Research and Infographics

NFI Resources and the 5 Protective Factors

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FATHER-INVOLVEMENT PROGRAMS AND RESOURCES FROM NATIONAL FATHERHOOD INITIATIVE® WHY STRENGTHENING FAMILIES EFFORTS SHOULD INCORPORATE FATHER INVOLVEMENT The parent and family characteristics identified in the Strengthening Families Protective Factors Framework are critical for all parents and caregivers. All parents need support for the protective factors in their lives, and children benefit when all of the important adults in their lives have the support they need. Unfortunately, many parent engagement efforts do not effectively engage and support fathers, particularly in early childhood. Even programs and providers that recognize the importance of fathers in their children's lives often fail to reach out specifically to fathers, or to create environments where fathers feel they have a role. Intentional efforts are necessary to make fathers feel welcome and valued in the settings that serve young children, so that they can also receive support to build their protective factors, strengthen their relationships with their children and be the best fathers they can be. Strengthening Families implementation teams at the program, community and state levels can take steps to recognize the strengths and needs of fathers and support father involvement. Some strategies that programs can be encouraged to use include: • Employing men as staff members in varied positions and in significant roles • Creating an environment that is welcoming and inclusive of all family members • Consistently communicating with both fathers and mothers on all issues concerning their children – and making this policy explicit to both parents • Hosting special activities and programs in response to men's expressed interests • Intentionally inviting and encouraging men to become active participants in the program Representatives of local and state fatherhood initiatives can be engaged as partners on Strengthening Families leadership teams to ensure that the needs of fathers are considered in Strengthening Families implementation planning. Materials and resources from National Fatherhood Initiative® (NFI) can support those efforts at all levels. For example, NFI's Community Mobilization Approach™ trains organizations and community leaders to mobilize their communities to address father absence and increase father involvement through broad-based and sector-specific fatherhood initiatives. A 2016 white paper from NFI, Mapping Father-Involvement Programs and Resources to the Protective Factors (http://www.fatherhood.org/hubfs/Father-Involvement-Protective-Factors- Whitepaper-070716.pdf), describes how these resources support fathers in developing each of the Strengthening Families protective factors. These points are summarized on the next page. STRENGTHENING FAMILIES Strengthening Families™ is a research- informed approach to increase family strengths, enhance child development and reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect. It is based on engaging families, programs and communities in building five protective factors: • Parental resilience • Social connections • Knowledge of parenting and child development • Concrete support in times of need • Social and emotional competence of children Using the Strengthening Families framework, more than 30 states are shifting policy and practice to help programs working with children and families focus on protective factors. States apply the Strengthening Families approach in early childhood, child welfare, child abuse prevention and other child and family serving systems. For more information, visit www.strengtheningfamilies.net .

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