TOPEKA – The Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) recognizes the important role that fathers play in the lives of their children. Research shows that children with healthy, involved fathers are more likely to experience positive physical, social, emotional, behavioral and academic outcomes. In an effort support this important role, DCF is proud to launch a new Fatherhood Initiative.
DCF is now partnering with the National Fatherhood Initiative to conduct a Fatherhood Friendly Check-up Assessment across the agency. Staff members from a variety of programs, including contract staff, have been selected to participate in this check-up. The assessment will allow the agency to ensure that all DCF programs and services promote the active participation and inclusion of healthy fathers in the lives of their children. The check-up will give the agency a baseline of where we are excelling in healthy fatherhood engagement and where we still have some work to do.
This agency-wide effort will be led by fatherhood expert George Williams, who works within DCF’s Faith-based and Community Initiatives division.
“The Kansas Department for Children and Families has as one of its objectives strengthening families, and the agency sees the role of the father as an essential component of strong families, and the research literature supports this” Williams said. “DCF is trying to be more effective and intentional in engaging fathers.”
Another effort to encourage staff members to involve both parents consists of new training for social workers.
“One of the classes is “Why Bring Dads into the Picture,” William said. “I’ll be traveling across the state providing classes for social workers on the importance of the role of the dads but also providing some strategies on how they can engage fathers.”
On June 8, DCF participated in the 19th Annual International Fatherhood Conference. The National Partnership for Community Leadership hosted the conference. At the three-day event, fathers, practitioners, policy makers, government employees and faith-based and community organization staff from more than 35 different states gathered in Kansas City, Mo., to focus on informed policy issues regarding healthy father involvement.
Jeffery Johnson, President and Chief Executive Officer for the National Partnership for Community Leadership, addressed the purpose of the conference.
“We not only want to work with moms and dads, we want to help them be the best parents they can be under their circumstances, which translates into the success of children,” Johnson said. “This [event] is all about helping children reach their highest human potential.”
DCF Child Support Services Director Trisha Thomas was among the speakers at the conference.
Child Support Services Supports Father Involvement
Since 2013, DCF has provided grants targeted at non-custodial parents, to give them the tools they need to be successful in life and involved with their families.
“Right now, DCF has quite a few things we are doing to engage fathers,” Thomas said. “We have community grants to have classes for fathers to really work on their employment skills, how they interact with their children, domestic violence awareness and prevention and other relationship skills.”
The Fatherhood Initiative grants serve non-custodial fathers who want to reconnect and provide for their children. The program works with fathers to increase skills, overcome barriers and become engaged, responsible fathers. Child Support Services also offers debt-forgiveness programs to non-custodial parents who complete the class, obtain education degrees or contribute to 529 college savings accounts for their children.