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How to Support This Unseen and Unsupported Group of Dads

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Mar 14, 2023


Do you serve dads who are in college? If so, you’ll undoubtedly benefit from recent research on the challenges they face and how to help them navigate those challenges.

Last June, I wrote about the unseen and unsupported population of student dads enrolled in our nation’s colleges. This population of one million drops out at rates significantly higher than student moms. They desperately need support that helps them parent so they can remain in school.

Knowing the challenges they face, and how to help them navigate those challenges, can go a long way to helping them remain in school. The challenges include:

  • A unique set of responsibilities
  • Handling these responsibilities as their brains are still developing (compared to women, men’s brains take longer to fully develop)
  • Struggling to meet their basic needs as they navigate college
  • Taking non-linear paths through higher education
  • To remain focused on higher education, they must first address their and their children’s basic needs
  • The time required to navigate systemic and organizational complexities, a resource which many of them have little of

 How can you help them address and overcome those challenges?

By connecting them to navigation services, a promising approach used in health care and child welfare that’s being piloted with parenting students in three communities as part of the Expanding Opportunities for Young Families initiative of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Navigation services in those communities are helping parents:

  • Traverse the complex and sometimes conflicting networks of support
  • Simplify processes by centralizing navigation services and resources in one location
  • Through centralized client management systems that connect regional organizations and institutions, helping programs make and track referrals

These services work best when they:

  • Holistically consider young parenting students’ roles as parents, students, and workers
  • Tailor support to the unique strengths and needs of parenting students
  • Use two-generation models to support students and their children
  • Use peer navigators with lived experience (i.e., current parenting students) to build programs centered on trust, connection, and advocacy

See whether the colleges that your student dads attend provide navigation services. If they do, connect the dads to them. If they don’t, use this blog article to raise the colleges’ awareness of those services and encourage them to build navigation services into their offerings for parenting students.

To learn more about the challenges student dads face and the promise of navigation services, I encourage you to download and share the research.

Are you aware of all the challenges faced by student dads?

What have you done to help student dads traverse those challenges?

he Benefits of Fatherhood Programs in Community-Based Organizations

Topics: father involvement in education, Featured, General Fatherhood Program Resources, General Fatherhood Research & Studies, dads in college, dads in trade school

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