Saint Francis Launches Fatherhood Initiative After Grant

The Daily Record

A grant of nearly $5 million will help to strengthen relationships between children and their fathers.

Saint Francis Ministries has received a grant of $988,062 each year for five years from the Administration for Children and Families, the nonprofit said in a release. The grant will pay for the Saint Francis Fatherhood FIRE program, allowing for its expansion from Kansas to include Nebraska and Texas.

Todd Hadnot, project director for the Fatherhood FIRE program, said the program will include: education about parenting; working to establish economic stability for the families; increased focus on serving the mothers who are connected to the fathers, even if they are no longer together as a couple; increased education and support for fathers who have been involved in domestic violence; and serving fathers from the communities who need the support, and not just through referrals from the child welfare system.

“Twenty or 30 years ago, we were raised totally different than the way children need to be raised today,” Hadnot said. “One of the main things is being able to show feelings and emotions, letting our kids know it was OK to cry. They were often taught big boys don’t cry. We remove a lot of those stereotypes and let the dads know it’s OK to be emotional around their kids in a healthy way.”

Many fathers in the Kansas program did not have good role models in their birth families, said Cheryl Rathbun, Saint Francis corporate vice president of clinical. Saint Francis researched father absence, poverty and domestic violence within its geographic service areas, as well as on the demographic data of families who are involved in the child welfare system, to develop a model that responds to the needs of fathers.

“Dads are so important,” Rathbun said. “Saint Francis knows that fathers have an invaluable impact on their children’s physical, social, emotional, spiritual and financial wellbeing.”

The University of Kansas will act as a third-party, independent evaluator for the program.


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