Last week, I attended the Care Net Pregnancy Resource Center conference where I met hundreds of wonderful people working with women and men in the midst of crisis pregnancies.
When I asked them, "How are You Working with Fathers?" I received a variety of responses from, "Well, we aren't, really", to "We want to, but don't know how", to "We have a Fatherhood Program Coordinator on staff."
And no matter what kind of social work your organization does, I am sure - if asked - I could receive similar answers.
While having a fatherhood program coordinator on staff is viewed as a luxury for many non-profits with a small budget, it wasn't just by chance that the ones with full-fledged fatherhood programs got to the point of actually being able to hire a staff member for this role. They got there by starting with an intentional assessment of their organization, budgeting and planning for how they would involve fathers, and diligence with a focus on ensuring they involve fathers alongside everything they offer for mothers.
Father involvement is critical for your organization, and if you aren't sure whether you agree, be sure to check out the research and statistics on the consequences of father absence. Getting fathers involved is essential for happy, healthy, well-adjusted children and families. When dads aren't involved, children are more likely to engage in drugs, alcohol, violent crimes, and other harmful behaviors, drop out of school, live in poverty, face teenage pregnancy, and struggle with depression or even commit suicide.
One of the best ways to get started in becoming a father-friendly organization is to make use of our Free Father Friendly Check-Up™ Tool.
This simple assessment (using a likert scale) allows you to analyze your physical environment, location, organizational philosophies, staff attitudes, and more. We recommend that your leadership, as well as each staff member, fill out the Check-Up. The comparative results may surprise you!
Many many organizations have already used the Father Friendly Check-Up™ to successfully asses their operations, and overhauled the way in which they intentionally provide offerings for, and equip, fathers to be the best dads they can be.
Check out several Case Studies below showing how organizations working with fathers and families - just like you - transformed their work with fathers after taking the Father Friendly Check-Up™:
- Pregnancy Care Center, Witchita, KS > Historically served mothers, with little or no outreach to fathers. Now offers several classes for fathers including NFI’s 24/7 Dad™ and Doctor Dad™.
- The Children's Institue > Serves children with special needs and their families. Now offers NFI’s Doctor Dad™ and use Boyz to Dads™.
- Clinical Outcomes Group > Created county-wide Fatherhood Task Force to raise awareness of the importance of fathers and began running NFI’s 24/7 Dad™ for organizations.
- Community Action Inc. > Now provides enhanced parenting and fathering skills while helping them develop job skills. Uses several NFI curricula including The 7 Habits of a 24/7 Dad™ and Understanding Domestic Violence™ workshops.
And remember: Success comes after planning, and planning after assessing. Take this first step toward finding the best way for your organization to serve fathers in a "friendly" way. Then come back to learn How to Start a Fatherhood Initiative.