2019 National Fatherhood Summit

Fanning the Fatherhood FIRE, A National Fatherhood Summit, June 4-6, 2019, Nashville, TN. Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance. Image of father and family in front of flames.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), and the Office of Family Assistance (OFA) are committed to supporting fathers from all walks of life because fathers are essential to the healthy social, emotional, and economic well-being of their children and families. Our 2019 National Fatherhood Summit theme, Fanning the Fatherhood FIRE, was chosen to rally and inspire the field—giving increased attention to fathers as Family-focused, Interconnected, Resilient, and Essential contributors to their children, families, communities, and society.

The Summit served to emphasize the work that must be done to redouble fatherhood efforts. We were fortunate to have participants [like you] who were diverse in expertise but unified in passion for Fanning the Fatherhood FIRE. Over 90% of attendees [like you] said that they increased their understanding about critical father issues, made new connections, and believed that they would serve fathers better, due to the Summit. This page reflects the agenda of the 3-day Summit and contains materials and recordings (as available, with permission) for Summit sessions.

Town Hall: Working with Federal Programs to Fan the Fatherhood FIRE

Federal programs across the board serve fathers directly and indirectly. At this kick-off session for the Summit, representatives from a range of federal human services programs highlighted their efforts to engage fathers. They also took questions about how to work together to fan the fatherhood fire.

In the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) administers the federal Responsible Fatherhood competitive grant program, but that is not all. ACF also oversees the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, the Office of Child Support Enforcement, the Office of Head Start, the Children’s Bureau, and many others. These programs are part of ACF’s consolidated effort to integrate approaches that enhance father engagement and encourage similar activities at all human service agencies.

Participants learned more about how the federal government is redoubling its efforts to promote fatherhood!

Moderator(s):

  • Seth Chamberlain, Branch Chief for Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood, Office of Family Assistance, Washington D.C.

Presenter(s):

  • David Jones, Management Analyst, Office of Head Start, Washington, D.C.
  • James Murray, Senior Advisor, Office of Child Support Enforcement, Washington, D.C.
  • Matthew McGuire, Child Welfare Specialist, Children’s Bureau, Washington, D.C.
  • Susan Golonka, Deputy Director, Office of Family Assistance, Washington, D.C.
  • Robin Y. McDonald, Division Director, State and Territory TANF Management, Office of Family Assistance, Washington, D.C.

Session Materials:

Igniting Insights: Introduction of the “Get FIREd Up” Journal

ACF designed this Summit to provide practical skills-building and peer-learning sessions. ACF leaders were also interested in learning how they can collaborate with Summit participants in support of fathers and their families across the country. The “Get FIREd Up” journal was designed to facilitate the learning process and to generate reflections on how ACF and other local, state, and national organizations can work together to advance Family-focused and Interconnected services that cultivate Resilience and embrace the Essential role of fathers. Throughout the three days, participants were encouraged to document their action steps and share insights using the “Get FIREd Up” journal. Journal entries were designed to inform a capstone activity on the last day of the Summit. This session oriented participants to the features of the journal and how it can be used to guide reflections and share insights with other participants and ACF leadership.

Presenter(s):

  • Dr. Julia Elligers, Senior Manager, Government and Public Services Strategy, Deloitte Consulting LLP, Arlington, Virginia

Session Materials:

Setting A Place at the Fatherhood Table: Developing an Organizational Strategy

Organizations across the country are considering—or actively offering—father-focused services. Whether new to the field or seasoned practitioners, all can benefit from developing, refining, and implementing strategies designed to engage fathers. This session took participants on an exploratory journey of personal and organizational capacity to assess their readiness to set a place at the fatherhood table. Preparation involves careful consideration of whether a program’s policy, practice, and mission align with those of public and private funding organizations. Preparation also requires thoughtful attention to program design, implementation, and continuous quality improvement. In this highly interactive session, participants will get up, think, move, and collaborate with others to complete an organizational readiness and strategy checklist. This assessment was designed to help guide afternoon workshop choices and provide the tools needed to create a winning strategy for success in serving fathers.

 

Moderator(s):

  • Robin Y. McDonald, Division Director, State and Territory TANF Management, Office of Family Assistance, Washington, D.C.

Presenter(s):

  • Dr. L. Diane Bennett, Principal, Maximize Consulting LLC, Charlotte, North Carolina

Session Materials:

Fatherhood Tools at Your Fingertips: The National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse

Many in the fatherhood field are unaware of a helpful bank of information and support available at their fingertips. This session explored the many resources provided by the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (NRFC). Participants took a guided tour of the Fatherhood.gov website to learn about ready-to-use materials, such as the Responsible Fatherhood Toolkit and an extensive library. The presenter also provided an overview of the NRFC’s national fatherhood call center and NRFC social media platforms, which post breaking news and trends for fathers and practitioners. Participants were encouraged to ask questions about how the NRFC can work for them.

