Well-trained facilitation is key to successful fatherhood programs. Training, experience, dedication, and an ability to establish rapport with participants are essential skills for facilitators.
Fatherhood program facilitators can range from contracted individuals, volunteers, part-time, or full-time. Fatherhood programs should determine their best solution based on their staff’s content expertise, facilitation skill level, and available financial resources. It is important that any consultants, part-time staff, and/or volunteers work closely with full-time program staff to ensure they have adequate time for preparation, meet the needs of the group, and focus on program goals. Check out the resources on this page for more information on how to facilitate groups, train facilitators, and create partnerships for co-facilitation.
Tips & Best Practices
- Participation in peer learning and support groups is a key ingredient of many fatherhood programs. When done effectively, group sessions can be the “glue” that keeps fathers involved in a wider program and leads to powerful life changes for them and their families. Check out this tip card that offers guidance to fatherhood practitioners who are facilitating groups.
- Advanced preparation is key to successful facilitation. This blog provides concrete strategies new facilitators can use to successfully prep for facilitating fatherhood groups.
- Learn how others have successfully used facilitation strategies in the past. The Working with Fathers in Groups: Tips to Enhance Your Facilitation Skills webinar covers strategies and lessons learned regarding working with fathers in groups, as well as the distinctions between facilitating and teaching in a group setting.
The Center for Urban Families in Baltimore, MD, emphasizes mediation activities to help parents build co-parenting relationship skills. Sometimes working with traditional third-party mediators, the program prefers non-traditional mediation activities designed to help parents gradually learn to cooperate with each other.
The center also operates Couples Advancing Together, a pilot program in partnership with the Maryland Department of Human Resources. Couples Advancing Together provides healthy relationship skills-building, employment assistance, and case management services for couples with children receiving public benefits through the Department of Social Services. The pilot features a 6-week (12 sessions) curriculum, home visits, and long-term follow-up. Group sessions are led by skilled facilitators who create a learner-centered, positive, respectful, and comfortable environment that allows couples to share their experiences and knowledge with peers. With assistance from family services coordinators and group facilitators, participants develop a family self-sufficiency plan to help them set family and career goals, compete in the job market, and develop family budgets. Transportation assistance, childcare, and dinner for parents and their children are provided.
What are the roles of a facilitator?
Facilitators play four basic roles: engaging, involving, informing, and applying. All four require different skills that end up creating a strong and healthy environment for fathers to bond and hold important conversations.
How can facilitators account for diverse audiences?
Sometimes facilitators find that they need more training or additional expertise to speak to the audience and answer all their questions. Seeking out a co-facilitator can ensure diversity and cultural relevancy in facilitation to match the group they are working with.
What are common mistakes that facilitators make?
Common pitfalls for facilitation are: poor preparation, too much lecturing or dominating the conversation, having a judgmental attitude, and failing to manage poor group behaviors. Reviewing and focusing on these problem areas can strengthen programming or point to a need to contract co-facilitators.