The following father involvement programs are examples of
how communities across the country are meeting the need to support fathers
involvement in childrens learning. These examples illustrate the kinds of fathers
involvement programs that are working in schools, childcare centers and communities.
The Buhrer Elementary School (Pre-K-5),
Cleveland, Ohio, provides family math courses for mothers and fathers
and all home-school communications are in at least two languages. The school
has organized block parent meetings that are held at locations other than
school so that those parents who cannot come to the school for meetings can
address issues nearer to home with school staff who attend. Results: 18-20
parents attend a typical block meeting with an annually increasing number
of block parents attending school functions.
At Cane Run Elementary School (K-5),
Louisville, Kentucky, families participate in the Even Start Program,
with parents studying for the General Education Diploma while children are
in school or the on-site nursery. The schools Family Resource Center links
fathers and mothers to many community services, and runs after-school tutoring
and recreational programs for children. Results: PTA membership and the number
of mothers and fathers visiting the school building daily have both been multiplied
by a factor of 10. During the last two years, discipline referrals have declined
30 percent each year while attendance has maintained a steady 94 percent.
R.E.A.D. to Kids–Reconnecting
Education and Dads, Kansas City, Missouri, is
a project of the Urban Fathering Project. This activity helps dads develop
a reading program for their children. Results: Over 450 dads in 12 schools
participated in the program in its first year.
Kindering Center (Pre-K and elementary),
Bellevue, Washington, has established a weekly support group for fathers
of children with special needs, run by the National Fathering Network. It
now has affiliates in 35 states. Results: Enrollment has grown from 25 to
100 participating fathers, all of whom are better able to manage the stresses
of having a child with special needs.
Avance Child and Family Development
Program, (Pre-K) San Antonio, Texas, offers a 33-week fatherhood curriculum,
covering topics such as child growth and development, handling stress, learning
to live without violence, and childhood illnesses. The program also offers
a General Education Diploma and English as a Second Language classes. Results:
The program teaches parenting and personal skills to more than 60 men per
year, encourages fathers involvement with their children, and strengthens
relationships with their childrens mothers.
The Mary Hooker Elementary School
Family Resource Center in Hartford, Connecticut, primarily serves Puerto
Rican low-income families who are either bilingual in Spanish and English
or speak Spanish as their primary language. Program activities with fathers,
conducted in both English and Spanish, are often held evenings or on Saturdays.
Activities include parenting classes, picnics, field trips and early education
classes. Babysitting is provided as needed. Results: Many of the 250 parents
who attended the programs parental involvement meeting also attended the
meetings fatherhood workshop.
The Pinellas County Head Starts
Accepting the Leadership Challenge in Florida, a male involvement initiative,
began by taking 30 men away for the weekend and leading them through a bonding
exercise which helped them to form a group. The program offers fathers training
in parenting, nutrition, literacy and computers; educational travel; and opportunities
for successful family time. Results: Now in its ninth year, the number of
male involvement groups has expanded.
At the Fairfax-San Anselmo Childrens
Center (pre-K and after-school), Fairfax, California, on one Saturday
per month, as part of the Mens Breakfast Program, fathers first have breakfast
with their children, then have a fathers-only discussion led by the center
director, and then rejoin their children to do yard work and other fixing
up of the center. Results: Before the program, very few fathers participated
in parent-teacher meetings or other aspects of center life; now, virtually
all fathers participate.
The Florence S. Brown Pre-K Program,
Rochester, New York, holds one lunchtime meeting per month and one
evening meeting per month. Both of these meetings bring fathers to the center
to spend time in the classroom with their children and to do handiwork and
yardwork (for example, fixing broken toys, repairing the playground). Results:
Fathers took a lead role in a successful lobbying effort to prevent cutbacks
in state funding for the entire Pre-K program.
At the Sunbelt Human Advancement
Resources, Inc. Head Start (SHARE) in Greenville, South Carolina, male
volunteers visit men at the Perry Correctional Center to provide inmate fathers
with information on Head Start and its services to children and families,
as well as mentoring and life-skills training. Results: visits to the correctional
center provide male involvement volunteers with ideas for their mentoring
program with youth in group homes to prevent these young boys from becoming
a part of the justice system.
Parents as Teachers (Pre-K), St.
Louis, Missouri, is a statewide program, widely recognized as a national
model, that advocates that parents are childrens first teachers. The Ferguson-Florissant
High School has adapted this program for teen parents and parents-to-be, offering
both "Dads Only" and "Moms Only" classes. The school also
runs a preschool-based "Messy Activities" night to encourage fathers
to play with their children. Results: There has been increasing involvement
by fathers in families who participate in the program.
At Hueco Elementary School (Pre-K-6),
El Paso, Texas, all parents participate in the "Super Readers"
program, which provides incentives for parents to read with their children.
About 20-30 parents attend monthly Parent Communication Council meetings and
teachers receive release time to conduct home visits. Results: Parents involved
in at least one activity at school increased from 30 percent to 80 percent
per year. Parent participation has increased to include school decision-making,
classroom instruction, furthering their own educational goals, and helping
children more at home.
At Roosevelt High School (9-12),
Dallas, Texas, teams of faculty, parents and other community leaders
walk door-to-door during their "Walk for Success." These teams talk
with parents about their needs, interests and school improvement. Parents
of sophomores attend classes about state tests and a parent liaison makes
30-60 calls to parents per day to reinforce communication between home and
school. Results: Attendance at PTA meetings increased by a factor of 20. Student
achievement on state tests rose from the 40th percentile to the
81st percentile in reading, and from the 16th to the
70th percentile in math.
The Illinois Fatherhood Initiative
(IFI) is the countrys first statewide non-profit volunteer fatherhood organization.
Founded in 1997, IFI connects children and fathers by promoting responsible
fathering and helping equip men to become better fathers and father figures.
Results: Through its volunteer board of directors and board of advisors, IFI
creates strategic partnerships with private and non-profit organizations.
Its activities include the Illinois Father-of-the-Year Essay Contest (over
140,000 school-age children have submitted essays during the past three years)
on the theme, "What My Father Means to Me;" a Me & My Dad essay
booklet that includes essays, artwork and a six-part curriculum focused on
child-father issues; a Faces of Fatherhood Calendar; an Illinois Fathers
Resource Guide; a quarterly newsletter; and a Boot Camp for New Dads, a hospital-based
program which brings together first-time dads with soon to be first-time dads
to help them make the transition to fathering.
– Adapted from Fathers’ Involvement in Children’s Learning
– U.S. Department of Education