Bringing Families Together: True Care Implements Fatherhood Program
Did you know that one in four American children live without a father in the home? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 20 million children in this country have absent fathers. This problem affects kids in many ways, including a four times greater risk of growing up in poverty, two times more likely to drop out of high school, and seven times more likely to become pregnant as a teenager. With the help of the National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI), True Care hopes to impact Casper’s children, and therefore, families in a more positive way.
Fathering in 15
Fathering in 15, a program developed by NFI, became the latest program offered at True Care, starting in February 2018. Offered at no-cost to the boyfriends and husbands of our patients, the program is comprised of seven 30-minute segments plus an initial meeting with Rebecca Tharp, our Program Director. Dads-to-be learn more about themselves and how to be good fathers. Topics include “Being a Man and Dad,” “Talking with Mom,” “Co-parenting,” “Child Development,” and “Managing Money,” among others.
“Our goal is to engage more dads in the lives of their children,” Rebecca said. “Fathering in 15 is an easy yet engaging program that takes only 15 minutes per lesson, so for those dads who work and have other stressors affecting their time, the shorter program makes it easier to fit their schedules.”
The dads meet with True Care Advocates who are also leading our female patients through the Baby & Me Program. The additional 30 minutes for him is tacked onto the nearly one-hour spent teaching the mother-to-be things like breastfeeding and labor and delivery. The couple sits in on all sessions together; he learns what she is learning and vice-versa. Rebecca says the education for both benefits both.
“She likes that he’s there for the pre-natal sessions. He’s learning what she’s learning and she learns what he learns,” Rebecca said.
The program can be mobile and accessed at home, however, at True Care we’ve chosen to have Advocates lead the lessons at True Care, just as we do for the moms-to-be through Baby & Me. The primary reason for this is accountability and knowing the man actually completed the lessons and the program.
Why a Program for Dads?
Knowing the importance of fathers in the lives of their children, True Care had attempted other ways to meet with dads-to-be, including using male advocates to mentor young men. However, due to various circumstances, including mentors’ and prospective participants’ schedules, our staff decided to try the Fathering in 15 path. Eight guys signed up for the inaugural program, and so far, three have graduated. Each man who completes the program receives a $100 gift card. The youngest participant has been a high school senior; the oldest is 29. Both the men and their partners seem to like the program as do the Advocates, Rebecca reports.
Using a trustworthy organization’s program for fathers-to-be assures us an impact will be made on families. NFI provides additional statistics on children with absent dads, such as a two-times greater risk of infant mortality and greater risk of behavioral problems, of committing a crime, and of going to prison. By positively impacting dads, we also impact their children and our community.
“The National Fatherhood Initiative is a renowned national organization that’s trying to cultivate a deeper connection between men and their children – they do research, they have credibility, and want to impact the culture of engaging dads,” Rebecca said. “I’d love to see every mama’s guy in the program and more connectedness not only between dads and their children, but also between dads and moms.”
As True Care continues this program through its first year, we appreciate the prayers of our supporters not just for the mothers and their unborn, but also for the fathers and our Fathering in 15 Program.