso.

24_7_Dad_handbook

The program has only been around since late February. "I've been learning how to treat my kids better," Camacho said.

Once a week, he spends two hours at the Child Crisis Center learning skills that he hopes will make him a better dad.

"We jumped at the chance and we were able to get the grant through the state. We got a $1.2 million grant for five years," said Russell Booth, a fatherhood effect educator.

The program centers around five main components:

  1. self awareness
  2. caring for self
  3. fathering skills
  4. parenting skills
  5. relationship skills


"So a lot of times it's more of a conversation that we have through the facilitators and the students. When it comes to learning how to discipline, learning about how to show love, learning about how to motivate a child," Booth said.

"There's a group of men that we all share, give little testimonies of our life as parents, how can we do better?," Camacho said. Watch the video from KFOX14 to learn more:

Can't view the video? Click here.

Speaking about teaching men who may have not had a father figure how they can be dads for their own children, Booth said, "Unfortunately, a lot of men today didn't have that role. So that's why this program is so awesome."

Booth points there are many challenges when it comes to being a dad. "It's something that's not really taught to you. You learn it through trial and error. And that's one of the hardest parts is trying to be a good dad and not really knowing about it."

Developed by fathering and parenting experts, our 24/7 Dad® Program focuses on the characteristics that men need to be involved fathers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. NFI is excited to see the El Paso, Texas area learn the fathering skills it needs from evidence-based community programming.

Celebrating 20 Years of Changing Fatherhood: Randall Gonzalez

2014 is a special year for NFI. It marks our 20th year of working to “change fatherhood” by ending father absence and connecting fathers to their children.

20 year fatherhood changes everything

To celebrate the fathers and families whose lives we’ve turned around, we launched this series of videos, blog posts, photographs, and stories to highlight how our work has strengthened fatherhood since 1994.

At NFI, we know that Fatherhood Changes Everything. From poverty, to crime, to school achievement, to child abuse—every issue we care about is affected by whether or not a child has an involved, responsible, and committed father.

When we connect a father to his child, heart to heart, lives change, communities change, and our entire nation is the better for it.

This video reveals how NFI’s programs affect an individual life. This is one story out of many.

Each video in this series was created from the book “Choosing Fatherhood: America’s Second Chance,” a photography book created by Lewis Kostiner. Lewis spent years going around the country, photographing dads who were going through NFI’s programs at community-based organizations in their neighborhoods. The result was a compelling photo book telling the stories of dads working hard to make their children’s lives better. 

Randall Gonzalez

In this video, we spotlight Randall Gonzalez, who attended an NFI workshop in his community to learn how to be a better dad. Read his words or listen to them on the video, they are a powerful if you take time to listen. Let Randall's words remind you that you are vital to your child's life.



Can't view the video? Click here.

"I tell my daughter from time to time, 'Remember, you can ask me anything you want. Even if I'm embarrassed, I'm still gonna answer you.' I remind her that I don't get embarrassed about my handicap. I'm trying to build a good rapport with her and talkig to her about trust. And I try to let her make as many decisions on her own as she can while she is young, so that she gets better at it when she is older. I am not going to expose her to everything. I am not going to hide things from her. I just want to make sure she is ready for life and ready to be happy. Another thing, I refuse to spank. My father spanked me. His father spanked him and on up the line, so I'm breaking the chain. It takes a little more time and a little bit more patience, but I think in the end it's going to be better for her." —Randall Gonzalez (San Antonio, Texas)


How have you changed fatherhood?



   
   

Celebrating 20 Years of Changing Fatherhood: Jerre Fields (Video)

Fatherhood Changes Everything… And We’ve Changed Fatherhood!

20 year fatherhood changes everything

This is a special year for us at NFI. It marks our 20th year of working to “change fatherhood” by ending father absence and connecting fathers to their children.

To celebrate the fathers and families whose lives we’ve turned around, we launched this series of videos, blog posts, photographs, and stories to highlight how our work has strengthened fatherhood since 1994.

At NFI, we know that Fatherhood Changes Everything.

