Planning and Design
Careful planning before launch can help ensure success and sustainability. Identifying needs, understanding the community, fostering solid partnerships, crafting a thoughtful logic model, and determining the scope of services are important design steps identified by successful practitioners. Well established community organizations may be able to complete the planning process in 2‒3 months, but many organizations will need to devote 6‒12 months or longer to this process.
Planning is an ongoing process. Successful programs monitor their performance and make necessary adjustments to services, staffing, and partnerships to ensure that participant needs and program goals are met.
Key questions for fatherhood program early planning include:
- What community needs should be addressed?
- What will we do to directly address the needs?
- What individuals or organizations in the community provide services that can help address these needs?
- What organizations are already serving fathers?
- Who can we partner with?
- What outcomes and benefits do we anticipate as a result of the program?
- What staffing do we need?
- What are the budget implications? How will we gain additional funding?
- How will we document and assess our efforts in order to make program modifications?
Program Planning and Design ― The South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families (SCCFF) was formed in 2002 as a result of a community needs assessment and grant-making initiative by the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina that began in 1996. A task force considered grant-making opportunities by posing questions such as:
- Is the issue a niche and does it represent an underserved community?
- Is there any available research on the issue and can more research be done?
- Is the issue palatable for public discourse?
- Does the issue satisfy the mission of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine?
Based on the work of this task force, the foundation decided to address the social and economic consequences of father absence through a statewide fatherhood initiative, Reducing Poverty through Father Engagement. A partnership agreement was created with the University of South Carolina to provide technical assistance, synthesize the research that became the best practices of the initiative, and design the program models. Through a second partnership agreement with the South Carolina Department of Social Services to strengthen fragile families, SCCFF was formed with the mission to develop and support a statewide infrastructure deeply invested in repairing and nurturing relationships between fathers and families. Since 2002, SCCFF has worked with numerous programs throughout the state and developed partnerships with other key agencies, such as workforce development, child protective services, and child support enforcement, to encourage program referrals and ensure that a full array of services is available.