Brighter Beginnings is trailblazing a new form of family support with our Fatherhood Programs, helping teen dads prepare for the birth of their child, non-custodial dads reconnect with their children and custodial dads experience the joy of parenting.
It’s tough to be a good father in the best of circumstances. The alternative—father absence—is far, far tougher on children. According to 2009 U.S. Census Bureau data, that’s the case for one out of every three children in America—a staggering 33%.
More sobering still, research shows that children who live without their biological fathers are, on average, five times more likely to be poor and have lower birth weights and higher infant mortality rates. Single mothers without the support of their children’s fathers are twice as likely as married mothers to experience a bout of depression in the prior year; they also report higher levels of stress, fewer contacts with family and friends, less involvement with church or social groups and less overall social support.1
The good news is that most men want to be a good father. Many of the men in our fatherhood program grew up without a dad in the home. Using the same evidence-based practices as all Brighter Beginning’s family-strengthening programs, our Fatherhood Program is designed to address the realities of all the fathers and men in the families we serve, including teen fathers and fathers who have lost custody due to incarceration or substance abuse, as well as those who are married and living with their children.
Our work with all fathers includes a 9-week fatherhood support group, individual coaching and case management, and “daddy-and-me” play groups and family activities that focus on positive parenting. Material covered in the workshop is adapted from two nationally acclaimed curricula in the emerging field of fatherhood development.
The program teaches responsible parenting skills to fathers, delivered in a peer environment. We deliver 27 hours of parenting curriculum in supportive group settings, host father-child events, and family case management to over 150 fathers a year.
One Father’s Story
Alex is 18, and has a 1 year old baby boy. He learned about Brighter Beginnings through the Welfare-to-Work program and has been participating in our Young Parent Opportunity (YPO) program in Oakland for two months now. Alex admits that the program helped him to be a lot more responsible and even pushed him toward enrolling in a GED program. He says, “I feel supported in being a father and am proud of who I am.” Alex also supported the mother of his baby by participating in Brighter Beginning’s Empowering Mothers Initiative to learn more about the stages of parenting and how to be a better parent. Through his experience at Brighter Beginnings, Alex notes, “I have learned to have more patience with my son by learning about the process of growth for a child. I have also learned how good a father I am, compared to my own father. I have learned that I have the ability to present myself in front of others especially in a group setting.”
When asked what advice he would like to pass on to other new fathers, Alex offered, “No matter how hard it is, you should be there for your child. I feel like the first year is the most important part to build the bond between a parent and a child. Support the mother of your child throughout the pregnancy.” And he adds, “Having a child is definitely not for the irresponsible.”
For information regarding the Fatherhood program and services, call 510.437.8950, or toll-free at 877.427.7134.
To refer a family member of friend for any of Brighter Beginnings’ programs, fill out the BB Referral Form and fax to the appropriate center: BB Referral Form