Presenter(s):

  • Kenneth Braswell, Project Director, National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, Dunwoody, Georgia

Session Materials:

“Get FIREd Up” Journal Reflection, Tuesday June 4

Participants used the “Get FIREd Up” journal to identify learning goals that will enhance their abilities to support their organizations’ programs, and the fathers, families, and communities they serve. The learning goals identified through journaling were designed to guide participants on which Summit skills-building and breakout sessions to attend.

Presenter(s):

  • Dr. Julia Elligers, Senior Manager, Government and Public Services Strategy, Deloitte Consulting LLP, Arlington, Virginia

Session Materials:

Evaluation: Learning More in Order to Do More

Whether seeking federal or private funding, grant applications with well-designed evaluation proposals tell funders the program is poised to learn, grow, and improve over time. This session will provide guidance on designing an evaluation with the greatest chance of providing relevant, rigorous information to make the program stronger. The presenter will look at different research questions that are relevant for father-serving programs and suggest how an evaluation might answer them.

The presenter provided some common evaluation terms and compare them to program terms to identify how researchers and program managers sometimes misunderstand each other. The session explained how information that evaluators find can help programs address programmatic issues. The presenter also discussed the importance of logic models to every program and evaluation effort and offer examples.

By the end of this session, participants understood:

  • The different types of evaluations and the kinds of questions that each can and cannot address
  • How to align programming with evaluation to ensure the evaluation is measuring what the program is doing
  • How evaluation information can help improve program performance
  • The kinds of evaluation information funders seek in applications, and common pitfalls
Moderator(s):

  • Dr. Samantha Illangasekare, Senior Social Science Research Analyst, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Washington, D.C.

Presenter(s):

  • Sharon Rowser, Vice President, MDRC, Oakland, California

Session Materials:

Fatherhood Engagement in School-Based Settings

Outreach to fathers is critical to improve outcomes for children. One of the most effective ways to reach fathers is through local schools and Head Start programs. This session drew upon the experience of Strong Fathers-Strong Families, LLC, which has worked with more than 220,000 fathers of children under the age of 18 in rural, suburban, and urban locations around the nation.

The presenter explored the important role fathers play in the development and education of children, and the barriers many fathers face when attempting to be involved in their children’s education. The presentation explained how organizations can address these barriers and engage more fathers in local schools and early childhood programs.

In this session, participants learned about:

  • Obstacles that can keep fathers from being engaged in their child’s education
  • Promising practices for reaching fathers in schools and Head Start programs and working with them over the course of their child’s life
Moderator(s):

  • Damon Waters, Family Assistance Program Specialist, Office of Family Assistance, Washington, D.C.

Presenter(s):

  • J. Michael Hall, President and Founder, Strong Fathers-Strong Families, LLC, Fort Worth, Texas

Session Materials:

Fathers and The Family: Engaging Fathers in Family-Focused Service Provision.

Family services programs are also in the business of serving fathers. How can they become more father friendly? This session drew on the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse’s (NRFC) Responsible Fatherhood Toolkit: Resources from the Field and the shared experiences of participants. The workshop explored the most effective ways to recruit and engage fathers to improve outcomes for families and children.

Presenters focused on hiring, training, and supporting staff, conducting successful outreach and recruitment, and delivering effective services. The presenters also shared tips from the toolkit and other NRFC resources.

Participants gained:
  • Greater understanding of resources in the NRFC’s Responsible Fatherhood Toolkit
  • Wider awareness of promising practices in the field and tips on how to implement them
  • Expanded connections to fellow practitioners
Moderator(s):

  • Barbara Spoor, Family Assistance Program Specialist, Office of Family Assistance, Washington, D.C.

Presenter(s):

  • Nigel Vann, Product Development Lead, National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, Silver City, New Mexico
  • James Worthy, Outreach Coordinator, National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, Reisterstown, Maryland

Session Materials:

Getting Fired Up About Your Grant Proposal: Successful Strategies

Learning how to write grant proposals is vital for funding and sustaining the important work that is changing lives in many communities across the country. Nevertheless, many new agencies—and veteran ones as well—can find it challenging to secure grant funding.
 
This session provided step-by-step instructions to create stronger grant applications. The presenter discussed proven tips and strategies, including how to prepare before a proposal is written, what advance research to conduct, and what language to use. The presentation also provided a sample sponsorship letter and a sample budget.
 
In this session, participants learned how to:
  • Draft more effective grant proposals and applications
  • Articulate community needs and a program model in a proposal
  • Create a sound budget that supports program design
Moderator(s):

  • Tanya Howell, Family Assistance Program Specialist, Office of Family Assistance, Washington, D.C.

