If you’re seeking to write a grant for fatherhood related funding or are simply looking to educate your community around involved fathers, start by gathering, understanding, and communicating the facts of father absence and the benefits of father involvement.
The best place to start gathering this sort of data is by learning about national facts and what’s happening with the fatherhood movement nationwide. To find this data, as you may already know, you can turn to National Fatherhood Initiative’s Father Facts™ publication, currently in its 7th Edition. New to this edition, we’ve added state-level data on father absence.
In addition to FatherFacts™, there are several other data sources you can call on to find out more father facts specific to your state and community. One excellent source is the United States Census Bureau.
To find data for your state, county, or city data, go to https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST045217 and enter your city, state, zip code, etc. then select which fact you are seeking. This website will give you basic demographic data useful for grant writing, such as median household income, percentage of households in poverty, percentage of children under 18 years old, and the racial/ ethnic background of your community. You can then drill down further into the data by selecting a topic from the table that is presented.
At the very minimum in your data gathering efforts, you should be able to provide information for the most recent year in your community about:
- Rate of father absence (specifically, the proportion of children under 18 growing up without a biological, step, or adoptive father). To calculate this rate, divide the number of female-headed households with children under 18 by the total number of families with children under 18.
- Births to married dads
- Out-of-wedlock births
- Marriage and divorce rates
You might also want to compile trend data—the same data over the past 5-10 years and over the past several decades. This will tell you whether father absence, out-of-wedlock childbearing, marriage, and divorce rates are going up, down, or stabilizing. The most persuasive data reports rates per thousand. You can report, for example, the number of marriages and divorces per thousand people living in your community.
Finding Other, More Specific Father Facts
As you well know, there are as many kinds of fathers as there are types of pies. You can use many variables to “slice up” and describe dads who are fathering in different situations. The following covers some of the typical ways in which you can categorize fathers and where you can find data on them. Before you start to gather information on dads, identify the variables you will use that make the most sense for your community.
- Child-support Dads. Your local office of child support enforcement should be able to provide you with trend data about fathers in your community paying child support. They are required to compile this data under federal law. You can find out the number of fathers paying child support, the number not paying child support, and how much money is owed (known as “arrears”) by all of the fathers not paying child support. You might also want to compile trend data—the same data over the past 5–10 years and over the past several decades.
- Non-custodial Dads. Your local office of child support enforcement is probably the best resource for gathering data on fathers living in your community who do not have primary custody of their children.
- Single Dads. For data on single dads, contact the office of child support enforcement in your state or community. Sometimes this information is also available through the U.S. Census Bureau or through your state office of vital statistics.
- Incarcerated Dads. For data on dads from your community in federal prison, contact the U.S. Department of Justice. Data on dads in state prisons might be kept by your state department of corrections. Data on dads in county prisons might be kept by a county department of corrections or sheriff’s office. Sometimes your state or county office of child support enforcement will know how many fathers from your community are incarcerated.
- Military Dads. If you have a military base in your community, you can bet that some dads will be deployed, and for those not yet deployed, it is likely that they will soon deploy. Because of privacy issues and other military policies, it might be difficult to get specific data on military fathers. Talk with the family-support personnel on base and ask what you can do to help. To find information about your local active duty installation’s family program, you can visit the websites of the military branches (www.army.mil, www.af.mil, www.navy.mil, or www.marines. mil). Additionally, it is likely that there is a National Guard or Reserve Unit in or near your community. You can find out more about family programs for Reserve or National Guard dads by looking in the government section of your phone book, or searching websites for military families, such as the National Guard Bureau Family Program (www.guardfamily.org) or the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs (www.defenselink.mil/ra).
- Stepdads. Few communities, unfortunately, have a way of accurately reporting statistics on stepfathers. We suggest seeking out an organization in your community that might provide assistance to stepfamilies. Such an organization might have an estimate of the number of stepdads in your community. For national data on stepdads, contact the Stepfamily Association of America (www.stepfam.org).
- Grandads. The U.S. Census Bureau can provide data on the number of children in your community living with a grandparent. Search the bureau site using the keyword “grandparents.” You can find the latest data on the number of grandchildren living with both grandparents (grandmother and grandfather). If you want data on children raised only by their grandfather, you should talk with someone at the bureau to see if that data is available.
- Married Dads. The U.S. Census Bureau can also provide data on the number of children in your community living with a married dad.