To build capacity in communities to increase the involvement of fathers in the lives of their children, it’s important to not only increase the capacity of organizations that serve fathers and families. It’s also important to build capacity in the public and private entities that fund those organizations. Doing so helps ensure these funders develop a long-term focus on and commitment to father engagement.
That’s why National Fatherhood Initiative® (NFI) builds the capacity of local and state government agencies to provide the direction and resources (e.g. funds) that help their partners (e.g. grantees) engage fathers more effectively.
Our recent work with government agencies includes:
- The Washington D.C. Housing Authority
- The Richmond City (VA) Health Department
- The Tennessee Department of Human Services
- The Kansas Department for Children and Families
We’re currently working to build the capacity of the Iowa Department of Human Services, the Maryland Department of Health, and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to increase the involvement of fathers in their children’s lives.
How do we build this capacity? Here’s how.
Strategic Planning and Capacity Assessment
NFI has extensive experience in helping government agencies develop and implement strategic plans on father engagement and assess their own and their partners’ (e.g. direct-service providers they fund) capacity to engage fathers effectively.
1. The Father Engagement Experience™ (FEE): NFI facilitates strategic planning sessions for agencies and partners to help them start and maintain a new or improve an existing fatherhood program or initiative.
The FEE is an invigorating, interactive, in-person strategic planning session led by NFI staff. The agency/partner begins by using NFI's design process to determine the main focus of the session(s) and what will be accomplished. With that as a starting point, the NFI facilitator uses storyboards, Pure Form Thinking (e.g. not mixing use of the left and right sides of the brain), and multi-voting tactics to help design strategies for increasing father engagement.
A customized Father Engagement Game Plan™ containing all of the FEE group ideas and decisions for taking action on increasing father engagement.
2. The Father-Readiness Network Assessment™ (FRNA): NFI assesses the ability of agencies (e.g. local offices) and partners (e.g. contract service providers) to effectively engage fathers in programs and services.
NFI uses an online version of its copyrighted, trademarked Father Friendly Check-Up™ (FFCU) to help agencies/partners measure their network's level of father engagement at micro and/or macro levels. In it, we look at how well each site/office engages fathers in programs and services, and whether the culture of each site/office is well suited for effectively engaging fathers.
The FFCU consists of four parts or “assessment categories”:
- Leadership Development
- Organizational Development
- Program Development
- Community EngagementThe Result?
A comprehensive, customized assessment report with a numeric score for each assessment category for each site/office and/or the entire network, thus creating a clear picture of how father friendly each site/office is specifically and the entire network is generally. NFI can also provide ongoing technical assistance on implementing a strategic plan.
Community Mobilization and Implementation of Evidence-Based Programs
3. The Community Mobilization Approach™ (CMA): NFI brings together leaders and professionals from all sectors of your community with the common goal of mobilizing around responsible fatherhood. NFI has conducted the CMA with groups (e.g. organizations, government agencies, and coalitions) at the city, county, and state levels.
NFI staff guides groups through three CMA mobilization phases to facilitate a multi-sector initiative:
- A Needs and Assets Assessment
- A Leadership Summit on Fatherhood
- Anchoring the Initiative with a Community Action Plan
The formation of a multi-sector collaborative that drives and guides a city/county/state fatherhood initiative with buy-in from across sectors, a strategic plan that mobilizes each sector and includes comprehensive tactics to promote responsible fatherhood, and a greater awareness in the city/county/state about the importance of involving dads in the lives of their children.
4. Training agencies and partners in the following ways:
- Establishing use of NFI’s evidence-based and evidence-informed programs across a city/county/state, which facilitates process and impact evaluation (i.e. evaluating the same program implemented in multiple locations)
- Integrating engaging fathers in a specific effort (e.g. home visits, child welfare, and reentry from prison)
Measurable, sustainable, and effective broad-based and program-specific father engagement and involvement effort.
All of this talk of large-scale projects to better engage fathers might leave you wondering how government agencies fund their work with NFI. Agencies use their own discretionary funds or pass-through state or federal funds to acquire NFI programs, resources, training, and technical assistance. Agencies also include NFI programs, resources, training, and technical assistance in annual budgets and in proposals to potential funders.
Examples of pass-through funding sources include:
- Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP)
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
- Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV)
- Child Support (Title IV-D)
- Education (Elementary and Secondary Education Act: Title 1)
- Second Chance Act
In closing, we’d be remiss if, as a national organization, we only built the capacity of organizations that provide direct services to fathers and families. When we work at a city, county, or state agency level, it creates large-scale, sustainable, system-wide change that helps fathers become more involved in their children’s lives, which ultimately benefits children, families, and communities.
Are you aware of all the ways in which NFI builds the capacity of government agencies and their partners?
How might your agency or organization work with NFI in one or more of these ways?