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July/August 2017Vol. 18, No. 5Benefits of Fatherhood Programs in Community-Based Organizations

Fathers in the United States—particularly those who participate in fatherhood programs—can face many challenges to being present for their children. These challenges include unemployment and job instability, which can lead to a lack of financial means to provide for their children and the inability to pay child support and bills; physical health problems; substance use; and more. As a result of the aforementioned challenges, the overall well-being of the child is impacted, which in most instances could be alleviated by the presence of a father.

The Benefits of Fatherhood Programs in Community-Based Organizations, produced by the National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI), highlights the need for community-based organizations (CBOs) to address these challenges to fathers and their children and provide solutions in their fatherhood programs, either through the provision of services by the CBO or the CBO's partners.

The brief addresses eight societal issues that CBOs and their fatherhood programs should address and provides research to support them:

  • Child well-being: Children from father-absent homes are twice as likely to become obese, and the poverty rate among these homes is four times higher than two-parent homes.
  • Father involvement: Most CBO programs and services focus on mothers and children. Resources tailored specifically to fathers only, such as fatherhood skill-building resources are important in engaging and recruiting fathers to these programs.
  • Child welfare: Children who grow up without fathers are more likely to be abused; experience "father hunger," which appears in children within one to three months after a father is suddenly absent, causing nightmares and sleeplessness; and have affective disorders.
  • Maternal and child health: A child's health may be directly related to his or her father's absence and include emotional and behavioral issues, sexual activity, and abuse and neglect. Babies born into father-absent homes have double the risk of infant mortality.
  • Expectant and new fathers and health-care settings: Fatherhood resources should be made available in health-care settings and other places new or expectant fathers can be reached as they are more open to fatherhood skill building during this time.
  • Substance abuse and mental health: Children with absent fathers are more likely to use drugs and alcohol and show aggressive behavior.
  • Poverty and crime: Children from father-absent homes are four times more likely to experience poverty, and children with incarcerated fathers are seven times more likely to become incarcerated themselves.
  • Workforce development: Fathers who are unemployed often believe they have nothing of value to contribute to a child's life. Therefore, it is imperative to help fathers by offering programs that will help connect them to jobs.

NFI offers evidence-based and evidence-informed programs, workshops, and other resources designed specifically for fathers that CBOs can implement in their programs. These include the Father Friendly Check-Up, which is a tool that assesses how a CBO encourages father involvement in the activities and programs offered; the free e-book 7 Steps to Starting a Fatherhood Program; the FatherTopics Booster Sessions, which help CBOs cover important issues related to fatherhood; and the Community Mobilization Approach e-book, which is meant for those looking to implement a larger city or statewide fatherhood initiative.

NFI's The Benefits of Fatherhood Programs in Community-Based Organizations is available at (9,960 KB).

To view the other resources, visit the NFI website at