From poverty, to crime, to school achievement, to child abuse – every issue we care about is affected by whether or not a child has an involved, responsible, and committed father. We know that when we connect a father to his child, heart to heart, lives change, communities change, and our entire nation is transformed.

celebrating 20 years of changing fatherhoodThis video reveals how NFI’s programs affect an individual life. This is one story out of many. But each video in this series was created from the book “Choosing Fatherhood: America’s Second Chance,” a photography book created by Lewis Kostiner. Lewis spent years going around the country, photographing dads who were going through NFI’s programs at community-based organizations in their neighborhoods. The result was a compelling photo book telling the stories of dads working hard to make their children’s lives better.

In this video, we spotlight Jerre Fields, who attended an NFI workshop in his community to learn how to be a better dad. Read his words or listen to them on the video, they are a powerful if you take time to listen.

Let Jerre's words serve as a great reminder that you, dad, serve the vital role your child needs, that every child needs.

 Can't view the video? Click here.

"My advice to other dads? Get involved with your family. Make sure that you're there with them every day, from the morning through the evening. Just try to keep up with the education. Education is the number-one thing when you're raising your kids, so that they can definitely have a better way of life once they leave the home. Just talking to your kids, playing games every day will help their social skills a lot better once they are able to get out there in the real world. Just all the love you can give them, hugs, just reading stories at night is one of the best things I can see now and maybe in my past." —Jerre Fields (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)

How has fatherhood changed you? Tell us in the comments!

24/7 Dad® Program Connects Fathers to their Children in Salem, Oregon

In Salem, Oregon, M. E. N. (Men’s Enrichment Network) will be helping fathers acquire the skills they need to be involved in their children’s lives through National Fatherhood Initiative’s 24/7 Dad® program.

The first group of 7 dads will be going through a 12-session workshop that will give them the parenting, relationship, and communication skills they need to be involved, responsible, and committed fathers.

24_7_Dad_handbookThe curriculum will be facilitated by Derrick Postell and Sterling Alexander, the Founders of M. E. N.

“NFI is excited about M. E. N.’s efforts to help fathers build their skills through the 24/7 Dad® program...research shows that a major barrier to father involvement is a lack of skills in dads, many of whom grew up without fathers in their lives. At a time when 1 in 3 children live in father-absent homes, M. E. N. should be applauded for its efforts to help dads get involved.” —Chris Brown, president of National Fatherhood Initiative.

It’s an honor to be a part of the continued efforts, in our community and beyond, helping fathers become a healthy consistent in the lives of their children and families. Men’s Enrichment Network in partnership with National Fatherhood Initiative will give the fathers in our community the tools needed to become that healthy consistent. —Derrick Postell, President, M.E.N.

Developed by fathering and parenting experts, 24/7 Dad® focuses on the characteristics that men need to be involved fathers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This community-based program helps men develop the attitudes, knowledge, and skills they need to get — and stay — involved with their children. 24/7 Dad® focuses on key fathering characteristics — like masculinity, discipline, and work/family balance — and helps men evaluate their own parenting skills, as well as their fathering role models.

The 24/7 Dad curriculum will require each man to really examine himself, his relationship with his children and the relationship with the mother of his children. If every man who enters this program is open to change, I have no doubt in my mind he will change and for the better. —Sterling Alexander, Vice-President, M.E. N.

NFI is excited to partner with M.E.N. and is excited to see the Salem, Oregon area learn the fathering skills it needs from evidence-based community programming.

Celebrating 20 Years of Changing Fatherhood: Wilburn Carver (Video)

20 year fatherhood changes everything2014 is a special year for NFI. It marks our 20th year of working to “change fatherhood” by ending father absence and connecting fathers to their children.

To celebrate the fathers and families whose lives we’ve turned around, we want to show you, by videos, blog posts, photographs, and stories how our work has strengthened fatherhood since 1994.

At NFI, we know from decades of research that Fatherhood Changes Everything. From poverty, to crime, to academic achievement, to child abuse – every issue we care about is affected by whether or not a child has an involved, responsible, and committed father.

When we connect a father to his child, heart to heart, lives change, communities change, and our entire nation is the better for it.

Screen_Shot_2014-02-12_at_12.56.35_PMThis video reveals how NFI’s programs affect an individual life. Each video in this series was created from the book “Choosing Fatherhood: America’s Second Chance,” a photography book created by Lewis Kostiner. Lewis spent years going around the country, photographing dads who were going through NFI’s programs at community-based organizations in their neighborhoods. The result was a compelling photo essay telling the stories of dads working hard to make their children’s lives better.

