Lights, camera, action became reality last month when the TODAY Show’s Matt Lauer chose to spend a day with the NRFC team in an actual home searching for ideal hiding spots—behind a curtain, in a kitchen cabinet, and within a pile of stuffed animals. Why? As the father of three children, Lauer chose to support the issue of fatherhood involvement in an original Public Service Announcement, in collaboration with the Ad Council and Detroit-based ad agency Campbell Ewald. He conveys his energy and enthusiasm, and reminds us that being a parent can be fun. In fact, it reminded me of the many times growing up without social media−imagination was everything. How else could you find the one place in a Brooklyn one bedroom that nobody could find you? And, in our technology-driven world it sometimes helps to share some “old school” play options with dads of all ages.
We know that loving and nurturing fathers improve outcomes for children, families, and communities. Children with involved, loving fathers are significantly more likely to do well in school, have healthy self-esteem, exhibit empathy and pro-social behavior, and avoid high-risk behaviors including drug use, truancy, and criminal activity.
At the end of the day, Lauer reminds all of us that even the busiest fathers can take a few minutes each day to interact with their children in a meaningful way. Whether its hide-and-seek, coloring, or catching a ball, it’s all about sharing time together.
That night, I went home and re-thought the best hiding spots in my house so that I have my game plan ready for the weekend! I encourage you all to do the same.
Kenneth Braswell, Director, National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse.
Fathers, have you or your child/children gotten your flu shot this year? If you didn’t know, the flu, or influenza, is a viral infection of the nose, throat, and lungs. The disease can spread from person to person and it has already swept the country this season.
According to the latest report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu activity is now considered "widespread" in 47 states and the percentage of Americans going to the hospital has doubled within the past month.
"I'm young and healthy," a father might say, "Why do I need the shot?" True, most people with seasonal flu are sick for about a week, and then they feel better. But, some people, especially young children, pregnant women, older people, and people with chronic health problems can get very sick. Each year in the U.S. an average of 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized for flu-related complications.
The flu vaccine is, indeed, a good idea for all fathers and their families. A flu vaccine is the best way to protect your and your family from seasonal flu. Children are more likely to get the flu or have flu-related complications because their immune systems are still developing. In fact, a recent CDC study showed that treating children with the flu can be costly.
Although infants younger than 6 months cannot get the vaccine, if the parents and older children in the household receive the vaccine, it will help protect the baby. This is important because infants are at high-risk for serious complications from the flu.
If an aversion to needles is keeping you or your child/children from getting the vaccination there is an alternative! In addition to the traditional kids' flu shot (injection), there is a nasal spray called FluMist that may be a particularly good option for children and adults who don't like needles.
You may need to call around to find the vaccine, since some vaccine providers may have exhausted their supplies, while others may have remaining supplies of vaccine. However, it is worth the investment of time to do so. Here is a helpful tool - the Flu Vaccine Finder.
For those of you who are asking, “Is it too late”? The answer is “No, it’s not too late to vaccinate”. Remember, the flu is a serious illness and the season is likely to continue for several more weeks, so it’s important to take continued precautions. Learn more at Flu.gov.
George L. Askew, M.D., serves as the first chief medical officer for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). Earl Johnson is the Director of the Office of Family Assistance also within the ACF.
Reposted from Administration for Children & Families The Family Room Blog (Sept. 7, 2012)
As a new parent, I remember the time that I forgot my newborn’s diaper bag. Imagine a screaming newborn that HATED being in dirty diapers, luckily I had diapers stashed in my car. The great thing about this incident is that I now make sure we have diapers in as many places as possible.
We really shouldn’t wait until a disaster happens and say, "Oh we got lucky." We have to act now – especially since we are new parents and have to think about a family that might be in different locations at the time of the incident. An example of things you may need to get done include:
- Picking a family meeting place
- A way to contact other family members (i.e. phone numbers, and social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, etc.) – memorize important numbers for your family.
- Keep a supply of food and drink that won’t go bad in the house: one gallon of water per person per day. Food like ramen noodles, granola bars, pop tarts, peanut butter, and jelly. Don’t forget to pack a manual can opener if you plan on having canned food in your supply.
