Family Partnerships

Facilitating Fatherhood: How Horizons Supports Dads 

Horizons Family Advocates do more than direct service work with the parents in our program – they recognize the unique needs of families and facilitate opportunities for connection, learning and community.  

The relationship between father and child has a deep impact on a child’s overall and long-term healthy development. Recognizing this, Family Advocate Foluke proposed the idea of a monthly meeting for dads to connect with one another to learn helpful parenting tips as well as expand their learning opportunities in finance, career development, and more. Both the visionary and the strategic orchestrator behind the scenes, Foluke networked with Horizons’ partners to create a robust series of valuable workshops to engage Horizons’ fathers. The idea came to fruition in a monthly meeting for dads hosted by the Family Partnerships Program.

Kicking off Father’s Day 2023, 17 dads of different backgrounds and cultures joined the initial workshop to celebrate their role in their child’s life. The primary goal of the first meeting was to build connections amongst the dads, and this was accomplished with a community breakfast and a few games A financial coach and Family Partner from partner organization, the Home for Little Wanderers, spoke about the importance of a father in a child’s life and next steps for our Horizons dads’ group 

Since then, fathers in our program have been meeting the last week of each month to connect with experts and each other on different subjects regarding their role in their child’s life. One workshop focused on the importance of play where fathers gave each other suggestions on how to best bond with their child. Fathers tend to gravitate towards active play – running, jumping, playing hide and seek, taking their kids to the park to exert energy. The workshop also provided suggestions for connecting in the quiet moments such as getting on the floor to stack blocks with their little ones. Horizons’ Playspace Program also provided dads with a bag of developmentally engaging toys to bring home to play with their child. 

Other workshops have focused on the practical skills of everyday life – from navigating tax season to allocating money by percentages for monthly budgeting. Corporate partner Northwestern Mutual provided expert services and education to workshop participants. Other workshop sessions have focused on mental health, real estate/housing, and career development. These workshops serve a dual purpose of developing skills or tools in certain subject areas while also providing fathers a chance to bond and connect with one another to form community.  

“There’s a misconception that fathers are not involved in their child’s life or, when they are, they don’t know the key information about their child – who their teacher is, what they’re learning at school, and so on. While we have many single mothers in our program, we also have many intact family dynamics – in fact, most fathers in our dad’s group are part of an intact family dynamic where both mother and father are co–parenting together. ” shared Foluke. “The majority of fathers enrolled in our program are actively involved in their child’s care and we’re proud to be able to offer these workshops as sessions for them to grow and learn alongside other dads.” 

Through these workshops, fathers and partners have had powerful conversations on a myriad of subjects, all of which would not be possible without the collaborative efforts that make the event a success. Resources have been translated into three different languages – English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole, thanks to Horizons’ staff. Facilitators from Horizons and external partners have helped create enriching presentations and discussions for engagement. Fatherhood is a critical but often overlooked part of shaping a child’s life, and at Horizons, we’re proud to not only celebrate that relationship but also provide opportunities for bonding and ongoing support.  

This piece was written by Andrea Drag, a regular contributor to Horizons’ Blog.