In this video, we spotlight Wilburn Carver, who attended an NFI workshop in his community to help himself be the best dad he could be. Watch as he explains just how much he learned from his dad's example.

 Can't view the video? Click here.

"I grew up with my father. My mother and father divorced when I was about two or three. My mom ended up dying when I was about six or seven. My father remarried about a year after my mom passed. So I learned watching my father, how to take responsibility, not only to provide, but also to maintain the house. My father could sew, clean, cook, do dishes, iron, you know, as well as any woman that I ever seen. We have lots of men, primarily African-American men, who don't have fathers at home, and so they don't see that model. I think it's the culture of the society we live in, too, is not promoting family in the context in which we're talking about. It's promoting a single lifestyle, alternative lifestyle. I think one of the key things I've learned as a father with my daughter is to admit when I'm wrong and to apologize for hypocrisy." —Wilburn Carver (Seattle, Washington)

How has fatherhood changed you? 

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Alaska's Approach to InsideOut® Dad

I have been the Education Coordinator at Mat-Su Pretrial Facility in Palmer Alaska for over 15 years.

ak dep corr

I am passionate about providing parenting education for the fathers and fathers-to-be who are in our correctional institutions. While they are incarcerated, we as educators are afforded an incredible opportunity to make a difference in the lives of many young people/children and hopefully break the cycles that keep bringing men and women to our institutions.

Roughly 5 years ago, I ordered the InsideOut® Dad (IOD) program for the first time. In addition to my own desire to provide meaningful information to fathers, I had been tasked by our Deputy Director to find an evidence-based program for parenting that could be provided in all our Alaska facilities. The InsideOut® Dad program fit that bill and proved to be a worthwhile program. Even in pre-trial facilities, where stays are generally shorter, we were successful in having individuals complete the program prior to release.

A few years ago, I received a sample copy of the InsideOut® Dad Guide to Family Ties with my yearly InsideOut® Dad handbook purchase. I decided to try offering this shorter guide as a program in my pre-trial setting to see how it would be received and if I would have better luck getting completions before transfer with the Guide’s shorter time requirements. The guide was well received and because of the shorter time requirement I was able to “graduate” a greater percentage of individuals.  After achieving success in the pre-trial setting, I presented the idea of offering the InsideOut® Dad Guide to Family Ties in all of the pre-trials and short-term facilities to our Criminal Justice Planner (CJP) in charge of programs.  Prior to that, other short-term institutions or pre-trials were experiencing the same difficult issues maintaining class sizes for the extended lengths of time required for other program offerings.  The CJP agreed with my conclusion that this program would fit our needs and implemented the program into several of our facilities for the last two years. 

Scheduling
Alaska has 14 correctional facilities, 8 of those facilities provide education to pre-trial inmates and a few of those 8 facilities also provide sentenced housing and education. Several of the facilities providing education to pre-trial inmates are now using the InsideOut® Dad Guide to Family Ties, with more planning to begin this year. Classes are being scheduled from 2-4 times per week in 1.5 – 2 hr sessions. One educator stated: “The more condensed (scheduled more frequently) I make it the more constant the attendance, the higher the participant’s interest, and the higher the completion rate.” T.L.

In sentenced facilities, the InsideOut® Dad program (original and now v2) is offered. Most of those meet for class once per week for 1.5 – 2 hours for 10 weeks, 4 times per year. Generally they are focused on the core sessions but do offer some of the optional sessions, depending on the needs of the group.

Supplementing
The Alaska Domestic Violence Prevention Project has provided all of the Education Coordinators with a presentation and relevant DVDs on the effects of domestic violence on children as well as up-to-date information on ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) and the impact these things have on development, growth, physical health and success later in life. We supplement the domestic violence sections in the IOD curriculum with these materials. Some of the Education Coordinators have supplemented the program in the following ways:

“I may use videos or bring in birthday cards or anonymous general letters for examples. But I do find that some of the best supplements come from the group itself. For example, I had one participant who was both inventive and creative. He created cartoon characters and storylines that he and his young daughter collaborated on. He would often read them in class. This led some of the others to do the same.” T.L.

