A Resource Guide of Best Practices for Pregnant and Parenting Teen Programs
The number of households where the father is absent is steadily increasing across the nation. Each year, 30 percent of all babies in the U.S. are born into families where the father is absent, and approximately 40 percent of American children live in homes in which their fathers do not live. Emotional, physical and financial support of both parents is needed more than ever to raise a strong, healthy family and prevent an increase in social problems.
Adolescent pregnant and parenting programs have primarily focused on serving teen mothers because they are seen as being the primary caregivers and nurturers of children. The fathers may be active in the lives of their children; however, they may live outside of the maternal households. Two-thirds of the babies born to teenage mothers are fathered by adult men. In cases where there is evidence of teenage or adult fathers being involved in parenting programs, their children displayed:
Teen fathers transition quickly into adulthood. They need supports and services that will help them be effective parents and achieve their future goals. Supports and services in any teenage parenting program should include both mothers and fathers. Young fathers need services to address their unique situations.
Recruitment and Programming
One strategy that seems to be very effective is to use male program
staff to recruit, train and provide services to teen fathers. This
does not infer that female staff cannot be effective with teen
fathers. Adult male involvement can strengthen efforts by serving as
positive role models and mentors.
Nontraditional meeting times, places and formats are needed to enhance fathers' participation. Meetings may take place during school hours and/or be scheduled before or after school, at night or on weekends. The hours should be flexible to meet the fathers' school, work and home schedules. These meetings may occur at recreational and sporting events, job shadowing experiences or trips with their children, in addition to regular pregnant and parenting skill building activities. Ideally, most group meetings should be limited to 15 fathers. The meeting rooms should reflect "father-friendly" areas that consist of:
The stages of adolescent development have been accelerated once a teen becomes a father; therefore, the skills that would normally be learned gradually through life must now be accelerated. One of the most important skills to be learned is to take responsibility for oneself and one's children. Pre-employment skills, life skills and parenting skills may be introduced through:
Among the curricula for fatherhood development is "A Curriculum for Young Fathers" written by Pamela Wilson, MSW, and Jeffrey Johnson, Ph.D., in collaboration with Public/Private Ventures and the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation. It includes a teacher/facilitator training package targeting young adolescents. This curriculum serves as a guide and can be modified to meet individual needs. Components include five modules of 25 sessions with assessments and activities on such topics as:
The participant addresses personal attitudes and behaviors before approaching responsibilities of fatherhood.
The participant masters skills to handle relationships with children, partners, employers and peers.
The participant focuses on men's attitudes about roles and responsibilities of fathers; child development and age-appropriate behaviors; influences of fathers on children; discipline techniques; and promoting self-esteem.
The participant assesses and develops relationships; learns communication skills; uses resolutions without conflict and violence; identifies support systems and learns to manage relationships with the children's mother and her family.
Health and Sexuality
The participant learns about the health care system, sexuality, pregnancy prevention strategies and substance abuse and reflects what has been learned and how lives have changed.
Another curriculum that focuses on fatherhood is "Dads Make a Difference," administered from the Minnesota Department of Human Services and the University of Minnesota. Young people are provided with optional overnight or non-overnight trainings. After they have completed training, the students then train younger students. This program is used to give young people the opportunity to:
There are many national programs that address fatherhood and act as
resources to promote fatherhood involvement. Some of the most
National Fatherhood Initiative
National Center on Fathers and
The Governors' Task Force on Fatherhood Promotion
National Center on
Advocates for Youth
The Parent Child Center
Children's Defense Fund
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last updated April 30, 1999
Center for Schools & Communities