County Fatherhood Networks
Over the past ten years, OPNFF and the Ohio Commission on Fatherhood have worked together in a productive public-private partnership to support the mobilization of county networks to support father inclusive practice.  This has led to to the development of some established networks in some counties.  Does your county have a fatherhood collaborative or network?  Please take our fatherhood program survey and let us know about your work!  

Click here to see a list of some of the existing county fatherhood networks and click here to learn more about the Ohio Commission on Fatherhood's County Fatherhood Initiative
Fathering Strong

Ohio Nonprofit Develops Innovative Tool for Father Engagement - by Reverend Eli Williams

I likely don’t have to tell you that engaging men in programming is challenging. The reasons are varied and complex. Many fathers face personal obstacles like unemployment, substance abuse, mental health issues, or incarceration, which can make participating in services difficult. Not all fathers understand the benefits of engagement or may feel discouraged due to negative past experiences with social services. Traditional gender roles can create a perception that mothers are the primary caregivers, discouraging fathers from seeking help or asserting their role.

Add to those reasons the institutional barriers that persist. Unconscious biases towards fathers, particularly fathers of color or with disadvantaged backgrounds, can lead to exclusion and unfair treatment. Agencies may struggle to allocate enough staff, funding, and training to engage fathers with diverse needs effectively. Services are often geared towards mothers as primary caregivers, making fathers feel unwelcome or unable to access relevant support. Scheduling conflicts, transportation issues, and childcare difficulties can prevent fathers from attending appointments or participating in programs. All of that is not to mention the challenges of identifying and locating fathers, building trust and rapport, one-size-fits-all approaches, and the lack of sustainability of father-focused programs and organizations.

With this challenge in mind, Urban Light Ministries, based in Springfield, Ohio, has created an innovative approach to addressing the challenge of father engagement.  Realizing that smartphones have become the strongest tool for communication, with 85% of all U.S. adults owning one, it made sense to use these tools for father engagement. The nonprofit’s founder and director, Reverend Eli Williams, also a longtime member of the OPNFF board, teamed up with marketing and Internet technologies expert Bruce Stapleton to create a website and mobile platform to enable fathers to connect and form mutually supportive virtual communities. In 2019, just before the COVID-19 global pandemic, Williams, a veteran fatherhood practitioner and author of the book Father Love – The Powerful Resource Every Child Needs, recognized the need to go virtual to reach more fathers. Stapleton, a volunteer and later the chair of the Urban Light board, provided the know-how. 

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What's New in Fatherhood!

The OPNFF Board of Directors provided a Virtual Fatherhood Practitioner Training as part of the 2020 Ohio Fatherhood Summit.  click here to view the recording

You can now SEARCH for Programs on our website. Is your program in our database? Please take our survey today to make sure your fatherhood program is included in our database and help us learn more about the scope of fatherhood work in our state.

Membership in OPNFF is free and open to anyone!  Join a network of over 1200 fatherhood practitioners and advocates today.  Go to Join Us, fill out our online form and click submit tio become a member and receive our emails.  It is as simple as that! 

The federal Administration of Children and Families has released an extensive information memorandum to strongly encourage all human services agencies to prioritize and enhance father engagement.  read more...

The IRS has released a new Publication 5307 to help individuals and families understand how the tax law affects them.  Please share this information!

Here is what our members say about OPNFF:

"OPNFF is my lifeline for keeping up with everything important relating to fatherhood in Ohio."
-David Justus, Director of the Northcoast Fatherhood Initiative

"As with any rural community-based organization, communication is always an issue.  OPNFF helps in relieving us of some of that burden through updates, resources and information."
-Tony Foreman, Executive Director of Families Forward



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