“I supplement with the Drew Bledsoe Foundation’s “Parenting With Dignity” interactive DVD.” F.Q.

“During the class I allow inmates the benefit of 6 free computer prints per month such as greeting cards, and letters home to spouse and children to reconnect and build upon the father/child and husband/wife relationships, and then discuss any positive outcomes in class.” L.L.

“I like using the family guide and add things from the other book plus supplement it with letters home, coloring pages for the guys to send home so little kids can draw and color for their dad. K.W.

“I do not add too much to the course other than various statistics and information I have heard from other resources on fatherhood. I often will add personal experiences I have had as well from my own experiences as a father.” A.H.

“We are using InsideOut® Dad with alterations for the female inmates.” D.K.

“We have designed an on-going class called Parenting Relationships where dads have an opportunity to come to education and use art supplies and computers to make cards, stories, puzzles and the like to continue to foster communication with their children. Many will just spend time coloring pages either from coloring books or printouts of their children’s favorite characters to send them.” K.S.

Favorite Aspects and Activities from the InsideOut Dad Program
Several things about the InsideOut® Dad program come up as favorites, but there is general overall agreement amongst our institutional educators about one aspect in particular. The most beneficial part of the program is the group discussion that takes place. Once the participants feel comfortable and open up about their family and their children, they come together almost as a team to help each other or provide different viewpoints on issues that individuals in the group face. It can be especially so if there is a mix of younger and older participants. One educator, T.L., shared, “I have had some of my older participants go through a second time just to add a mature factor to the mix. It helps the younger ones to focus on their children rather than complain about their partners. This helps all the participants problem solve and resolve issues.”

Other favored topics and activities include:

“The inmates really enjoy making the Paper Hugs. At first some are a bit shy about the activity, but when they see prior examples and hear about how the children have responded, they jump in. I take pictures of them and print out a life-size version of their head to attach to the traced upper body. It looks so realistic and the families really appreciate it. Some have sent pictures of the kids standing with the Paper Hug to the father.” K.S.

“Inmates enjoy making Paper Hugs and reading stories to their children. They read into a recorder, I then burn their story to a CD and mail it to their children where circumstances allow.” F.Q.

“I enjoy Session 7.4 on Fathering and Fun, and the amazing discussions and feedback from inmates concerning the diverse home life they experienced growing up.” L.L.

 “In the family ties book it speaks more towards working with the mothers which is something that we would talk a lot about with the first InsideOut® Dad booklet. But the family guide gives specific things and is more a guide line. It helps the guys see the topic isn't just me talking, it validates the need for cooperation.” K.W.

“I enjoy starting out the book with "My Story". It gets the inmates to open up and everyone else an opportunity to get to know each other through their past and the way our parents play such a huge role in our lives. I also enjoy (Session 10) "Working with Mom and Co-Parenting". It really makes a difference to raise children as a team instead of solo and I try to push that point.” V.S.

“I think that chapter 9 on discipline elicits the most thought and change. Many of my dads were raised punitively and think that is the way to discipline. They are surprised with the connection between discipline and disciple and that discipline implies learning instead of punishment. They also appreciate learning about other alternatives to discipline besides punishment. We spend a lot of time talking about how to use positive reinforcement and even what an effective time out looks like.” J.K.

Success Stories
The bottom-line in parenting education is to provide an opportunity and an environment that disseminates relevant and useful information, inspires growth, and effects change. IInsideOut® Dad programs appear to provide that opportunity and environment. Here are some of the heart warming results some of our educators have seen or heard about:

“We had one father who made an arrangement with his PO to read a book with his daughter over the phone once a month and discuss the story. This inmate had purchased a second copy of the book and sent it to his daughter.” L.L.

“I continue to see connections made and eyes opened when we discuss their experiences from childhood and relate that to what their children might be experiencing now. This is especially true when we look at the effects of domestic violence or traumatic experiences on their children. They state more resolve in their efforts to provide stability and nurture to their children.” K.S.

“One of my older participants wrote to his adult daughter after nearly twenty years of no contact.” T.L.

“The guys love hearing from their children when they receive the paper hugs and stories.” F.Q.

