Father Involvement

Menstuff® has information on Father Involvement.

Underlying many of society's most pressing challenges is a lack of father involvement in their children's lives. Our goal is for every child to be able to grow up with an involved, responsible, and committed father and create a world in which every child has a 24/7 Dad. This can be done by transforming organizations and communities by equipping them to intentionally and proactively engage fathers in their children's lives.

Father Involvement Program
Parental Resilience
Social connections
Knowledge of parenting and child development
Concrete support in times of need
Social and emotional competence of children
Charaacteristics of selected father-involvement intervention programs
Resources

Father Involvement Program


“It's (Dads Matter! Project) very cost-effective. It’s good service, and you're using a very efficient way of bringing people in and empowering them to be part of the whole process. This project highlights the needs of fathers and helps create a support system for them.” — Cynthia Thompson, Executive Director, Children’s Trust Fund of Oregon

"As a result of the (Dads Matter) program, we have seen an increase in father involvement in our programs as well as throughout the agency. For example, fathers are feeling more "at home" getting involved in their child's direct care at our agency, but also volunteering to complete projects and participate in additional events such as fundraising and our building renovation. This project encourages interpersonal support and gets people together.” — Tami Walters, Executive Director, Mighty Oaks Children’s Therapy Center, OR.
Source: www.downtoearthdad.org/default.asp

Strengthening Families and The 5 Protective Factors Series: Parental Resilience


Strengthening Families™ is a research-informed approach to increase family strengths, enhance child development, and reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect. It is based on engaging families, programs, and communities in building five protective factors:

  • Parental resilience
  • Social connections
  • Knowledge of parenting and child development
  • Concrete support in times of need
  • Social and emotional competence of children

Using the Strengthening Families™ framework, more than 30 states are shifting policy and practice to help programs working with children and families focus on protective factors. States apply the Strengthening Families approach in early childhood, child welfare, child abuse prevention, and other child and family serving systems.

The Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) leads the charge in the spread of the framework across the country. CSSP acknowledges that more work needs to be done by those who use the framework to intentionally engage fathers to draw on fathers’ strengths in building the factors and meet their needs.

As a consequence, National Fatherhood Initiative® collaborated with CSSP to create a brief (part of CSSP’s Making the Link series of briefs) that maps how NFI’s resources help build each of the protective factors. CSSP will distribute the brief to states and others that use the framework. (Click here to view and download the brief from the Free Resources section of NFI’s website.)

This post is the first in a five-part series that highlights each of the factors and how NFI’s resources can help those who use the framework to build the factors in their community through more effective engagement of fathers.

Each post includes more detail on each factor than in the brief.

Parental Resilience

Parental resilience is defined by CSSP as “The ability to manage and bounce back from all types of challenges that emerge in every family’s life. It means finding ways to solve problems, building and sustaining trusting relationships including relationships with your own child, and knowing how to seek help when necessary.”

Key to building this resilience is addressing parents’ individual developmental history, psychological resources, and capacity to empathize with self and others. Programs and resources that rely on Attachment Theory create the pro-social connections necessary to develop parental resilience. Because so many parents who abuse and neglect children were abused and neglected themselves, they became parents void of quality intimate relationships with their own parents or caregivers. These parents find it difficult to develop positive attachments to their own children.

Father-specific resources address this factor because fathers who abuse and neglect their children, or who are at risk to abuse and neglect, have unique developmental needs compared to mothers. They moved through a different developmental trajectory. Because many of these fathers lacked involved fathers or positive male role models, they did not develop positive attachments to their fathers and other men. They also did not develop pro-fathering attitudes and values, chief among them attitudes and values associated with healthy masculinity. Masculinity is the primary framework upon which the male psyche is constructed.

All of NFI’s father-involvement programs use Attachment Theory as part of their multi-theoretical framework. Programs like 24/7 Dad® and InsideOut Dad® create positive attachments between fathers, their children, and other adults (e.g. the mothers of their children) by teaching fathers how to effectively nurture themselves (e.g. through sessions on greater care of their own physical and mental health) and others (e.g. through sessions on child development and communication) in ways that fathers understand.

These programs lay the foundation for a future of healthy attachment with children when used with expectant fathers. Doctor Dad® , for example, increases fathers’ self-efficacy in basic healthcare and safety of infants and toddlers. As a result, it increases fathers’ ability to bond with their children through greater involvement in their children’s care.

