This paper includes a review of the literature on why fathers matter and statistical data on fathers in New Orleans, followed by stategies for educators, service providers, policymakers, and others to engage and support fathers. Six model programs are highlighted, which successfully address the challenges faced by low-income African-American fathers in New Orleans.
- Positive father involvement is related to higher cognitive and verbal skills, greater self-esteem and empathy, and decreased likelihood to engage in delinquent and unhealthy behaviors.
- It is estimated that roughly 79 percent of African-American children born in New Orleans during 2010-2011 had nonresident or cohabitating fathers.
- Among nonresident fathers, research found that African Americans were likely to have greater contact with their young children than white or Hispanic fathers.
- When educators and family service providers fail to question unspoken assumptions that parental involvement means mother involvement, they further marginalize fathers.
- Service agencies can support father involvement by providing staff training and development to reinforce the important role of fathers and eliminate negative assumptions. In addition, they can recruit fathers to become involved with planning and offer programming that meets fathers' needs.