You may feel like the Lone Ranger when it comes to engaging dads in your organization’s programs and services, but remember – even the Lone Ranger needed Tonto. You will only get so far unless other staff see the need to intentionally engage dads. So, how can you get staff to “buy-in”? Here are a few approaches to ignite a fire for father engagement in your organization.
- Help staff understand the influential role their dad played in their life – Adding activities to staff trainings and meetings is a great way to raise awareness of their dad’s influence. For example, give each person 3 pipe cleaners and ask them to make a symbol or an object that represents their dad. Your staff will experience powerful emotions that will help them see why their work with dads is so important. Help female staff understand how the relationship with their dad and other men affects their motivation to engage dads. Mom As Gateway™ and Understanding Dad™ are filled with activities you can facilitate with female staff.
- Help staff integrate father involvement into existing tasks – Staff may see the need to engage dads, but feel overwhelmed with their current responsibilities. Help them understand they don’t have to take on more tasks to engage dads – they can integrate fatherhood into what they already do. For example, if they work with moms, they can raise moms’ awareness of the important role dads play in the lives of their children. Those moms are a referral network of dads waiting to be tapped.
- Get involved in other programs and services your organization offers – Make yourself available to assist with programs and services your organization offers outside of your fatherhood program. If your organization offers home visiting services, for example, join parent educators on their visits and talk to the families about your fatherhood program. If your organization has a program for single moms, keep an eye out for opportunities to refer moms to that program. Then, staff connected with the single moms’ program will be more apt to refer dads to your program.
- Have staff complete the Father Friendly Check-Up™ – Getting staff buy-in for father engagement goes beyond appreciating its value to your overall mission – it requires intentionality. The Father Friendly Check-Up™ is a free tool that helps staff assess the father-friendliness of your organization and provides them with specific things they can do to engage dads.
- Include father engagement in staff performance reviews – Adding father engagement to performance reviews is a great way to motivate staff to engage dads, especially if they want to advance and earn more money. Moreover, it communicates that your organization takes serving dads seriously.
- Celebrate successes – Capture stories of impact, not only from dads, but from moms and children, too. The more staff sees how father engagement makes a positive difference in families’ lives, the more motivated they will be to support the fatherhood work.
Father engagement plays a major role in your organization’s ability to increase positive family outcomes. By deploying the above approaches, you will not only help your staff embrace father engagement, but also see the part they play in making it a reality.
On a scale from 1-10 (with 10 being highest), how would you rate your staff’s overall buy-in of father engagement?
Which of the above approaches makes the most sense for you to start with?