Documentation and Sustainability
Even if a fatherhood program builds a strong staff, gains momentum in its community, and becomes recognized for providing quality services, sustainability challenges can remain if funding sources and community issues shift. Ultimately, programs succeed because they deliver effective services and can adapt to a changing fiscal landscape. Hiring a part-time or full-time grant writer can help a program broaden its funding base. But programs must also be able to demonstrate a track record of outcomes and accomplishments. Having a solid record of success can help a program mature into a long-lasting community institution. Therefore, consistent, comprehensive data collection should always be part of a program’s design.
Data collection tools should be clear, efficient, and tied in a logical way to program implementation. Management and leadership should articulate the importance and rationale of tracking information and encourage full staff engagement in the process. The data can be used to:
- Demonstrate program success.
- Identify areas for program modifications and improvements
- Provides a powerful story for local and state government agencies, foundations, businesses, and other partners who can have an important impact on long-term program sustainability.
The Dads Make a Difference program of Healthy Families San Angelo, in Texas measures its success based on outcomes that include:
- Number of established paternities.
- Number of dads with on-time child support payments.
- Child well-being: extent to which children are current on immunizations and well-care visits and whether they have a permanent provider of medical care.
- Number of dads who participate in regular home visits to help them understand children’s developmental stages.
- Positive involvement of dads in the parenting of their children.
Through extensive data collection and evaluation, the program has documented:
- 74% of participants are Hispanic.
- Dads range in age from 13 to 40, with an average age of 20.
- 97% of moms and dads regularly participate in home visits.
- 84% of mothers and fathers are working, in school, or in job training programs.
- Nearly all (96%) have participated in the paternity and child support/establishment process.
- 87% are positively involved in parenting their children as demonstrated by:
- Attending to children’s health and safety needs.
- Showing interest in and knowledge of the developmental stages of their children based on their responses to a developmental assessment.
- Engaging in developmentally appropriate stimulation with their children.
- Providing primary child care at least once a week for two hours.
The Center for Urban Families (CFUF) is a Baltimore, MD, program that serves a predominantly African-American population. It focuses on outcomes such as:
- Reduced recidivism.
- Increased employment; jobs earning at least $15 an hour.
- Increased awareness of the child support system and its obligations.
The mission of CFUF is to strengthen urban communities by helping fathers and families achieve stability and economic success. That mission is accomplished in a variety of ways:
- In the last five years, CFUF has secured more than 2,100 jobs for Baltimore city residents, with 21.7% going to residents with serious barriers to employment, including criminal background.
- In addition to job readiness training, between 2010 and 2013, 70 participants received training and certifications in fork lift, food service, abetment, and construction.
- As a result of the Baltimore Responsible Father Project, 33 enrolled fathers who owe child support have contributed more than $87,000 to their child support payments.