Presenter(s):

  • Patrick Patterson, President, Global Partners for Fathers and Families, LLC, Raleigh, North Carolina

Session Materials:

Getting the Word Out About Dads: From Messaging to Marketing to Social Media

This exciting session will explore strategies to effectively promote responsible fatherhood through local media outreach and social media campaigns.

Presenters described how practitioners can market their fatherhood programs and advance the responsible fatherhood message through proclamations, videos, still images, customizable flyers, social graphics, and social media content. The session also discussed how to craft individualized media and social media outreach in local communities.

By the end of this session, participants should have been able to:

  • ​Be empowered and inspired to share messaging on social media and conduct outreach to the local media
  • Understand promising practices for marketing through the media and social media
  • Learn how to create messaging to expand awareness of fatherhood programs and recruit new program participants
Moderator(s):

  • Meghan Heffron, Family Assistance Program Specialist, Office of Family Assistance, Washington, D.C.

Presenter(s):

  • Madeline Miller, Campaign Director, The Ad Council, New York, New York
  • David Miller, Social Media Manager, National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, Washington, D.C.

Session Materials:

How to FIRE Up an Investment-Worthy Case for Program Support

Legislators and nonprofit funders say they are looking for evidence of return on investment. The Saint Wall Street “Program Return on Investment (PROI)” model has helped fatherhood and other family service programs across America demonstrate this important value and use it to substantially increase support for their programs.

This session sought to help fatherhood programs assess their case-making value based on three questions: What is the problem? How is my program different and better at solving the problem? Where is the proof?

Participants also learned how to use a PROI case to:

  • Build or strengthen brand identity in ways that make the program stand out
  • Lead value-consciously to save money and make the program worth more money
  • Qualify for more and larger funding opportunities
Moderator(s):

  • Dr. Stacey Bouchet, Products Specialist, National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, Baltimore, Maryland

Presenter(s):

  • Bernice Sanders Smoot, Founder and President, Saint Wall Street, LLC, St. Petersburg, Florida

Session Materials:

Opening Plenary and Keynote Address: Changing the Culture on the Essential Role of Fathers

Lynn Johnson is the Trump Administration’s top human services official in charge of fostering the well-being of families, children, individuals, and communities. In this session, Assistant Secretary Johnson shared her vision for engaging in cross-sector efforts to influence and strengthen America’s cultural perspective on the essential role that fathers play in the lives of their children, families, communities, and society.

Moderator(s):

  • Steven Wagner, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Administration for Children and Families, U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington D.C.

Presenter(s):

  • Lynn Johnson, Assistant Secretary, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C.

Session Materials:

Illuminating the Importance of Fathers: The Responsible Fatherhood Media Campaign

The Ad Council’s images and slogans are woven into the very fabric of American pop culture, and fatherhood is part of that! This session showed how the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse’s media campaign (funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families) has spread the word nationally that fathers are essential in their children’s lives. Participants heared how the media campaign has inspired fathers across the country to “take time to be a dad today,” and the presenter described the positive effect of the campaign on fathers’ behaviors. As a special bonus, this session also unveiled the new Responsible Fatherhood media campaign launching for Father’s Day 2019!

Presenter(s):

  • Dzu Bui, Vice President, Group Campaign Director, The Ad Council, New York, New York

Session Materials:

Government as Catalyst: An Enterprise Approach to Shaping America’s Cultural View of Fathers as Essential to Society

Many federal agencies engage with fathers and families at some level in their service provision. This session highlighted the government’s function as a catalyst to shape the American cultural perspective of the essential role of fathers in the family and in society.

This panel of federal agency officials discussed father engagement efforts within the context of each agency’s mission and goals. They described family-focused approaches that incorporate the perspective of fathers as equal contributors to healthy families and community stabilization.

Moderator(s):

  • Steven Wagner, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Administration for Children and Families, U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington D.C.

Presenter(s):

  • Clarence H. Carter, Director of the Office of Family Assistance, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C.
  • Jerryl E. Bennett, Liaison, Federal Interagency STEM Initiatives, Office of Public Housing Investments, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Washington, D.C.
  • Katharine Sullivan, Acting Director, Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.
  • Devon Westhill, Deputy Director of the Public Liaison, U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, D.C.

Session Materials:

“Get FIREd Up” Journal Reflection, Wednesday June 5

Participants used the “Get FIREd Up” journal to identify learning goals that will enhance their abilities to support their organizations’ programs, and the fathers, families, and communities they serve. The learning goals identified through journaling were to guide participants on which Summit skills-building and breakout sessions to attend.

Presenter(s):

  • Dr. Julia Elligers, Senior Manager, Government and Public Services Strategy, Deloitte Consulting LLP, Arlington, Virginia

Session Materials:

All in The Family: Engagement Opportunities in Child Welfare

Research links father involvement to better outcomes for children, even children in the child welfare system. When fathers are involved, their children have shorter lengths of stay in foster care and are more likely to be reunited with birth parents or placed with relatives. However, reviews of child welfare data indicate that child welfare agencies struggle to engage fathers and paternal relatives.
 
