Whether your fatherhood program is a small, independent initiative or part of a larger organization, it is important to have buy-in and support of all your staff. All staff should take part in training about the overall program mission and goals as well as awareness training about the needs of fathers. Supportive staff contribute to an environment where all fathers and families feel welcome and safe.
Staff need to understand the program in order to talk positively about it. Motivating fathers begins the minute they physically walk into the program. From the receptionist, to each caseworker or program staff they cross paths with, it is every staff person’s job to welcome fathers and their families. Bad experiences or not feeling welcomed or “wanted” will quickly turn away fathers and shared quickly with other potential participants. If your program has typically worked with mothers and children in the past, staff need to focus on sharing how the program is important and focus on positively reaching out to fathers.
Tips & Best Practices
- All employees need to be able to:
- Be positive and able to communicate the mission, program goals, and key programs/initiatives to fathers.
- Be able to actively listen and understand what individual fathers need, and not try to provide a one-size fits all approach.
- Empathize and build trust and relationships with potential participants (some program graduates make successful recruiters because they have “been there, done that”).
- To ensure there is a good fit, and given the demands of working in a fatherhood program, some programs ask potential employees to attend group sessions or accompany staff on home visits.
- Employees need different skill sets to fit different roles.This may include skills in community outreach, such as marketing and sales skills. It may include case management and social work skills. Or, employees must need skills for recruiting participants, which may include the ability to communicate, empathize, and build relationships with potential participants. Some program graduates make successful recruiters because they have “been there, done that” already.
Is it okay to hire an external expert?
- Yes, it is okay to go outside for expertise. If you have contracted, part-time, and volunteer staff make sure they:
- Deliver services to meet program goals.
- Have enough time for preparation and review.
Should fatherhood programs offer ongoing trainings to staff?
- Yes, effective fatherhood programs typically provide training for new staff and ongoing staff development to ensure employees are:
- Knowledgeable in program content and teaching skills.
- Sensitive to participants’ cultural backgrounds.
What are a few traits a successful fatherhood program coordinator should have?
- A successful fatherhood program coordinator should have:
- Understanding of the important role fathers play in healthy child development.
- Passion for getting fathers involved in the lives of their children.
- Empathy, respect, and high expectations for all fathers, regardless of their backgrounds.
- Ability and desire to build bridges between women and men, and mothers and fathers.
- Knowledge of and connections to the community.