Planning for, and starting a fatherhood program can seem daunting. Perhaps overwhelming. But we're here to help.
Over the next 7 weeks, I will cover the 7 Steps to Starting a Successful Fatherhood Program. Whether you're looking to do something small or large, these tips will no doubt set you on the right path to better engage fathers.
So let's get started with Step 1: Making the Case for a Fatherhood Program.
Step 1 is to use father absence data and research to support your program recommendation (to your boss, upper management, your board, your funders, etc.) so as to "make the case" for a fatherhood program. It's not often that people argue with research (well, sometimes they do). But the good news is that there is research in droves around the effects of father absence and the benefits of father involvement for children.
It's likely that your organization is already addressing the needs of families in your community that are, in part, linked to father absence - things like poverty, health, and educational success.
Adding a fatherhood component
to your programs and services
can only increase the success
of the work you're already doing.
Father engagement (through programs and services specifically for fathers) is like the missing piece of the puzzle: if you keep trying to solve a puzzle but you're missing a piece, you'll never be able to finish it. Engaging fathers is an extremely important piece of the puzzle for child and family well-being.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 million children in America – one out of three – live without their biological father in the home. This means there is a father factor in nearly all of the societal ills facing America today. Research shows when a child is raised in a father-absent home, he or she is affected in many ways. Children are more likely to have behavioral problems, more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, two times more likely to suffer obesity, and two times more likely to drop out of high school… and more.
There is a father factor in nearly all
societal ills facing America today.
How you address this issue matters.
Father absence data will help you educate others on the importance of father involvement, and how father involvement is at the base of numerous societal issues that community organizations and social service agencies are seeking to combat or solve. This is a natural lead into taking action to better engage fathers in your daily work.
Father involvement/father absence data also helps you write stronger grant proposals and bolster support for your program in your community. By demonstrating the need and the benefits, you can make an even stronger plea.
Finally, father involvement/father absence data can also inform your mission, and help establish goals you may want to reach to demonstrate marked improvement in your community as a result of your work.
There is plenty of research and statistics available on the positive effects of father involvement and negative effects of father absence, just do a quick search on the web. If you'd like a quick-reference resource, NFI publishes an ebook called Father Facts 7, the nation's leading reference manual for anyone interested in promoting responsible fatherhood. It provides tons of data on father absence and father involvement.
The bottom line is: do your research. Make your case.
If you'd like to learn more about starting a fatherhood program, you can download our full eBook How to Start a Direct Service Fatherhood Program or The Benefits of Fatherhood Programs in Community-Based Organizations eBook.
Stay tuned for next week when I cover Step 2: Assessing your Organization's Father Friendliness.