All over the country, federally funded Head Start programs promote the school readiness of young children ages birth through five from families with low incomes. These programs provide early education and a range of comprehensive services at no cost to the family. Although Head Start programs have historically empowered parents to be involved in their children’s learning and development, it’s been more common for mothers to be the focus of those efforts. Realizing the important role that fathers play in their children’s development and the family’s well-being, Head Start is increasingly working to engage fathers in program services.
This episode of On the Evidence focuses on Bright Beginnings, a nonprofit in Washington, DC, that provides both center-based and home-based Head Start programming for children and families. It is notable for its robust set of services and supports that are designed to help families by helping fathers.
The guests for this episode are Danielle DeLisle, a research analyst at Mathematica, and two employees at Bright Beginnings, Anthony Sessoms and Ryan Pratt. Sessoms oversees the nonprofit’s fatherhood initiative. Pratt is a maintenance technician at Bright Beginnings and a father who has participated in its fatherhood programming. This episode was made possible with support from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
This episode returns to a topic On the Evidence has explored before: fathers’ engagement in human services programs. Fathers play an important role in their children’s development, and most fathers want to be involved with their children’s lives. However, many government and nonprofit programs were originally designed to serve women and children, and excluded fathers in the process.
That’s starting to change. More government agencies, nonprofits, and researchers are exploring strategies that embrace fathers’ desire to be involved with their children. ASPE has partnered with Mathematica to study strategies for including and engaging fathers in social service programming. The ultimate goal is to better support the well-being of families.
The episode has two parts: a long-form conversation about Bright Beginnings with Sessoms and Pratt, followed by a brief discussion with DeLisle about related research from Mathematica and ASPE.
Learn more about the partnership between ASPE and Mathematica to identify the strategies human services programs use to engage fathers: https://aspe.hhs.gov/father-engagement
Listen to a previous episode of On the Evidence about how fatherhood programs pivoted to keep engaging fathers during the COVID-19 pandemic: http://mathematica.org/blogs/how-fatherhood-programs-supported-dads-during-the-pandemic
A transcript of the episode is available here: http://mathematica.org/blogs/new-insights-from-an-early-childhood-nonprofit-that-supports-fathers
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