This session began with background on fathers with children in the child welfare system, using data from a major federal evaluation of fatherhood programs. Then, presenters provided an overview of the Fathers and Continuous Learning project, a landmark federal study designed to improve father and paternal relative involvement in child welfare.
 
Presenters noted possible times and places in the child welfare system for interventions and approaches that might be targeted for increased father involvement. The panel explored how collaborating with system partners and continuously using data to make improvements could create a child welfare culture that successfully engages fathers.
Moderator(s):

  • Pooja Gupta, Social Science Research Analyst, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Washington, D.C.

Presenter(s):

  • Scott Baumgartner, Researcher, Mathematica, Washington, D.C.
  • Dr. Jennifer Bellamy, Associate Professor, University of Denver, Denver, Colorado
  • Dr. Matthew Stagner, Vice President, Mathematica, Chicago, Illinois

Session Materials:

Beyond Isolation: Developing Social Capital

Social capital refers to the social networks and structural and environmental factors that affect the ability of individuals to succeed. Higher social capital helps to build bridges, reduce barriers, and provide leverage to upward mobility. Many fathers affected by intergenerational poverty, incarceration, and other socioeconomic challenges lack the social capital to escape cycles of crises. Often, these fathers are isolated in adverse environments and trapped in unhealthy interpersonal relationships. Program activities to improve the socioeconomic situations of these fathers must focus on opening new pathways of opportunities and relationships. In short, the programs must improve fathers’ social capital.

In this session, presenters discussed what social capital is and how it relates to socioeconomic outcomes. They described various barriers associated with low social capital and share promising models of how to increase fathers’ and families’ social capital and strengthen their resiliency.

Moderator(s):

  • Carol Mizoguchi, Family Assistance Program Specialist, Office of Family Assistance, Washington, D.C.

Presenter(s):

  • Dr. Armon Perry, Project Director/Associate Professor, 4 Your Child/University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky
  • Lyman Legters, Senior Director, Casey Family Programs, Greenbelt, Maryland

Session Materials:

Effective Workforce Development and Employment Strategies for High Need Fathers

Addressing fathers’ employment needs is crucial in most fatherhood programs, but many dads face special challenges in finding work. This session began with a brief overview of how employment has been addressed in fatherhood programs through key demonstration projects such as Parents’ Fair Share. Next, the presenters described effective methods for providing employment services to a range of high-need fathers including noncustodial or nonresidential fathers, and fathers with criminal records, minimal education, or child support arrears. The presenters addressed common road blocks to engaging fathers in employment, and they will highlight a strategy to build effective partnerships between fatherhood programs and employers. Participants engaged in activities to help identify strengths and limitations in their current employment initiatives, and they will learn new approaches.

Moderator(s):

  • Damon Waters, Family Assistance Program Specialist, Office of Family Assistance, Washington, D.C.

Presenter(s):

  • Sandino Thompson, Vice President, Public Strategies, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Azaliah Israel, Project Specialist, Public Strategies, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Session Materials:

Enhancing the Fatherhood Field Through Effective and Intentional Leadership

Success in fatherhood service provision goes beyond the use of a curriculum. It requires the ability to lead a team and to create and execute a programmatic vision. This session encouraged participants to assess their own leadership styles and evaluate their impact on programming. The session provided intentional leadership strategies to enhance programming. Presenters offered nine leadership principles that build trust and empower others in order to improve morale and productivity. They described how effective leadership builds program sustainability.

 

Moderator(s):

  • Geneva Ware-Rice, Senior Program Consultant, Office of Family Assistance, Washington, D.C.

Presenter(s):

  • Alan-Michael Graves, Fatherhood Program Director, Good+ Foundation, Los Angeles, California
  • Ronald Harvey, Vice President, Global Core Strategies and Consulting, LLC, Columbia, South Carolina

Promoting Positive Father-Child Interaction

Research shows that children benefit when their father is involved in their lives. That involvement includes not only his presence and the amount of time he spends, but also the quality of his interactions. This session explored how practitioners can support a father’s active engagement with his children to foster healthy, positive outcomes.
 
Presenters discussed five basic areas of knowledge and skills that practitioners can emphasize with participating fathers. The presenters also highlighted interactive, strengths-based, and solution-focused strategies, including a tool designed to assess and encourage positive father-child interactions. Practitioners learned how to create environments that affirm fathers and build on their strengths for their children’s well-being.
Moderator(s):

  • Patrick Patterson, Project Manager, National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, Raleigh, North Carolina

Presenter(s):

  • John Badalament, Director of Programs, Massachusetts General Hospital, The Fatherhood Project, Boston, Massachusetts

Session Materials:

Relationships Ignite Resilience and Recovery

Substance abuse has a devastating effect on families, and it is especially challenging for low-income and minority fathers. This session addressed how practitioners can help fathers and families affected by the crisis.