“I have had several inmates tell me that they got more from it (IOD) than any of the other program classes that they took. I had one inmate tell me it helped him keep a positive attitude. He said putting his young 1 year old daughter on his mind helped him focus on coming up with a plan for how he was going to stay out of trouble when he gets out. After finishing the class and getting a certificate he wanted to keep coming to class because he thought continuing to discuss parenting would be a good thing for him to do to help maintain a positive attitude. He came to the first 3 classes of the next session up to the point he was transferred.” A.H.

“We had a mother and daughter who were both incarcerated at the same time and took the parenting class (IOD adapted for women) together. At first, they didn’t want to talk much about the experiences they personally had and it became apparent that they had very different views on their mother-daughter relationship. The mother clearly thought she had been a good mother and the daughter disagreed. It was a fairly small class, only five inmates and that actually worked in favor of getting them to open up a bit more. I think the mother was truly surprised to hear that what her daughter thought. The mother had always been a “fun” parent who let the kids do anything and to hear her daughter say she wished she had had more structure was an eye-opener. I don’t want to claim that the class “healed” the relationship but it seemed to have thawed it a bit. After that they appeared to spend more time together around the facility where previously they had been pretty aloof towards each other. And a week or so ago, I saw them chatting in an aisle at Wal-Mart.” D.K.

Last thoughts
In Alaska correctional education we are continuing to fine-tune our parenting education. The administration is aware of and supportive of the important role that proper, healthy parenting has in breaking the cycle of recidivism, criminal activity and adverse childhood experiences. We have a unique opportunity to provide tools and information that can effect positive behavior change for adults and in turn for their children. The National Fatherhood Initiative has been and continues to be an important resource in this process. Thank you, National Fatherhood Initiative and happy parenting!

Acknowledgements
Thank you to the following institutions for the valuable feedback they provided for this article:
Anchorage Correctional Complex East
Fairbanks Correctional Center
Goose Creek Correctional Center
Ketchikan Correctional Center
Lemon Creek Correctional Center
Mat-Su Pre-trial Facility
Palmer Correctional Facility
Wildwood Correctional Center

From Kaye Saxon, Education Coordinator, Alaska Department of Corrections, Mat-Su Pretrial.

Celebrating 20 Years of Changing Fatherhood: Joshua Chiles (Video)

Fatherhood Changes Everything… And We’ve Changed Fatherhood!

20 year fatherhood changes everything

2014 is a special year for us at National Fatherhood Initiative. It marks our 20th year of working to “change fatherhood” by ending father absence and connecting fathers to their children.

To celebrate the fathers and families whose lives we’ve turned around, we are launching a series of videos, blog posts, photographs, and stories to highlight how our work has strengthened fatherhood since 1994.

At NFI, we truly believe that Fatherhood Changes Everything. From poverty, to crime, to school achievement, to child abuse – every issue we care about is affected by whether or not a child has an involved, responsible, and committed father. We are convinced that when we connect a father to his child, heart to heart, lives change, communities change, and our entire nation is transformed.

josh chiles

This video reveals how NFI’s programs affect an individual life. This is the second video in our “Fatherhood Changes Everything” series. Each video in this series was created from the book “Choosing Fatherhood: America’s Second Chance,” a photography book created by Lewis Kostiner. Lewis spent years going around the country, photographing dads who were going through NFI’s programs at community-based organizations in their neighborhoods. The result was a compelling photo essay telling the stories of dads working hard to make their children’s lives better.

In this video, we spotlight Josh Chiles, who attended an NFI workshop in his community to help himself be the best dad he could be. His powerful statement is a great reminder to dads about the vital role we play in the lives of our children and our society.

 Can't view the video? Click here.

"I get along with my father great. I try to have the same relationship with my kids. Sometimes, I'm not there as much as I'd like to be because of work. I remember, when I was a kid, it was always nice growing up. There's lots of kids that didn't have a stable family, and I think it's nice to grow up having both of your parents around. I think I learned a lot from having both my parents around and seeing them together, even the arguments, because that's a part of everybody's marriage. Nobody's perfect at parenting. Just be as good as you can be. That's it." —Joshua Chiles (Des Moines, Iowa)

How has fatherhood changed you? 

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