- Emergency kit for a newborn, baby, toddler. Examples include baby food, diapers, wipes, formula, entertainment, books, etc.
- Flashlight with extra batteries.
- Hand crank or battery operated radio (with extra batteries).
- Cash in case ATMs are down.
- Personal documents such as passport(s), social security card(s) or drivers license(s), mortgage statements, etc.
If you include your children in the emergency planning process they will be more likely to understand and remember the plan.
For more information and helpful hints on ways to protect yourself and your family, follow the Office of Human Services Emergency Preparedness and Response on Twitter and like us on Facebook.
Reposted from Administration for Children & Families The Family Room Blog (Sept. 7, 2012), written by Tala Hooban, Office of Human Services Emergency Preparedness and Response (OHSEPR) Program Analyst
Recent Studies reveal that over 24 million children in the United States living apart from their biological fathers are two to three times more likely to be poor, abuse drugs and alcohol, experience emotional, health, behavioral and education problems, and engage in criminal activity.
How are American communities and organizations responding?
In response, the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (NFRC) has been partnering with communities and organizations across the nation through Fatherhood Buzz, an initiative to support barbershops in connecting dads with local resources to help build strong families.
In the South Bronx, the Osborne Association’s Fatherhood Initiative, a program that works with formerly incarcerated fathers and their children, has partnered with Fatherhood Buzz to give resources and tips for parenting to their participants.
What kinds of tips for parenting do they teach?
- Spend time with your child, use every moment with your child to create positive memories
- Keep your promises that you made to your child, this builds trust between you and your child
- Celebrate your child’s accomplishments, praising your child gives them confidence and encourages them to keep trying to pursue what is right
- Consistently tell your sons and daughters that you love them, remind them that you love them for who they are, not for what they have done
Osborne’s Fatherhood Initiative not only teaches these Fatherhood Buzz Tips in the classroom, but they provide fathers the opportunity to use these tips by attending special events with their children. Recently, Osborne’s Fatherhood Initiative organized and provided for their participants and their children to attend a Yankee’s game, visit the New York Aquarium, and explore the Bronx Zoo. These events provided an avenue for fathers to create special memories and build trust with their child(ren).
Interested in Fatherhood Buzz tips you could use at home with your child?
Creating special moments with your children helps strengthen your relationship, improve communication, and improve their self-esteem. Spending quality time together doesn’t have to be expensive. Here are some ideas to get started!
- Tell your favorite childhood stories to your children
- Read aloud to your child
- Share old photos of yourself
- Prepare a family meal together
- Turn off the TV and play a board game together
- Do an outside activity with your children, like a nature walk, gardening, or bike riding
- Do an arts and crafts project, like creating a family album or draw pictures
For more information regarding your questions about parenting and fatherhood in the United States, check out our Tips for Parenting, or visit us at fatherhood.gov!
I recently had the opportunity to visit RecycleForce, a social enterprise in Indianapolis, IN that operates a recycling business while providing transitional jobs and comprehensive support services to formerly incarcerated individuals.
RecycleForce received a $5.5 million grant through the Department of Labor’s Enhanced Transition Jobs Demonstration (ETJD) to serve low-income, non-custodial fathers with criminal records. To implement this program, RecycleForce has teamed up with a number of community partners, including two faith-based programs, Changed Life and New Life Development Ministries that assist and hire formerly incarcerated individuals.
In my conversations with the staff and program participants, I learned how this project is not only helping people gain valuable work experience but is also helping them support their children. RecycleForce supports non-custodial parents by helping them reconnect with their children, strengthen their parenting skills, open-up communication lines with the children’s mother, and effectively manage their child support payments with the Marion County Child Support Division.
RecycleForce provides employment training and creates jobs, but more than that, they also transform the lives of the men and women who come through their doors.
The below video features a RecycleForce client discussing his responsibilities as a role model to his children:
Learn more about the work being implemented through Enhanced Transitional Jobs program at the Department of Labor.
Phil Tom is the Director of the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the U.S. Department of Labor