The panel provided a backdrop review of the ever-evolving substance abuse prevention and treatment policies and practices in the U.S., as well as current trends and tensions in prevention and treatment. Presenters then described practical approaches fatherhood programs can employ to effectively help fathers and families challenged by substance abuse.
Moderator(s):

  • Eugene Schneeberg, Outreach Lead, National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, Fairfax, Virginia

Presenter(s):

  • Gyasi Headen, Director of Workforce Development, The Osborne Association, Inc., Bronx, New York
  • Ted Strader, Executive Director and Creating Lasting Family Connections Curriculum Developer, Council on Prevention and Education Substances (COPES), Inc., Louisville, Kentucky

Supporting Children Through Co-Parenting Strategies

A father’s role is integral to his children’s social, emotional, and economic well-being, but several barriers may prevent successful co-parenting. Some of the challenges include high-conflict environments, the effects of incarceration, issues of domestic violence and substance misuse, and children in foster care or relative placements. Even when parents face such challenges, positive co-parenting is possible and can provide important benefits for children.

This session provided an overview of the obstacles, interventions, strategies, and benefits for coparenting across a variety of contexts, including single, married, and cohabiting parents. Presenters described how fathers can contribute to successful co-parenting. They presented topics that can be introduced to co-parents to improve their relationships and co-parenting principles that can be incorporated into parenting programs, all with the ultimate goal of supporting the co-parents’ children.

Moderator(s):

  • Toya Joyner, Family Assistance Program Specialist, Office of Family Assistance, Washington, D.C.

Presenter(s):

  • Dr. Alicia La Hoz, Founder and CEO, Family Bridges, Wheaton, Illinois
  • Dr. Carla Stover, Associate Professor, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut

Session Materials:

The Essential Role of Engaged Fathers in Head Start Programs

Head Start Programs have supported and strengthened parent-child relationships for more than 50 years, including a specific focus on father involvement. Whether parents are cohabiting or living separately, custodial or noncustodial, Head Start appreciates the essential role that positively-engaged fathers can play in support of children, families, and their communities. Head Start grantees and practitioners are encouraged to recognize how engaged fathers contribute to children’s behavior, and to think strategically about how to solicit fathers’ input and address barriers impeding active engagement.

This session discussed innovative approaches to engage fathers at the individual, program, and community levels. Presenters explored how professional development for staff and partnerships with community stakeholders can lead to enhanced outcomes for families.

Moderator(s):

  • Dr. Samantha Illangasekare, Senior Social Science Research Analyst, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Washington, D.C.

Presenter(s):

  • Dr. John F. Hornstein, Faculty, Infant-Parent Mental Health Fellowship Program, UC-Davis, Portland, Maine
  • David Jones, Management Analyst, Office of Head Start, Washington, D.C.

Session Materials:

Understanding the Past to Improve the Future: Lessons Learned in Fatherhood Program Service Delivery

This interactive session explored lessons learned from fatherhood programming over the last 30 years. The National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse compiles these lessons to help others in the field.

This session highlighted key resources, including the Responsible Fatherhood Toolkit, which was developed for practitioners. Participants learned about program components that must be carefullyconsidered and delivered in any fatherhood program context, such as effective group facilitation, partnership development, case management, and staff training and support. The presenter modeled group facilitation techniques by drawing on the expertise and experience of workshop participants.

Moderator(s):

  • Tanya Howell, Family Assistance Program Specialist, Office of Family Assistance, Washington, D.C.

Presenter(s):

  • Nigel Vann, Product Development Lead, National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, Silver City, New Mexico

Session Materials:

Hearts of the Fathers: The Perspective of Program Participants

Participants had the chance to kick up their feet and feel a father’s heart beat in this session designed to inspire, challenge, and warm hearts. A “Dad Cave” format set the stage for an invigorating, insightful, and personal conversation with four ACF program fathers (and their kids) who shared both the challenges and triumphs of being a dad. They explored what matters most to them as fathers—for themselves, their children and families, and their communities. The panel described structured father engagement activities, such as parenting education and employment skills development. Panel members also discussed how communication skills training can build and strengthen healthy relationships, including father/child, couples, co-parent, workplace, and other social interactions. Participants learned how father focused programming can help kindle the hearts of fathers and children toward each other, and ultimately support society.

