Ed. note: This post originally appeared as an ACF Region 8 Success Story. Read the original story here.
My name is Kyle Adolf and I am writing this story to explain the positive affect the Head Start program has had on my family. The Head Start program has had a profound influence on my family as all three of my young children have attended and graduated from the program.
My oldest son, Sean, attended Head Start during a time when his mother and I were still married. Sean has been diagnosed with AD/HD and high-functioning autism. During the time he was enrolled in Head Start he was not yet diagnosed with either of these disorders, but he was determined to have some sort of disability yet to be determined. I fully believe that this early detection was instrumental in paving the way for his achievements thus far dealing with these difficult disabilities both at school as well as at home. Sean is now in third grade and is receiving higher grades than I would have expected to see of someone with his special needs.
My middle son, Zachary, while having no official diagnosis, has problems with anxiety. Zachary was just two years old when his mother and I divorced, due to some unfortunate sets of circumstances that took place over the following year or so, had his entire sense of security stripped from him. Zachary needs structure possibly more than most his age which is not always easy to completely provide when you are a single parent. Head Start was a tremendous help in providing the daily structure that he required for his healthy development. Zachary is now in first grade, and while we are still dealing with a few issues with him, he is excelling academically.
Matthew is my youngest son and thankfully he was too young to have been as negatively affected by the same situation that his brothers struggled with. For the most part, I have been able to provide Matthew with the environment he needs to be happy and develop appropriately. I cannot sufficiently express my gratitude to the Head Start program for all that they have done to help me achieve this goal for Matthew.
Now for me…I am a single, disabled father of three very special boys! I have held such titles as; Marine, Security Guard, Armed Courier, Correctional Officer, and almost Law Enforcement Officer. I was about to apply myself to a career as a law enforcement officer when I lost one of my legs in an accident. Being disabled adds a whole other set of difficulties to raising children on top of being a single parent. After my accident I no longer had any work experience that was of any use to me so I decided to enroll in college. Head Start has been very supportive of my college endeavors both directly to me and also with the time and effort they have put toward my children that I may not have been able to offer them on my own with my academic commitments. As if all the previous help Head Start has given me was not enough, they also played an important part in me finding myself. Through becoming the Chairperson of the local program’s Policy Council, and the enormous reinforcement from the local director I have come to realize that I was meant for a leadership position. I am not sure yet where this revelation will take me but so far I have become more confident and happy with who I am, been honored as the National Head Start Association Parent of the Year and I have more drive and determination than ever to achieve my goals.
There is no way I could possibly give the Head Start program back anywhere near as much as they have given me. I truly wish I was able to give them more than three years of my time as Policy Council Chairperson or as a member of the North Dakota Head Start Association Board but unfortunately I cannot. I just pray this story will be of some use in repaying my gratitude to such a great program. I will attest to the fact that Head Start works.
Ed. Note: This post first appeared in the ACF Family Room Blog. Read the original post here.
Being a parent is a tough but rewarding job; for single parents the job is a bit tougher, but just as rewarding. Being a single dad means that my two boys are wholly depended upon me and the decisions I make, for better or worse. Often the default parent for care is mom, but as more and more fathers (self included) become involved in their children’s lives these norms are being challenged.
Fathers can be equally tasked and are capable of caring for children throughout the parenthood spectrum. Because of this, one issue that is always concerning for me is preparedness and if we (my children and I) are reasonably prepared for disaster. Being an emergency manager one might think that I am extremely prepared like the survivalists seen on television shows. Unfortunately, the reality is like many others today, my challenge is preparing alone. I cannot afford a bunker to take refuge in if needed and I don’t have a generator to power my home if I lose power; in reality I’m like every other parent out there and I must make do with the items within my means.
Many of my friends ask me what a single dad and emergency manager do to prepare his family? My answer is to create a culture of preparedness in my family by utilizing teaching points as often as possible, practicing and making preparedness fun and routine. It’s pretty easy and anyone can do it. It just takes remembering the final goal, moving along the spectrum from completely unprepared (winging it) to having an idea of what you will do in different situations. It doesn’t cost much to have a plan, but its priceless when planning ahead works when needed.
