What is a responsible fatherhood program?
Fathers matter yet few programs meet the unique needs and challenges of fathers who want to reconnect and provide for their children. The most experienced, veteran programs are the local fatherhood programs supported by the Center for Fathers and Families which have collectively served nearly 10,000 fathers. Men join voluntarily often hearing about the program from other fatherhood program participants, family members or fatherhood program community partners. Other fathers are court-ordered to the program in lieu of incarceration for non-payment of child support. Regardless of how a father enters the program, all receive the same high quality services.
In a local fatherhood program men experience a comprehensive approach designed to increase their skills, overcome obstacles and become engaged, responsible fathers. First and foremost, a program creates an environment of trust and respect where fathers can express frustrations and fears and find resources and motivation to persevere and resolve their complex challenges. Second, responsible fatherhood programs aim to reach the heart of the man by addressing their emotions, self concept, relationships with their own fathers and with their own children. During the six month program fathers participate in weekly peer support meetings where they learn and share together while building a new support network of men who want to do better and be better. The fatherhood curriculum addresses a wide range of topics focused toward improving employment status, parenting and family relationships. Topics include:
- Responsible Fatherhood
- Spiritual Development
- Effective Communication
- Job Readiness and Employment
- Understanding Child Support and the Legal System
- Financial Management
- Parenting and Co-Parenting
- Healthy Relationships
- Men's Health and Education
Fatherhood program staff members provide one-on-one assistance to help fathers achieve individually set goals in a One Man Plan. The program staff becomes a trusted link for the fathers connecting them to beneficial, professional resources needed to help them reach their goals. The men receive guidance to navigate the child support system, mediation with the child's mother and other family members, access to healthcare, record expungement, transportation, finding a job and stable housing.
When more complex issues involving drug and alcohol, violent behavior and mental illness arise, programs partner with specialized treatment organizations to ensure provision of professional help.