The research is clear: if you want to change the world in your own community, help children get a dad they can count on, no matter what, beginning at birth.
Below are examples of model communities that are making a difference in the lives of their new fathers and new families:
Greater Cleveland Boot Camp for New Dads Initiative
In the fall of 2004, the Community Endeavors Foundation, a small independent foundation in Cleveland, Ohio decided to make an effort to target expectant and new fathers on a countywide basis by launching a childbirth education program designed specifically for fathers at every birthing hospital in Cuyahoga County. The Foundation has funded programs that engage and involve low income fathers in the lives of their children since 1996, but was concerned that they were not directly targeting a “magic moment” to engage fathers in the lives of their children: the childbirth process
The Foundation chose the Boot Camp for New Dads curriculum and contacted area-birthing hospitals to recruit them for the initiative. Seven hospitals expressed enthusiastic interest in participating. Community Endeavors purchased the program licenses for each hospital and arranged for the training of staff from a total of ten hospitals in the Greater Cleveland area (3 hospitals with existing BCND programs were also included in the training).
The response from the hospitals has been inspiring. Steve Killpack, executive director of the Community Endeavors Foundation noted, "Typically, these hospitals are competitors for maternity and other services. This particular initiative is unique because all of these hospitals have placed the focus where it belongs - on the fathers, babies and communities rather than on the health providers. It has been inspiring to witness these hospital systems join together to provide such a valuable community service."
Each hospital received a $3000 grant from Community Endeavors to purchase the curriculum license from the national BCND program and cover their start-up costs. Thus, for a relatively small expense Greater Cleveland now boasts a universal program for expectant fathers in Cuyahoga, Lorain and Geauga Counties. Every new father in these three counties has an opportunity to participate in the BCND program.
The Foundation continues to support the program in a variety of ways: purchasing incentives; marketing the programs through rack cards, brochures and a website, www.neofathering.net, and sponsoring annual training for new and existing coaches and coordinators.
Nine Hospitals participate in the Greater Cleveland Boot Camp for New Dads initiative:
- Cleveland Clinic Health System, which includes Fairview, Hillcrest, Huron and Marymount Hospitals
- University Hospital Health System, which includes McDonald Women's, St. John West Shore and Southwest General Hospitals
- MetroHealth Hospital
- Community Health Partners
For more information, contact Steve Killpack, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Exempla Healthcare – Denver, Colorado
Boot Camp for New Dads has been operating at Exempla Healthcare in Denver, Colorado since 1997. While the program serves an impressive 1200+ fathers per year, what is most notable is the program’s ability to attract high-risk, low-income dads. The program’s effectiveness in the low income community has been enabled by the formation of partnerships with systems already serving poor families.
Boot Camp for New Dads is an information and referral source for many of the clinics serving under-resourced families in the Denver area. This on-going relationship serves as a conduit, which brings fathers in need to Exempla healthcare for the workshop.
Internally, the Boot Camp program works closely with two clinics and a prenatal care incentive program to connect with expectant fathers in need. Like mothers, fathers who participate in classes receive incentive coupons that can be used to purchase baby items in a special store. By participating in Boot Camp for New Dads the father can earn coupons and receive important information about becoming a dad.
In 2005, 316 fathers from families being seen in area clinics participated in a Boot Camp workshop at Exempla Healthcare. 80 of these fathers returned with their babies to serve as veteran dads. More information about this program is available by contacting the program coordinator, Chuck Ault at 303-866-8280.
Boot Camp for New Dads Sets up Camp at Hawaii
Boot Camp for New Dads in Hawaii began with a joint effort between the Tripler Army Medical Center and the Navy Region Hawaii in 2001. Sessions at a local Navy housing community center, located near Hawaii, are a single 3-½ hour program on the second Saturday of every month. The program has spread to Schofield Barracks and Army Community Service is holding the “Boot Camp for New Dads.” In addition to the regular curriculum, the rookies are asked to wear the pregnancy empathy belly to simulate, at least for a few minutes, what the moms are physically going through. The rookies are put through their “paces” while wearing the “empathy belly” by bending over to tie their shoes, picking up things from the floor and even laying down in anticipation of taking a nap. Some rookies have to be helped up. *
This Boot Camp for New Dads was the first one in existence in Hawaii and boasts 10-15 rookies a month. This program has been recently recommended as a “model program” for the Navy. New coaches are trained every month in order to accommodate more rookies. For more information, contact Todd Motoyama at 808-474-1999.
*Note: Although Boot Camp does not recommend the use of an “empathy belly” in most settings, it seems particularly effective in this one. The combination of young fathers, the military setting, and the possibility of great physical distance between mom and dad during pregnancy are all factors that lead to the success of this type of intervention.
Let Us Know About Your Unique Approach
If your community has a unique or notable approach to supporting new fathers, please let us know at email@example.com so we can tell your story too.