Welfare Parent Journey
Family Education Programs
National Fatherhood Initiative
- The National Fatherhood Initiative is "the nation's leading non-profit organization working to end father absence" mainly through father education programs. While not exclusively for welfare families, the program was provided by the Child Welfare Information Gateway as a leading parent education program.
- While no survey was available directly on how fathers found out about the programs, the program itself provided a list of the most common recruitment practices used by fatherhood programs. Since these are mentioned by the organization as common and effective recruitment practices, we assume that they illustrate how most fathers found out about the program. The tactics include: referrals from community partners, tactics that support word-of-mouth marketing like "bring a friend" programs, contracts with government agencies and community organizations, print materials in places men frequent (barber shop, sports areas, car repair shops), online advertising, and through local media.
- In terms of community organization partners, the National Fatherhood Initiative suggested "social service programs of government agencies at the federal, state, and local levels (city and county), courts and court-appointed programs, workforce commission/career development/workforce centers, Alcoholics Anonymous and other rehabilitation programs, healthcare organizations, schools, colleges/universities, parole officers, reentry programs, WIC/SNAP offices, churches, Head Start and child care Locations, Parent Teacher Associations (PTA), libraries, YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs and the Salvation Army.
- Since the National Fatherhood Initiative has many programs around the country but no standard application process, the sign up processes of one such program has been provided. The DePelchin Children's Center in Texas offers the 24/7 Dad program from the National Fatherhood Initiative. The programs are offered free to residents of their community and registration is done online. All that is required to sign up is the participants name, email, and phone.
- While no comprehensive survey of motivations for participation in the National Fatherhood Initiatives programs was available, based on statements from dads that had participated, it appears that the motivating factor was an interest in being more involved in their children's lives and becoming better fathers. Additionally, the program specifically appeals to new dads that did not have a father figure growing up, recently divorced dads, or single dads. Lastly, some men are required to participate in such programs as part of their custody agreements, visitation agreements, or substance-abuse treatments.
Strengthening Families Program
- The Strengthening Families Program is a "universal, evidence-based, family prevention program developed and distributed through Iowa State University." While not only for families in the Welfare system, it does attract many families "through referrals from agencies that are serving delinquent or high risk families." Therefore, it is a reasonable assumption that the program serves families involved with the welfare system.
- While no survey was available to hear directly from participants on how they found out about the program, the program itself put out a list of the best recruitment strategies. Since these are mentioned by the organization as common and effective recruitment practices, we assume that they illustrate how most families found out about the program. These tactics include: personal connections (as the most effective strategy), schools or school districts, social media advertising, print advertising, street banners, partnering with existing youth organizations such as "Girl/Boy Scouts, 4‐H, summer camps, sporting organizations, the YMCA, and church youth groups," fliers in community spaces like grocery stores, and working with local government and services agencies.
- Since the program is offered throughout the country with no standard application process, the sign up processes of one such program has been provided. The Foothills Alliance in Anderson, SC provides the Strengthening Families Program. They have an online sign-up form which can be found here.
- While no comprehensive survey of motivations for participation in the Strengthening Families Program was available, based on statements from families that had participated, it appears that the motivating factors are to improve family communication and for parents to help their kids transition into adolescence and decrease the risk of their children using substances. Also, some families are required to participate in the program due to their involvement with the court system.
- The Changing Children's World Foundation is based in Geneva, Illinois and offers the The Best Start for Families parenting education program. While the program serves all interested families, the program was provided by the Child Welfare Information Gateway as a leading parent education program. Additionally, the program has a formal contract with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), indicating that they serve many families on welfare.
- While no survey of parents that participated in The Best Start for Families parenting programs was available, the organization seems to rely on two main recruitment methods: word of mouth from community leaders and by partnering with community organizations like schools, government programs and healthcare centers.
- No information on the sign up process could be found even looking at organizations where the class has been held in the past, most likely due to the lack of a standard sign-up practice.
- Motivations of parents for participating in the program included "because they are struggling with everyday child rearing and are lacking useful strategies, because it has been suggested by a friend or a teacher in the kindergarten, or they may be referred to the program by social services."
Welfare Family Program Participation Insights
- While no information was available on programming that families on welfare want, the research team was able to find some information on what type of programming families in poverty want.
- In areas that have a high concentration of families in poverty, "the demand for after school programs in communities of concentrated poverty is much higher than the national average, where more than half of children (56 percent) not in an after school program would be enrolled in one if it were, available to them, compared to the national average of 41 percent."
- Additionally, it was found that "two out of three parents living in communities of concentrated poverty (66 percent) would like their child to take part in a summer learning program, 15 percentage points higher than the national average of 51 percent."
- Families in poverty also want to participate in programs that will help them become self-sufficient, like programs offering financial literacy training and programs to help participants increase their financial savings.
- Based on the programs for families in poverty that seem to be working to lift families out of poverty, in demand programming include those that provide employment and training services, savings programs, and job-finding assistance.
- Other programs that have proved successful provided personal-improvement services such as those designed to teach goal setting, problem-solving, communication skills, child development, parenting, money management and time management.
Motivations for Participating in Additional Programs
- Research has found that there is no difference in the motivating factors for families in poverty and families that are well-off.
- One motivating factor for families to participate in family education programs is being urged to do so individually by an outside source.
- Benefits for their children are one of the main motivating factors for adults in families living in poverty to both enroll their children in quality childcare and to participate in skills training and job programs.
Trends in Program Participation
- For parenting intervention and education programs, recruitment and retention can be challenging. Research has found that for "face-to-face parent training interventions....10 to 34 percent of parents of children in the preschool to grade school age range enroll to participate....[and of] those who do enroll, average attendance ranges from 34 to 50 percent of sessions." Ways to overcome these barriers of recruitment and retention are treating parents as partners, tailoring the service to fit each individual family's needs, and overcoming transportation and childcare related barriers.
- Children of families in poverty participate in fewer sports, extra-curricular and after-school programs than children of middle and upper class families, which experts say "exacerbates the already-growing income achievement gap that has kept poor children behind in school and later in life."
- Programs for adults in poverty focused on job training or education that offer childcare, financial incentives and peer support, see better participation rates, illustrating the need for more multi-faceted programs that target many areas of a family's life rather than one specific area.