Preparing on the Cheap
Getting prepared doesn’t require a trip to a bank or raiding your kid’s college fund. Preparedness is as simple as having a plan, writing it down, discussing it as a family and placing it somewhere safe (and accessible). Everyone starts somewhere and the most basic ways to prepare are within the reach of most Americans. The most important item for survival is also the most accessible, that item…water. Many basic preparedness supplies can be found everyday in our homes. They range from water in a container (think gallon milk jug) to duct tape and Ziploc bags. These items are standard in most households and for the cost of a soda you and your family can start getting prepared.
Exposing the Wizard
Certain events in nature can be worrisome for anyone when it’s a mystery. I take the time to try to explain to my kids what things are and why they seem scary. During a storm, thunder and lightning can be pretty frightening but I try to expose the wizard of lighting by teaching my boys the “Flash to Bang” method of counting until you hear thunder. With this method the kids learn that thunder travels a mile in five seconds. Now every time they see lightning instead of being afraid, they count and it’s become a game (whether they understand distance or not). I try to do this as often as possible because kids fear what they don’t understand and this gives them and myself less to worry about.
If It’s Raining, We’re Training
During the spring when storms are at their worst, I found training is best. When storms hit, we grab the dog and head to the safe area in our house. Each of my kids has a mini “go kit” comprised of recycled bags that I get from the grocery store, dollar store first aid kits, flashlights, duct tape, books and a favorite toy. We also pack non-perishable snacks and water. Each of us has a headlamp that we wear and take turns checking our supplies in our basement (known to the kids as the fort). In doing this, I am teaching them about routines, checking our supplies and making it kind of a back yard experience, without the backyard. We also take care of our dog “The Mighty Niki” by having chew toys and grooming items to help keep her calm. Although each time and storm is different, generally speaking my kids gain more confidence and want to build up their kits, which unfortunately happens when we go shopping.
An Inch Becomes a Mile
As I said earlier preparedness starts with a plan and it costs nothing to make a plan. That plan can be as simple as who to call, where to go, and what to do if. The most basic supply needed is water, which is the simplest item to obtain. A visit to your local dollar store can bring you a wealth of items for one-time use events. Is my family worth more than a dollar?? Of course, but what we know is that most people don’t have anything and are expecting the government to come in and save them. Unfortunately, this may not happen and in the end all we have is ourselves. To build my kit, each time I visit a store, instead of buying things that I want, I buy what I need. Need means granola bars or extra dog food instead of gummy bears or candy. Inch by inch I’m slowly building my kit one item at a time. So the next time you go to the store and you grab the Haagen Dazs, ask yourself “can this save me in an emergency?” Maybe, you will reach for an energy bar instead. Please keep in mind that you may not have everything today, but you’ll have more than yesterday and that can make all of the difference.
A Four Letter Word
I do these things not to be a hero, not to be famous, not because it’s what the military taught me, but because of my kids. We all have someone we do these things for whether it be a grandmother, pet, partner or child. In the end, the reason for preparedness can boil down to a four letter word…LOVE.
Marc Fisher, Region 5 Regional Emergency Management Specialist
Many people in North Carolina’s Raleigh/Durham area have been talking about the buzz in their area recently. The buzz is coming from Raleigh’s Family Resource Center (FRC) as they raise awareness about responsible fatherhood and parenting by participating in the Fatherhood Buzz Barbershop Tour sponsored by the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse.
FRC’s participation in the Fatherhood Buzz Barbershop Tour kicked off in June during Father’s Day weekend at Park West Barber School in Durham, NC. Fathers were treated to doughnuts, coffee and juice courtesy of a local donut franchise while participating in an open discussion about fatherhood related issues. The conversation gave men the opportunity to express how they felt about fatherhood and provide positive resolutions for some of the problems that the community is facing. FRC also distributed information and resources that would be helpful to the men along their fatherhood journey. Participants also received information about FRC’s P.U.L.S.E. program which promotes the values of healthy relationships by tackling topics like communication skills, managing emotions, relationship compatibility, and more.
Since the barbershop is the cornerstone of many communities, FRC decided that holding these events regularly is a great way to reach out to men, provide them with valuable parenting tools and support, and invite them to participate in regular events like FRC’s annual conference held each June.
In the four months since the Buzz tour kicked off, FRC has reached over 100 men providing them with resources to help them understand the importance of fatherhood. Men from all walks of life have participated in the Buzz; former gang members, pastors, law enforcement agents, great grandfathers, and other men in the community who want to make a difference in the lives of our youth. The conversations that take place during these events are priceless. Discussions have covered topics such as gang violence, visitation, father’s rights, child support, and other issues that are affecting men in the community.
