Pregnant and Parenting Teen Initiative



Best Practices

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A Resource Guide of Best Practices for Pregnant and Parenting Teen Programs

Teen Father Services

Sections:
Rationale
Program Components
National Programs
Best Practices

Rationale

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:

positive sex-role development;
better social adjustment;
improved cognitive development; and
higher academic achievement.

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.

Program Components

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.

The recruitment and engagement of adolescent fathers can be accomplished through creative nontraditional collaborations with:

schools;
communities;
recreational facilities;
churches;
businesses; and
civic and men'sorganizations

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:

posters depicting positive male role models;
neutral colors and decor;
evidence of father/child relationships in the forms of photos, cards and posters; and
parenting, nutritional and health information pertinent to teen fathers.

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:

male support groups;
mentors and internships;
role models; and
schools and curriculum.

Curriculum

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:

Personal Development

The participant addresses personal attitudes and behaviors before approaching responsibilities of fatherhood.

Life Skills

The participant masters skills to handle relationships with children, partners, employers and peers.

Responsible Fatherhood

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.

Relationships

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:

discuss and examine the important role of fathers in the lives of their children;
explore the legal, financial and emotional responsibilities of parenting; and
address the risks young people will face in their path to adulthood.

National Programs

There are many national programs that address fatherhood and act as resources to promote fatherhood involvement. Some of the most prominent are:

National Fatherhood Initiative
One Bank Street, Suite 160
Gaithersburg, MD 20878
(301) 948-0599
FAX (301) 948-4325
http://www.fatherhood.org/
Seeks to encourage young fathers to invest the time, commitment and responsibility for good fathering.

National Center on Fathers and Families
University of Pennsylvania
Graduate School of Education
3700 Walnut Street, Box 58
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6216
(215) 573-5500
FAX (215) 573-5508
http://www.ncoff.gse.upenn.edu
Aims to improve the life chances of children and the efficacy of families by facilitating the effective involvement of fathers.

The Governors' Task Force on Fatherhood Promotion
Spearheaded by Governor Tom ridge of Pennsylvania, it is a national effort by governors to promote fatherhood. The objective is to improve the well-being of children by increasing the number of children growing up with involved, committed and responsible fathers in their lives.

A resource guide on fatherhood has been published by Governor Ridge's office and is available upon request. Those with internet access can request a copy through the web page at www.state.pa.us

Fathering Project
Families and Work Institute
330 Seventh Avenue, Suite 1906
New York, NY 10001
(212) 465-2044
Examines fatherhood for the future and creates ways to support the involvement of men in the education and care of their children. Develops worksheets for agencies to assess how they are doing in integrating men in programs.

National Center on Fathering
P.O. Box 413888
Kansas City, MO 64141
(913) 384-4661
FAX (913) 384-4665
http://www.fathers.com
Researches, trains and organizes local organizations throughout the country to work with fathers.

Advocates for Youth
1025 Vermont Avenue, NW
Suite 210
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 347-5700
Provides information, education and advocacy for youth-serving agencies, professionals and policy makers to increase opportunities and abilities to help teens make healthy decisions about sexuality.

The Parent Child Center
Implements on-the-job training for fathers.

Avance
Serves primarily Latinos and provides support groups, home visits, GED classes and outings for fathers and their children.

Children's Defense Fund
25 E Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 628-8787
Provides publications and information about public policy dealing with youth.

SIECUS
130 West 42nd Street, Suite 350
New York, NY 10036
(212) 819-9770
FAX (212) 819-9776
http.//www.siecus.org
Provides information guidelines concerning sexuality education on policy issues. Minnesota's ECFE's state program, Parent Services in San Francisco, Parents as Teachers and Parent Effectiveness Training programs can all be incorporated in teen fathers programs.

Planned Parenthood
810 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY 10019
(800) 669-0156
Local organizations have listings of male support groups that will provide workshops.

Best Practices

The following educational programs incorporate many of the practices described in this section.

Delaware County Intermediate Unit
  The intermediate unit conducts an annual one-day seminar for all teen parents, including fathers. Participants have an opportunity to choose from a series of workshops pertinent to teen father issues, such as career planning, domestic violence, child safety and legal matters.

Contact: Adele Peters (610) 622-0211

Keystone Central High School
  Teen father services include intake and referral, small- and large-group discussions, monitoring of school progress, summer young father classes and a young fathers' evening parenting class.

Contact: Lisa Coslett (717) 893-4956

Philadelphia City School District
  The teen father model used in the Philadelphia School District in collaboration with Communities in Schools of Philadelphia incorporates both classroom settings with innovative add-on supports. Services include: academic instruction; life and employment skills building; parenting education; nutrition and health; and individual and group counseling.

Contact: Treena Reid (215) 875-3171

Erie City School District
  The Father's Workshop program is a collaborative effort between the Erie Family Center, Erie City School District, Erie County Adult Probation, Erie County Office of Children, Youth and Families, and Crossroads/Serenity Drug and Alcohol Program. The mission of the program is to support, counsel, educate and motivate fathers as they develop and strengthen relationships with their children.

Contact: Randall Turner (814) 871-6683

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last updated April 30, 1999


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