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See How These Leaders Embraced Father-Inclusiveness in Their Community

Posted by Erik Vecere

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Oct 11, 2022
Participants in the San Bernardino Leadership Summit for Fatherhood (LSF).

How does a community embrace the inclusion of fathers in a community’s human service programs and services? Look no further than what leaders in San Bernardino County, California (CA) are doing.

I had the honor of facilitating a Leadership Summit for Fatherhood (LSF) in San Bernardino, CA on August 24thand 25th, 2022.

The LSF was coordinated by San Bernardino Fatherhood (SBF) whose mission is to eliminate fatherlessness in San Bernardino by promoting a culture of father inclusion and responsible fatherhood in its communities. Their mission will be accomplished in collaboration with local schools, community partners, faith-based organizations, and public and private agencies. SBF’s vision is to see a society where children thrive, families are stronger, and communities are safer as a result of responsible fathering.

The purpose of the LSF was to bring organizations and agencies together where SBF would collaborate in creating action plans to more effectively serve fathers in their community.

NFI's Chief Program Officer providing guidance on a Father-Friendly Action Plan.

SBF’s Executive Director Ryan Berryman said, “Recognizing many of the social problems in our community directly related to father absence and the ‘snail-like pace’ our community was making to effectively serve fathers, I reached out to Christopher Brown, president of National Fatherhood Initiative® (NFI). Mr. Brown suggested that for organizations and agencies to effectively serve fathers, they must first assess their own organizational structure for serving fathers by utilizing the Father Friendly Check-Up™ (FFCU). Hence, this inspired me to host and invite various organizations and agencies to our ‘LSF - A Call To Action!’”

LSF participants sharing stories about their fathers.

Thirty-four community leaders attended from city and county agencies, public and private educational agencies, and community and faith-based organizations.

On the first day, each participant completed the FFCU, which assessed their organization’s father-friendliness in the following 4 categories:

  • Leadership Development
    • The attitudes, beliefs, and values held by the organization’s employees—the culture of the organization—and its impact on the delivery of services and programs.
  • Organizational Development
    • The “nuts and bolts” of an organization that carries out its mission through organizational capacity as reflected in areas such as: 1) policies and procedures, 2) process, and 3) physical environment.
  • Program Development
    • The services and programs an organization offers, how it engages staff in offering them, and how it promotes and markets them.
  • Community Engagement
    • The ability of an organization to engage its community in the delivery of services and programs.

 On the second day, each participant used the results of their FFCU assessment to create an action plan that included low and no-cost strategies to increase the father-friendliness of their organization.

Participant feedback was overwhelmingly positive as seen in the following statements:

  • “The ability to network with other agencies and sharing of information and strategies during the breakout sessions was most helpful.”
  • “I think it was great.”
  • “I really enjoyed the Father Friendly Check-Up™. It is helpful to know where the organizations are at.”
  • “It was great information and application!”
  • “Great information, good balance between information and interactions.”
  • “Excellent training and great insight.”
  • “I enjoyed the interacting and networking.”

SBF plans to build off of the LSF in three areas:

1) To collaborate within the next six months with another community-based organization to offer NFI’s Understanding Dad program for moms.

2) To partner or collaborate with the San Bernardino County’s Children and Family Services agency in offering the evidence-based 24/7 Dad® program to fathers in child welfare, with the long range goal (approximately one-year) of creating a 24/7 Dad® Alumni Program.

3)  To have an annual LSF that will build capacity and increase collaboration with organizations and agencies in effectively serving fathers, children, and families in their community.

(From left to right) Erik Vecere, (Chief Program Officer, National Fatherhood Initiative), Ryan Berryman, (Executive Director, San Bernardino Fatherhood), Joe Baca, Jr. (San Bernardino County, Board of Supervisor), Juan C. Solis, (Father Engagement Coordinator, Children's Network), Abel Zaragoza (Fatherhood Specialist, San Bernardino Fatherhood), Edward Tolda, (Volunteer, San Bernardino Fatherhood).

When asked why SBF chose NFI to facilitate the event, Mr. Berryman said, “That’s a no brainer! NFI has been around for almost 30 years offering fatherhood services to individuals and organizations throughout the nation. NFI is well-known for being an expert in fatherhood programs in meeting the needs of dads, moms, and children. Additionally, I have been using NFI’s programs (i.e. 24/7 Dad® and 24/7 Dad® Key Behaviors Workshop) for over five years and have come to realize they are one of the best in offering educational programs that I can deliver to the fathers and families in my community. I strongly believe if anyone is serious about starting a fatherhood program, NFI is the best way to go!”

Does your community offer father-specific events like San Bernardino’s LSF?

If so, how can your organization become a more active participant in that event?

If not, can you identify agencies and organizations to partner with who could coordinate a father-specific event for your community?

7 steps to starting a successful fatherhood program

Topics: fatherhood program planning, responsible fatherhood, program planning, father engagement, Featured, General Fatherhood Program Resources, NFI-Specific Programs & Resources, father inclusive

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