Moderator(s):

  • David Jones, Management Analyst, Office of Head Start, Washington, D.C.
  • Kenneth Braswell, Project Director, National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, Dunwoody, Georgia
  • Patrick Patterson, Project Manager, National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, Raleigh, North Carolina

Presenter(s):

  • Demetrious Jones, Baltimore Responsible Fatherhood Program Graduate, Center for Urban Families, Baltimore, Maryland
  • Bunker Kerr, The City of Chattanooga Head Start/Early Head Start Program Participant, Chattanooga, Tennessee
  • Bishop Charles Lampkin, Porter-Leath Early Head Start Program Participant, Memphis, Tennessee
  • Joseph Stiltner, A Father’s Place Program Graduate, South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families, Columbia, South Carolina

Session Materials:

Dad Deprivation and the Boy Crisis: The Essential Role of Today’s Fathers in Preparing Tomorrow’s Fathers

A boy crisis, fueled by dad deprivation, is expanding in the 63 largest developed nations. Research shows that on average, dad-deprived boys (and girls) do worse in every academic subject and in “failure to launch.” Dad-deprived boys are more likely to have poor mental health, abuse substances, and attempt suicide.

Dr. Farrell presented the case that dad-deprived boys experience both a “dad void” and a “purpose void.” He offered solutions in the spheres of family, school, and government. He also explored why addressing the boy crisis is key to the nation’s economic security and to building strong, healthy dads, families, and communities of tomorrow.

Moderator(s):

  • Scott Lekan, Commissioner, Office of Child Support Enforcement, Washington, D.C.

Presenter(s):

  • Dr. Warren Farrell, Author, The Boy Crisis, Mill Valley, California

Session Materials:

Connecting Fathers and Families Through Child Support

The child support program plays an important role to help fathers gain access to resources they need to move their families toward self-sufficiency. In this session, state child support staff discussed how they can partner with fatherhood programs to better equip fathers to meet their child support obligations.

Presenters helped dispel myths and negative stereotypes about the child support program. They also described promotional strategies that can counter misleading information about the intent and goal of the child support program.
 
Presenters showed how child support staff can help fathers prepare for work, overcome legal challenges, address substance abuse, and deal with behavioral health issues so they can be involved in their children’s lives. The panel also discussed how fatherhood programs can develop effective partnerships with state and local child support offices. Panel members highlighted two important child support tools that can assist fathers: modifying child support orders and reinstating licenses.
Moderator(s):

  • James Murray, Senior Advisor, Office of Child Support Enforcement, Washington, D.C.

Presenter(s):

  • Demetricus Johnson, Program Specialist, Region 4 Office of Child Support Enforcement
  • Charlie Davis, Coordinator Employment and Education, Tennessee Department of Human Services
  • Patti Wood, Director of Operations, Tennessee Department of Human Services
  • Karen Y. Walker, Director of Family Assistance Contracts, Tennessee Department of Human Services
  • Kiska Dennis-Gear, Fatherhood Program Manager, Georgia Department of Human Services
  • John Hurst, Deputy Director, Georgia Department of Human Services

Session Materials:

Engaging Noncustodial Parents to Improve Outcomes for Children: Findings from Research and Practice

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nationally, about 80 percent of noncustodial parents (NCPs) are fathers. Programs often need guidance on how to meet the needs of NCPs. In 2018, the Administration for Children and Families released impact findings from Parents and Children Together (PACT), a rigorous study of four Responsible Fatherhood (RF) grantees funded from 2011-2015. This landmark research highlights fatherhood program approaches to engage fathers, encourage responsible parenting, and ultimately, improve outcomes for children.

Drawing upon the PACT study, the panel described strategies that demonstrated evidence of effectiveness. Presenters summarized the barriers fathers in the study faced and the approaches RF programs used to help overcome those barriers. Presenters also highlighted human services agencies that are pursuing innovative strategies to engage NCPs using Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funds. Two program administrators shared their reflections on the needs of NCPs that warrant greater attention and what programs can do to improve their outcomes.

Moderator(s):

  • Lisa Washington-Thomas, Branch Chief, Self-Sufficiency Branch, Office of Family Assistance, Washington, D.C.

Presenter(s):

  • Dr. Reginald Covington, Senior Researcher, Mathematica, Washington, D.C.
  • Sarah Culp, Colorado Parent Employment Project/Parents to Work Case Manager, Arapahoe County, Colorado
  • Cheri Tillis, Executive Director, Family Support Center, St. Louis, Missouri

Session Materials:

Fired Up and Ready to Go! Fathers Leading Positive Community Change

“Think big, act practically, and let your light shine” are key tenets of the Citizen Father Project, a program promoting leadership among fathers in the Minneapolis area. Developed through a partnership between a university and a fatherhood program, the Citizen Father Project forges relationships between fathers and professionals to build healthy families and communities. The project’s goal is to create community social change by addressing the problem of fathers not being positively involved in the lives of their children. Leaders draw upon parental resilience and collaborative social connections to bring about positive change.

This session featured video clips about the creation, philosophy, and work of the Citizen Father Project. Also, a panel of citizen fathers described how the project has provided them opportunities to develop as leaders and apply lessons they have learned to influence their broader community. Participants discussed this approach as a model for developing the leadership potential of highachieving fathers in other communities.

