Many fathers face barriers that limit their ability to provide for and nurture their families. As stakeholders invested in fathers, families, and communities, we must understand the circumstances and needs of all fathers and ensure that program services are inclusive and designed to meet their diverse needs. This is particularly important in serving low-income fathers and fathers returning to their community after a period of incarceration as their circumstances often present additional barriers and challenges that necessitate additional support.
The National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (NRFC), a national resource funded by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Office of Family Assistance (OFA), hosted a 2-day virtual event focused on promising practices that create equitable access for all fathers.
Workshops were organized around the topics of Diversity, Reentry, Inclusion, Vision, and Employment (DRIVE) to encourage attendees to Lead the DRIVE to fatherhood excellence. Presenters included researchers, practitioners, and fathers who will share their lived experiences.
During this event, we:
- Examined policies that negatively impact fathers and limit access.
- Highlighted policies and strategies that increase access to services for fathers.
- Discussed racial equity and inclusion in fatherhood program delivery.
- Reflected on the experience of previously incarcerated fathers as they return to their families and communities and learn about successful strategies to help them navigate their journeys.
- Learned how program leaders have shared their visions for success with program staff, funders, fathers, and policy makers.
- Shared and discussed qualitative and quantitative research findings about low-income fathers and disseminate best and promising practices that address their needs.
This page reflects the Program Book (PDF - 3.16 MB) of the 2-day Virtual Event and contains recordings (as available, with permission) for the program sessions.
12:15 - 1:00 PM | Opening Plenary: Understanding the Mindset and Needs of Low-Income Fathers
This facilitated fireside chat allowed participants to hear first-hand from two fathers who will explore their parenting experiences, particularly during the pandemic, what they learned from the challenges they encountered, and what has helped them navigate those challenges, including:
- Challenges they faced before and during the COVID-19 pandemic;
- How a fatherhood program helped them;
- Most important lessons they learned that will help them moving forward; and
- Suggestions for fatherhood programs and other practitioners serving or planning to serve fathers.
2:15 - 3:00 PM | Session II: Recruitment and Retention of Low-Income Fathers in a World Gone Virtual
How do you encourage low-income fathers to join a fatherhood program? What skills do staff members need to connect with fathers and show them the potential benefits of participating for themselves and their families? This session will answer these questions and share effective in-person and virtual recruitment and retention strategies.
3:30 - 4:15 PM | Session III: The “New Normal” – Effective Engagement and Service Delivery Strategies for Low-Income Fathers
Impoverished and low-income men face multiple barriers that affect their ability to engage with their children consistently and positively. This panel will share tips and lessons learned about ways fatherhood and other programs can provide a range of in-person and virtual services that help ameliorate these barriers, programmatically engage and retain fathers, and increase the likelihood that fathers are able to parent successfully.
12:30 - 1:30 PM | Plenary II: Uplifting Low-Income Fathers – The Context for Changing Hearts, Minds, Behaviors, and Outcomes
Master teacher and clinical psychologist Dr. Adolph Brown discussed how low-income fathers are a greatly misunderstood population and how these fathers are overlooked in discussions of poverty and economic vulnerability—often being viewed as the cause of social problems rather than as having been abandoned by society.
In this highly engaging plenary, Dr. Brown presented a more comprehensive picture of the significant obstacles and trauma low-income fathers experience. Participants learned about how to “lead with compassion” by offering services and interventions to fathers that overcome faulty perceptions, implicit bias, stereotype threat, re-traumatization, egocentrism, and blind spots.
Dr. Brown took us on a journey of professional- and self-revelation. Participants gained strategies to create and sustain healthy, supportive, positive, and safe service environments that truly inspire fathers to be their very best for themselves and their families. Participants left this session as better service provider and better human beings!
2:00 - 2:45 PM | Session IV: The Hardest to Serve – Addressing Tough Issues Faced by Low-Income Dads
This session provided participants with a framework for helping low-income fathers address the tough issues that serve as barriers to parenting. During this session, participants learned about proven solutions and strategies from experienced fatherhood practitioners.
3:00 - 3:45 PM | Session V: Providing Trauma-Informed Care to Low-Income Fathers
Many of the fathers that seek support from responsible fatherhood and human service programs have experienced trauma that affects multiple aspects of their daily lives, including their parenting; the way they view themselves, others, and the world around them; and their ability to ask for and accept help. During this session, experienced practitioners shared effective trauma-informed and strengths-based approaches for providing in-person and virtual care and service delivery to low-income fathers.