Revamped Curriculum Helps Atlanta-Area Fathers Build Community and Parenting Skills

Posted October 6, 2023
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
A middle-aged Black man, with a salt-and-pepper beard, smiles while sitting in a barber’s chair. He wears a smock that reads, “Black Dads Count.”

The Con­nect Par­ent Group, a grantee of the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion, has part­nered with Atlanta-based Fathers Incor­po­rat­ed to deliv­er its par­ent­ing skills pro­gram to Black fathers in the city. The 10-week, evi­dence-based cur­ricu­lum uses com­mu­ni­ty-informed par­ent­ing resources to address the unique chal­lenges and oppor­tu­ni­ties that come with par­ent­ing ado­les­cents and young adults. Its aim is two-pronged:

  • improv­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion between par­ents and their teens; and
  • strength­en­ing or rebuild­ing bonds, espe­cial­ly when sep­a­ra­tion has occurred.

The Foundation’s Atlanta Civic Site helped iden­ti­fy Fathers Incor­po­rat­ed for this col­lab­o­ra­tion because of its well-estab­lished father­hood engage­ment efforts. The pro­gram is admin­is­tered at Roy­al Roots, a Black-owned bar­ber­shop locat­ed in East Point, Georgia.

Com­mu­ni­ty orga­ni­za­tions are like the neigh­bor­hood experts; they know best where pro­grams would be most effec­tive and what par­ents in their com­mu­ni­ty are say­ing they need in order to sup­port their old­er youth in the tran­si­tion to adult­hood. Fathers Incor­po­rat­ed is a great exam­ple,” says Veo­la Green, a Casey senior associate.

The Fathers Incor­po­rat­ed team learned to teach a com­mu­ni­ty-based ver­sion of the Con­nect cur­ricu­lum, in which 12 par­ents engage in group dis­cus­sion and reflect on their par­ent­ing skills and the needs of their chil­dren. Par­tic­i­pants also watch and take part in role-play exer­cis­es that high­light effec­tive choic­es for respond­ing to teen or young adult behavior.

The par­tic­i­pat­ing fathers not­ed sev­er­al par­tic­u­lar­ly effec­tive aspects of the program: 

  1. A mutu­al learn­ing expe­ri­ence. Each father brought a unique per­spec­tive and his own wis­dom to group dis­cus­sions. Facil­i­ta­tors encour­aged par­tic­i­pants to view their par­ent­ing sit­u­a­tions through the lens­es of oth­ers and lis­ten to oth­er fathers to learn more effec­tive ways to com­mu­ni­cate and bond with their children.
  2. A safe space for nav­i­gat­ing chal­lenges. Fathers, espe­cial­ly young fathers who feel their every move is scru­ti­nized, were more like­ly to open­ly share their sit­u­a­tions with oth­ers and seek guid­ance when they felt that they could do so with­out judg­ment from their peers or facilitators.
  3. Cul­tur­al­ly rel­e­vant design. Cul­tur­al norms influ­ence how a par­ent com­mu­ni­cates with their teen or young adult. Facil­i­ta­tors engaged in role-play that was sen­si­tive to how social mores might show up in par­tic­i­pants’ par­ent­ing and helped them iden­ti­fy ways to approach the sit­u­a­tion differently.

Mov­ing for­ward, Fathers Incor­po­rat­ed wants to train oth­er com­mu­ni­ty-lev­el orga­ni­za­tions to deliv­er Con­nect and hopes to expand the ini­tia­tive across the Greater Atlanta region.

Joc­quell McDaniel, a father who par­tic­i­pat­ed in the pro­gram, says the expe­ri­ence gave him the oppor­tu­ni­ty to reassess how he com­mu­ni­cates with his son.

These young men are teach­ing me to take a step back, think about what my son is need­ing from me — whether it be con­nec­tion, attach­ment, some atten­tion — [which] allows me to give him what he needs and be a more effec­tive father.”

Learn more about engag­ing youth and adults

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