Moderator(s):

  • Barbara Spoor, Family Assistance Program Specialist, Office of Family Assistance, Washington, D.C.

Presenter(s):

  • Guy Bowling, Director, Goodwill Easter Seals FATHER Project, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Michael Russell, FATHER Project Graduate, Goodwill/Easter Seals, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Damian Winfield, FATHER Project Graduate, Goodwill/Easter Seals, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Session Materials:

Focusing on Family Safety: Findings from the Preventing and Addressing Intimate Violence when Engaging Dads Study

For some families served by federally-funded Responsible Fatherhood programs, intimate partner violence can interfere with the achievement of program goals. In such families, fathers may behave violently or use coercion or control against their partners. They also may be victims or survivors of violence themselves.

This session summarized findings from the Preventing and Addressing Intimate Violence when Engaging Dads (PAIVED) study, which outlines possible approaches for federally-funded Responsible Fatherhood programs.

The PAIVED study team conducted a comprehensive review of several fatherhood programs and their partner organizations. Presenters discussed the findings, present promising practices, describe common challenges, and encourage reflection on how community organizations can do more to prevent violence in families. The session featured two representatives from federally-funded Responsible Fatherhood grantee organizations who will describe their intimate partner violence approaches and discuss their challenges and successes.

Moderator(s):

  • Millicent Crawford, Family Assistance Program Specialist, Office of Family Assistance, Washington, D.C.

Presenter(s):

  • Kirk Berry, Director of Project D.A.D., People for People, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Tammie Eppley, Director, Red Oak Center, Centerstone, Columbus, Indiana
  • Dr. Elizabeth Karberg, Senior Research Scientist, Child Trends, Bethesda, Maryland
  • Dr. Mindy Scott, Program Area Director, Child Trends, Bethesda, Maryland

Session Materials:

Good Marketing Fans the Flame: The Responsible Fatherhood Media Campaign Toolkit

High-quality marketing materials can help local practitioners promote fatherhood programsand generate excitement about the responsible fatherhood message. The Responsible Fatherhood Media Campaign Toolkit is a free and easy-to-use resource to reach fathers, community members, social media followers, and local media.

This session described toolkit resources, including the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse’s Dad Jokes public service announcements (PSAs) and the new Dance Like a Dad campaign. The presentation explored how practitioners can use professionally-produced materials, such as videos, still images, customizable flyers, and social graphics. The presenter also provided tips and strategies for promoting the fatherhood PSA campaign to local media.

By the end of this session, participants were empowered and inspired to use the toolkit to share the responsible fatherhood message in their own communities. And they learned some new dance moves and dad jokes as well!

Moderator(s):

  • Meghan Heffron, Family Assistance Program Specialist, Office of Family Assistance, Washington, D.C.

Presenter(s):

  • Madeline Miller, Campaign Director, The Ad Council, New York, New York

Session Materials:

Healing the Father’s Heart: Addressing the Anger Within

Children who do not have consistently-engaged fathers can experience profound economic, social, and emotional fall-out. For boys who have been rejected, abandoned, or abused by their fathers, feelings of anger can become overwhelming and lead to destructive behavioral patterns. These patterns may be compounded by negative stereotypes, aggression, and societal expectations of “manliness.”

This session highlighted how addressing fathers’ emotions is key in any fatherhood program. The session began with a screening of brief excerpts from the documentary Spit’in Anger: Venom of a Fatherless Son, which tells the story of Kenneth Braswell, executive director of Fathers Incorporated. Braswell’s journey moves from anger to healing through the guidance of several experts. Then, in a group conversation, participants reflected on the documentary and the traumatic impact of father absence. The discussion focused on the intimate connection between emotions and promoting responsible fatherhood.
Moderator(s):

  • James Butler, Family Assistance Program Specialist, Office of Family Assistance, Washington, D.C.

Presenter(s):

  • Kenneth Braswell, Executive Director, Fathers Incorporated, Dunwoody, Georgia

Session Materials:

Know the FLOW: Fatherhood Efforts Led by Outstanding Women

From policy to practice, funding, and organizational founding, women play a pivotal role in the promotion of responsible fatherhood. John C. Maxwell defines a leader as “one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” This session features three women—dynamic fatherhood program leaders—who know, go, and show the way to effective father engagement, strong program implementation, and continuous quality improvement.

Good leaders possess qualities that are unrelated to gender: honesty and integrity, compassion and commitment, inspiration and empathy, competence and confidence. But given the predominance of women in the human services sector, what unique perspectives do female leaders bring to fatherhood services? What specific challenges do they face? What resources do they rely upon to achieve success?

These highly-respected panelists described why and how they lead fatherhood efforts and what differences they are making for fathers and families across the country.