Moreover, because facilitators deliver these programs in a group setting, fathers create pro-social connections/attachments with caring facilitators and other fathers. These bonds deepen as the programs progress to completion. They also learn to empathize with others through the mutual sharing of emotionally and spiritually intimate stories and experiences.
Source: www.fatherhood.org/fatherhood/5-protective-factors-parental-resilience

Strengthening Families and The 5 Protective Factors Series: Social Connections


Last week I introduced you to a collaboration between National Fatherhood Initiative® and the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) to create a brief that raises awareness among states and others that use the Strengthening Families™ approach to increase family strengths, enhance child development, and reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect. (Click here to view and download the brief from the Free Resources section of NFI’s website.)

The approach is based on engaging families, programs, and communities in building five protective factors:

  • Parental resilience
  • Social connections
  • Knowledge of parenting and child development
  • Concrete support in times of need
  • Social and emotional competence of children

This post is the second in a five-part series that highlights each of the factors and how NFI’s resources can help those who use the framework to build the factors in their community through more effective engagement of fathers. (Click here to read the post on parental resilience.)

Each post includes more detail on each factor than in the brief.

Social Connections

About social connections CSSP states, “Friends, family members, neighbors and community members provide emotional support, help solve problems, offer parenting advice and give concrete assistance to parents. Networks of support are essential to parents and also offer opportunities for people to ‘give back’, an important part of self-esteem as well as a benefit for the community. Isolated families may need extra help in reaching out to build positive relationships.”

Many of NFI’s programs include sessions that build the relationship skills essential to fathers effectively connecting with others (adults and children). Father-specific programs and resources are particularly important to developing emotionally- and spiritually-intimate social connections because, compared to women, most men are raised to build networks for the exchange of material goods and information. Their networks do not provide the level of emotional and spiritual support they need to reduce the risk of child abuse and neglect.

NFI’s programs create bonds between fathers and facilitators and among fathers through delivery in a group setting. NFI understands that these powerful connections can and should live beyond the end of father-involvement programs. We provide technical assistance and training to organizations on creating “alumni programs” in which fathers who complete a program can continue to interact formally—by participating in one or more additional programs that further build their pro-fathering skills, attitudes, and knowledge—or informally, such as by volunteering to help the host organization conduct community events and recruit other fathers into programs.

This continued engagement of fathers after a program ends further deepens fathers’ social connections by keeping them engaged in a positive environment/network, a particular challenge when working with fathers who have been socially isolated or involved in networks characterized by anti-social behavior. NFI compiled its knowledge about alumni programs into the free downloadable Creating an Alumni Program for Graduates of a Fatherhood Program: A Guide with Tips and Advice . It features, among other things, model alumni programs in different settings.

A critical component of helping parents create social connections is the ability of a community to provide an environment that nurtures those connections. NFI created the Community Mobilization Approach (CMA) that trains organizations and community leaders from across sectors to mobilize their communities to address father absence and increase father involvement (e.g. through broad-based and sector-specific fatherhood initiatives). NFI has implemented the CMA (or consulted on its implementation) in a diversity of communities (e.g. urban and rural). Implementation of the CMA has resulted in many long-standing fatherhood initiatives (e.g. the Milwaukee Fatherhood Initiative).

NFI works alongside community leaders to implement a three-phase process that comprises the CMA. The process involves participatory research, planning, and implementation, and it produces a customized community action plan. Leaders build, implement, and own the plan, a vital outcome for successful community-wide efforts that address social challenges. This plan facilitates the development of community-wide social connections and supports for fathers.

Look next week for the third post in this series.
Source: www.fatherhood.org/fatherhood/5-protective-factors-social-connections

Strengthening Families and The 5 Protective Factors Series: Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development


During the past two weeks, I have blogged about a collaboration between National Fatherhood Initiative® and the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) to create a brief that raises awareness among states and others that use the Strengthening Families™ approach to increase family strengths, enhance child development, and reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect.

Strengthening Families and The 5 Protective Factors Series Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development.jpg

The approach is based on engaging families, programs, and communities in building five protective factors:

  • Parental resilience
  • Social connections
  • Knowledge of parenting and child development
  • Concrete support in times of need
  • Social and emotional competence of children

This post is the third in a five-part series that highlights each of the factors and how NFI’s resources can help those who use the framework to build the factors in their community through more effective engagement of fathers. (Click here for the post on parental resilience and here for the post on social connections.)

Each post includes more detail on each factor than in the brief.

Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development

About this factor CSSP says, “Accurate information about child development and appropriate expectations for children’s behavior at every age help parents see their children and youth in a positive light and promote their healthy development.”

The importance of helping fathers to learn appropriate parenting skills and child development information cannot be overstated. Interventions that focus on fathers are critical because fathers are not “raised to raise children.” Families and American culture in general (and many sub-cultures including those that demark immigrant enclaves in many major U.S. cities) do not adequately prepare boys and young men in the care of children. Fathers should be involved in the care of their children from the moment their children are born.

CSSP goes on to say that parenting and child development information is “most effective when it comes at the precise time parents need it to understand their own children. Parents who experienced harsh discipline or other negative childhood experiences may need extra help to change the parenting patterns they learned as children.”

NFI’s programs focus on building the parenting skills of fathers. One of the most important of these skills is proper discipline of children. Fathers learn, for example, the difference between punishment and discipline, to know when to discipline and when to punish, and to rely primarily on discipline.

Fathers also receive extensive information on child development at all stages of a child’s life (i.e. at the precise time they need it based on their children’s ages). One of the signature resources in NFI’s programs is the Ages and Stages of Child Development Charts that informs fathers about the physical, social, and emotional milestones children should reach by specific ages. A unique feature of these charts is a list of actions fathers can take to help their children reach milestones. NFI has turned these charts into Help Me Grow Guides for mass distribution by organizations and created an online, interactive version of the charts called Countdown to Growing Up™: A Growth and Development Tracker that fathers can use to track their children’s growth and identify questions they might have for their children’s pediatrician/family doctor.

Look next week for the fourth post in this series.
Source: www.fatherhood.org/fatherhood/5-protective-factors-parental-knowledge

Strengthening Families and The 5 Protective Factors Series: Concrete Support


During the past three weeks, I have blogged about a collaboration between National Fatherhood Initiative® and the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) to create a brief that raises awareness among states and others that use the Strengthening Families™ approach to increase family strengths, enhance child development, and reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect.

Strengthening Families and The 5 Protective Factors Series Concrete Support.png

The approach is based on engaging families, programs, and communities in building five protective factors:

  • Parental resilience
  • Social connections
  • Knowledge of parenting and child development
  • Concrete support in times of need
  • Social and emotional competence of children

This post is the fourth in a five-part series that highlights each of the factors and how NFI’s resources can help those who use the framework to build the factors in their community through more effective engagement of fathers. (Click here for the post on parental resilience, here for social connections, and here for knowledge of parenting and child development.)

Each post includes more detail on each factor than in the brief.

Concrete Support in Times of Need

About concrete support CSSP emphasizes, “Meeting basic economic needs like food, shelter, clothing and health care is essential for families to thrive.”

Father-specific programs and resources are necessary to adequately address this factor because fathers, and men in general, are reluctant to seek help for their basic needs, much less to admit they have them. As noted in an earlier post in this series, Doctor Dad® helps fathers meet the basic health care needs necessary for their children to thrive and through teaching techniques that are particularly effective with men (e.g. hands-on learning and demonstration supported by visual aids).

CSSP points out that family poverty is the factor most strongly correlated with child abuse and neglect. Families need concrete support to prevent them from or lift them out of poverty. Research shows that father absence places children and families at greater risk of poverty. Therefore, any effort addresses this factor when that effort connects fathers with their children to prevent and intervene on father absence.

NFI recognizes, however, that meeting the basic needs of families (especially those at risk for or living in poverty) is beyond the scope of father-specific programs and resources. Therefore, NFI provides technical assistance and training to help organizations understand the basic needs faced by specific populations of fathers and the importance of integrating father-involvement efforts into the services organizations provide that help families meet their basic economic needs.

Incarcerated fathers are one of the specific populations of fathers NFI helps organizations to serve, primarily through the InsideOut Dad® program. These fathers often struggle with meeting their own and their families’ basic economic needs before and after incarceration.

In 2010, NFI completed The Connections Project, an 18-month federally-funded initiative that involved training on InsideOut Dad® and produced several resources that build the capacity of state and local corrections systems and direct-service providers to better understand the basic needs of formerly-incarcerated fathers for successful reentry into society. Among the resources NFI produced was a free guide that covered eight critical, basic needs necessary for successful reentry (e.g. housing and employment). The guide highlighted best-practice models from around the country and tips that addressed each of the needs.

CSSP goes on to say about this factor, “When families encounter a crisis such as domestic violence, mental illness or substance abuse, adequate services and supports need to be in place to provide stability, treatment and help for family members to get through the crisis.”