FRC is spreading the Fatherhood Buzz into four more counties as the program continues to offer avenues for fathers to gain education about responsible parenting.
Learn more about Family Resource Center of Raleigh.
Dion Chavis, Education Case Manager Project PULSE, Family Resource Center of Raleigh
Ed. Note: This post first appeared in the ACF Family Room Blog. Read the original post here.
Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States, killing 307,225 men in 2009—that’s 1 in every 4 male deaths?1
The National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (NRFC) sponsored another Fatherhood Buzz Outreach but this time the focus was Men’s Health. Fathers who model a healthy lifestyle can not only reduce their risk of heart disease but also can have a powerful and positive impact on the development and health of their children. In fact, children who have actively engaged fathers are more likely to have good physical and emotional health, to achieve academically, and avoid drugs, violence, and delinquent behavior.
The Fatherhood Buzz events encourage fathers to be healthy, and to treat their health as part of their commitment to being a responsible father. The Office of Family Assistance’s NRFC has partnered with 50 community agencies and approximately 135 barbershops in 24 States and the District of Columbia to provide fathers with key tips, information and strategies that focus on men’s health and encourage fathers to “Take Time to be a Healthy Dad Today.”
On the weekend of Nov. 15-16, each barbershop was expected to distribute Fatherhood Buzz tip cards but many are going over and beyond. Three barbershops in Brooklyn, N.Y., partnered with community health centers to distribute men’s health information and offer health screenings. PB&J Family Services/Fathers Building Futures, an OFA fatherhood reentry grantee, distributed information on men's health and tattoo removal, and provided free popcorn and moon bounce for the kids.
The Fatherhood Buzz is a public awareness campaign that continues the dialogue about the importance of fathers. This past weekend, the Buzz emphasized the need for men to concentrate on their health so that they can care for their children. For more information, please go to http://fatherhood.gov/fatherhood-buzz/stay-connected
Lisa Washington-Thomas, Branch Chief, Self-Sufficiency Branch, Office of Family Assistance
1. Kochanek KD, Xu JQ, Murphy SL, Miniño AM, Kung HC. Deaths: final data for 2009 [PDF-2M]. National vital statistics reports. 2011;60(3).
Recording artists. Professional athletes. The occasional reality TV star stopping by. This is the clientele that frequents Midieast Studios in Alexandria, Virginia. The facility, originally opened as a music recording studio, now has a video editing & photography room, tattoo shop and most recently added, a barbershop. As the barbershop is historically known to be the cornerstone of men’s open dialogue, you can only imagine the rich conversations around sports, music, and entertainment that occur in Midieast Celebrity Barbershop. But this past June, the convo took a slight turn from the norm. Shop owner Eric “E-Storm” Gonzales and Matt Crews from the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (NRFC), facilitated a 2 hour long event under the President’s Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative. The topic: fatherhood.
Initially a group of 22 men convened in the barbershop and told stories of the birth of their first child, their academic or athletic accomplishments, and some of the major obstacles they’ve faced parenting. There was an incredible wave of emotion in the room. When talking about the birth of their first child, most of the men expressed sentiments of joy, whether they were present or not. Almost the same for academic and athletic accomplishments. The barbershop was filled with smiles and laughter.
When talking about the parenting obstacles, the room took on a more serious tone. There were looks of concern for some of the subjects discussed. But not concern out of judgment. More of a “I’ve been there before” look. All of the men related. And as they related more and more, they began offering advice and suggestions to each other. Some even began side conversations from the group and exchanged phone numbers. It was clear that they all wanted for every man in that room to succeed at being the best father they could possibly be.
The NRFC provided resources on responsible fatherhood and strengthening families to all attendees and even those passing by. But as we wrapped up at Midieast Studio, it was clear that the most valuable resource at this event were the guys themselves connecting and supporting each other. The stories they shared and friendships that were made will go long beyond anything we had to offer. And that’s what Fatherhood Buzz is about. Creating a positive and informative dialogue on fatherhood that leaves men with the encouragement to continue to Take Time to Be a Dad Today.
Find out more about Fatherhood Buzz and ways to get involved by visiting the Fatherhood Buzz section of Fatherhood.gov.
Matt Crews, National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse Team