Moderator(s):

  • Geneva Ware-Rice, Senior Program Consultant, Office of Family Assistance, Washington, D.C.

Presenter(s):

  • Avis Files, Program Director, Pathways, Inc., Toledo, Ohio
  • Dr. Alicia La Hoz., Founder and CEO, Family Bridges, Wheaton, Illinois
  • Mary Weaver, Executive Director, Friends Outside in Los Angeles County, Pasadena, California

Session Materials:

Positive Reentry After Incarceration

Research has shown that fathers returning to their families and communities after incarceration often face multiple challenges, including lack of housing or employment, large child support debt, and complicated family relationships. This discussion will explore a variety of ways in which fatherhood programming can help returning fathers and their families overcome these challenges.

The panel included a researcher, two practitioners, and a program participant who will highlight strategies for providing reentry services and support for returning fathers. Based on Urban Institute research, the session offered key considerations and recommendations for correctional agencies and community organizations looking to implement effective practices to facilitate formerly incarcerated fathers’ positive reentry to their families and communities. The panel also provided a list of helpful resources.

Moderator(s):

  • Tanya Howell, Family Assistance Program Specialist, Office of Family Assistance, Washington, D.C.

Presenter(s):

  • Lindsey Cramer, Research Associate, The Urban Institute, Washington, D.C.
  • Dontre Crawford, Program Participant, Family ReEntry, Young Fathers Reentry Project, Bridgeport, Connecticut
  • Darin Goff, Program Director, Washington State Department of Corrections, Turnwater, Washington
  • Daee McKnight, Program Manager, Family ReEntry, Inc., Young Fathers Reentry Project, Bridgeport, Connecticut

Session Materials:

When a Man Become a Dad: Discovering a Dad's Journey

This session will begin by asking each participant to visualize what might have been her or his dad’s joie de vivre, the glint in his eye. Participants will then consider the gap between their dad’s glint and his reality. Did he forfeit his dreams to do something that fulfilled him less but paid him more? Did “success” mean less time with his family?

While some dads address that dilemma with pride and a new glint, others may respond with fear, drug and alcohol abuse, affairs, or abandonment. This session explores a “Father’s Catch-22”: the expectation that a dad will love his family by being away from the love of his family, thus leaving him lonely.

Often, neither schools nor families prepare young men for the conflicting responsibilities of fatherhood. The presenter described the concept of “father warriors” by examining how schools and families can better prepare young men for a transition in purpose so they can become respected “fathers of tomorrow.” The session also explored public policy changes that could deepen father-child bonds.

Moderator(s):

  • John Allen, Family Assistance Program Specialist/Contracting Officer Representative, Office of Family Assistance, Washington, D.C.

Presenter(s):

  • Dr. Warren Farrell, Author, The Boy Crisis, Mill Valley, California

Session Materials:

Together in Harmony - The Heart of Fatherhood Through Song

Music brings people together, touching the heart and igniting the spirit. It is an essential part of many families’ lives, connecting generations and communities. This interactive session will harness the power of music—and innate ability—as participants collectively create a theme song for the National Fatherhood Summit.

Through the process of story and song, participants were invited to share common interests, goals, and concerns as they worked together turning ideas into lyrics and lyrics into an inspired, family-focused song about fanning the fatherhood fire!

Led by award-winning songwriters, this engaging session created new connections among attendees. Participants celebrated their common interests and share their fire for fatherhood through the experience of making music together.

Moderator(s):

  • Seth Chamberlain, Branch Chief for Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood, Office of Family Assistance, Washington, D.C.

Presenter(s):

  • Billy Kirsch, President, Kidbilly Music, LLC, Nashville, Tennessee

Session Materials:

Audio Download:

Gather Around the CampFIRE for Action Planning

This dynamic action planning session provided a forum for discussing individual and collaborative initiatives that can advance Family-focused and Interconnected services that cultivate Resilience and embrace the Essential role of fathers. This session included staggered time periods for participants to have lunch.

 

Presenter(s):

  • Dr. Julia Elligers, Senior Manager, Government and Public Services Strategy, Deloitte Consulting LLP, Arlington, Virginia

Closing Plenary Session

This session sounded the Summit’s rallying call to action. Participants heard about big ideas and tangible next steps that were shared during the action planning session. The Summit concluded with final remarks from Dr. Wade Horn, Managing Director at Deloitte Consulting and former Assistant Secretary for Children and Families. Dr. Horn expounded upon future prospects for fathers, their families, the organizations that support them, and the broader fatherhood field.

Presenter(s):

  • Dr. Julia Elligers, Senior Manager, Government and Public Services Strategy, Deloitte Consulting LLP, Arlington, Virginia
  • Dr. Wade Horn, Managing Director, Deloitte Consulting LLP, Raleigh, North Carolina

Session Materials: