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Mel Gravely

Focusing on Fatherhood in the New School Year

learning_activitiesIn Head Start, engaging fathers (and men in general) can be challenging, as many agencies can attest. However, that doesn’t mean that our efforts aren’t important. The appropriate financial support and positive role model of a present father can sometimes make a big difference in the outcome for children. And since Head Start’s mission is not just about educating children, but rather about the needs of the whole child, engaging fathers in new and creative ways is a necessary aspect of our work.

In this blog, I’d like to motivate you to take a renewed focus on fatherhood for this school year, and offer some resources and suggestions for how you might go about that.

Last Father’s Day, Office of Head Start (OHS) published a blog called “A Renewed Focus on Fatherhood.” The author, David Jones, is a Program and Fatherhood Specialist at OHS. In the article, Jones writes about the many programs funded by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), of which Head Start is included, that are focused on fatherhood. This includes both research and program-based initiatives.

Specific to Head Start, Jones mentions the Father Engagement Birth to Five Programming Guide, which I hope you’ve read before at least once. He also gives resources to some research commissioned by the ACF about how best to serve and engage fathers during home visits.

There is the non-profit National Fatherhood Initiative, which I’ve written about before and is a great resource for everything fatherhood. There is also the National Center for Fathering, another non-profit focusing on Fatherhood, with seminars, podcasts, and email distributions that can help you put together your own outreach for fathers.

The key here is to not reinvent the wheel, not only with engaging fathers, but also when you’re putting together all types of focused initiatives. Use what already exists to help you put together informational materials and outreach efforts.

How are you planning on engaging fathers this year? Leave your comments below!

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