Partnering with Responsible Fatherhood Programs

Responsible Fatherhood Programs (RFPs) were created to strengthen positive father-child engagement and improve healthy relationships with partners and co-parents. It is important to point out that these programs were not designed specifically to address domestic violence since most of their participants are not abusive. However, they work to help fathers overcome obstacles and barriers that prevent them from being effective and nurturing parents and partners, and increasingly, they recognize that domestic violence is one of those obstacles.

From 2017 to 2020, Futures Without Violence, Child Trends and Boston Medical Center conducted a study to examine what RFPs are doing to address and prevent domestic violence as a way to improve the outcomes of their programs. The results of the study were encouraging. Among other things, the study found that RFP staff regard DV as a major obstacle to achieve the programmatic and individual goals for the fathers, that DV advocates recognize the importance of involving fathers (even abusive partners) in the lives of children, and that collaboration between RFPs and DV agencies has increased significantly in the last decade. Six Ways Fatherhood Programs Can Successfully Partner with Domestic Violence Agencies and Battering Intervention Programs was developed to guide collaboration between DV agencies and RFPs.

Considerations:

  • Do Responsible Fatherhood Programs operate in your area and if so, have you reached out to them?
  • Have you created opportunities to mutually share values and philosophy about domestic violence and father engagement?
  • How do these programs (and your program) address racism and other systemic equity issues?
  • What type of training and ongoing supervision does the RFP staff receive about domestic violence and children’s exposure to domestic violence?
  • What are the program protocols when participants disclose DV perpetration or victimization? 

Strategies for working together:

  • Developing common vision and principles.
  • Fostering respect and curiosity for each organization’s work.
  • Hosting ongoing conversations on how to collaboratively address racism and other systemic oppressions.
  • Providing cross training and learning about each program’s roles and limitations.
  • Creating mechanisms for support, consultation, and referrals.

Resources