More than 20 million children in America under the age of 18 live in a home without the physical presence of a father. Many are children of color, according to a 2017 report from the U.S. Census Bureau. Yet, studies show that involved fathers – especially biological ones – have an enormous impact on the emotional, developmental, social and intellectual growth of their children.
Power of Fathers was created in 2015 when Chicago, Illinois-based Children’s Home + Aid formed a unique collaboration with three community-based agencies – Fathers, Families and Healthy Communities; Family Focus; and Metropolitan Family Services – to improve outcomes for young children by bettering the life circumstances of their fathers. Leveraging the strengths of each organization, Power of Fathers provides coordinated education, employment, health and legal services and support to help fathers in the historically underserved Chicago communities of Greater Englewood and North Lawndale address life issues, become financially self-sufficient, boost their parenting skills and improve their connection with their children.
Power of Fathers is uniquely multifaceted in its approach. The program uses a broad range of innovative strategies that are designed to (1) individually impact outcomes for fathers and their children; (2) organizationally impact how social services agencies increase their father engagement practices and policies; and (3) systematically impact state and local policies, systems and programs so that they more effectively contribute to well-being, safety and permanency outcomes for fathers, children and families.
“Many fathers face obstacles, such as unemployment, lack of co-parenting skills and their own negative childhood experiences, that prevent them from engaging positively with their children,” said Ed Davies, Project Director at Children’s Home + Aid. “Power of Fathers is helping to rewrite that story for 100 fathers and their families each year. Along with our early education programs, which annually impact the lives of 2,300 children and 5,000 parents, our collaboration gives us the capacity to increase our reach to more than 100,000 children, fathers and mothers each year by providing a model for replication across Illinois and the nation.”