NFI provides crisis-focused resources like the Understanding Domestic Violence™ booster session that organizations can use as a stand-alone offering or complement to father-involvement programs. This booster session raises awareness among fathers of the signs that they, or fathers they know, might be at risk for, or engaged in, domestic violence.

Look next week for the fifth and final post in this series.
Source: www.fatherhood.org/fatherhood/5-protective-factors-series-support

Strengthening Families and The 5 Protective Factors Series: Social & Emotional Competence of Children


During the past four weeks, I have blogged about a collaboration between National Fatherhood Initiative® and the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) to create a brief that raises awareness among states and others that use the Strengthening Families™ approach to increase family strengths, enhance child development, and reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect.

The approach is based on engaging families, programs, and communities in building five protective factors:

  • Parental resilience
  • Social connections
  • Knowledge of parenting and child development
  • Concrete support in times of need
  • Social and emotional competence of children

Strengthening Families and The 5 Protective Factors Series Social & Emotional Competence of Children copy.jpg

This is the final post in a five-part series that highlights each of the factors and how NFI’s resources can help those who use the framework to build the factors in their community through more effective engagement of fathers.

(Click here for the post on parental resilience, here for social connections, and here for knowledge of parenting and child development and here for concrete support in times of need.)

Each post includes more detail on each factor than in the brief.

Social and Emotional Competence of Children

About this factor CSSP says, “The social and emotional development of young children plays a critical role in their cognitive skill building, social competence, mental health, and overall wellbeing. The nature of this development is deeply affected by the quality of a child’s relationships with his or her primary attachment figures, usually parents. Healthy development is threatened when families of young children face multiple problems and stressors.”

Father-specific resources address the unique contribution of fathers to the social and emotional development of children. Fathers serve, for example, as a role model for boys and a relational model for girls.

CSSP goes on to point out, “Social and emotional development [is] highly dependent on the quality of a young child’s primary relationships…it is increasingly common to encounter infants and young children whose attachment to a primary caregiver has been severely limited, disrupted, or arrested. These children are at risk for serious development problems…”

These facts are not lost on the thousands of practitioners that NFI has trained through the years. They include practitioners in corrections, education, military, workplace, government, and non-profit settings to name a few.

These facts are also not lost on researchers who have studied the negative impact of father absence and concluded that father involvement is critical to child well-being. NFI’s programs and resources combat father absence, pure and simple. In doing so they help children develop social and emotional competence through increased and competent father involvement, thus reducing children’s stressors and the risk of limited, disrupted, or arrested attachments to their primary caregivers that lead to short- and long-term developmental problems.

As a way to further address this factor, NFI has created mother-specific resources that address the relationships between fathers and mothers. The most significant relationship in a child’s life is the relationship between his or her mother and father. This relationship is the blueprint a child follows for developing his or her own relationships. Improving this relationship is critical to prevent disruptions between children and their primary caregivers and to intervene and repair after disruptions. Because mothers are most often the primary caregiver of children—and certainly in cases where the parents are not romantically involved or living together—they need resources that help them better understand the importance of father involvement in the lives of their children and how to effectively co-parent.

NFI’s Mom as Gateway™ booster session was NFI’s first foray into this arena, and it has been extremely well received with several thousand organizations acquiring it. It helps mothers understand “maternal gatekeeping” behavior and, in doing so, become more willing to accept increased father involvement as long as it is safe for them and their children.

Because of the popularity of this booster session, NFI developed Understanding Dad™, a program that helps mothers address maternal gatekeeping behavior in a more comprehensive manner. The program also builds practical communication skills mothers can use to improve the relationship they have with the father of their children.

NFI has also developed resources for mothers in the form of tip cards and “pocketbook” guides for mass distribution by organizations.
Source: www.fatherhood.org/fatherhood/5-protective-factors-series-children?utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=38446357&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_pUjdLpQRMm3_luiOuEMCvwofO2biWU9Qx_ogAYuN1dk02wUx0HVMzrOcRuqr64fZi2CgxDbctkKJUTWYKoHIYkhEAJg&_hsmi=38446357

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It's a wise father that knows his own child. - William Shakespeare

Who touches a fasther touches the son. - Ethiopian (Amharic) proverb

It's clear that most American children suffer too much mother and too little father. - Gloria Steinem

Women, it's true, make human beings, but only men can make men. - Margaret Mead

 



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