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Colorado Department of Human Services
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June 19, 2011

Colorado Promoting Responsible Fatherhood Initiative Releases Report Revealing Significant Gains in Paternal Involvement in the State

From a significant increase in child support compliance to a larger percentage of at-risk fathers who are now aware and better equipped to handle the needs of their children, Colorado’s federally funded Promoting Responsible Fatherhood (PRF) Initiative has helped thousands of fathers in the state be there for their kids, according to an evaluation report released today. The report analyzed outcomes from 63 community and faith-based fatherhood programs funded by this Initiative and the more than 5,000 fathers who participated in the programs since October 2006.

The most striking data issued from this report was a significant increase in child support payments from participating fathers. An analysis of several hundred program participants in 2010 revealed an increase of more than 37 percent in child support payments from the time of enrollment to three months after the completion of a fatherhood program. Within the Jefferson County Fatherhood Program specifically, a 62 percent decrease in arrears owed by dads following the completion of the program was observed.

Data reported from two other funded programs – The Center on Fathering in Colorado Springs and The Pinon Project in Cortez – highlight the impact a parenting class can have on fathers. Pre and post-tests of The Center on Fathering dads showed a statistically significant change in participants’ ability to be aware of their children’s needs and respond appropriately to them. At The Pinon Project, tremendous progress was seen in the domains of family functioning and parenting skills among participating fathers.

In October 2006, the Colorado Department of Human Services, Colorado Works Division was awarded a five year capacity building grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance to strengthen father/child relationships, remove barriers that prevent fathers from being involved in their children’s lives and improve the well being of Colorado’s children. Colorado was one of just two locations in the country, Washington, D.C., being the other location, to receive this grant. The PRF Initiative has distributed approximately $1.1 million in awards to community and faith-based fatherhood programs each year to provide direct services to at-risk fathers, including single dads, non-custodial fathers, incarcerated dads, teen fathers and non-English speaking dads. The primary goals of the PRF Initiative were to:
  1. Strengthen and increase the involvement and parenting skills of fathers of at risk children through community-based direct services.
  2. Build system capacity and community awareness through state level coordination and public outreach activities.
“With the number of participating fathers and funded programs during this grant period as well as a public awareness campaign that has reached hundreds of thousands of Coloradans, we’ve worked hard to build system capacity and awareness of what it means to be a responsible father,” said Dan Welch, fatherhood and family specialist with the Colorado Department of Human Services. “The Initiative’s community access model of funding has provided local programs that know the pulse of their communities with an opportunity to be true advocates for fathers. But, our work is not done yet as Colorado children are still at risk of poor outcomes and thousands of fathers and their children remain apart from each other.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 25 million American children are living in father absent homes today. Two-thirds of African American children do not live with their fathers. Children living in father absent homes are five times more likely to live in poverty; nine times more likely to drop out of high school; and 20 times more likely to be sentenced to prison. Father absence has immediate and long-term costs for children.

Other key facts from the 2011 PRF Evaluation Report include:
  • Funded fatherhood programs worked with a very difficult population of fathers during their grant cycles. Fifty-three percent of participants were unemployed at the time of enrollment; 81 percent had criminal backgrounds; and 67 percent had annual household incomes less than $5,000.
  • Seventy-eight percent of fatherhood program participants did not have primary custody of their children when they enrolled in a program. The services provided by fatherhood programs – case management, parenting skills education, job readiness training, etc. – were designed to assist fathers in increasing their involvement in their children’s lives.
  • One-third of participants did not have legally established paternity of their children at the time of enrollment indicating a need for further education during prenatal development for fathers.
  • Significant gains in fatherhood engagement among Child Support Enforcement and Child Welfare caseworkers have been observed since the start of the federal grant. This has been achieved through multiple statewide trainings, presentations and reports on helping caseworkers view fathers and paternal kin as assets in their caseloads.
“Father absence is a societal issue that can impact all ethnicities and economic backgrounds,” reports Reggie Bicha, executive director of the Colorado Department of Human Services. “Every child in Colorado deserves a father or father figure they can count on. The data released from this evaluation showcase the need for continued fatherhood services throughout the state.”

To view the entire PRF evaluation report, please visit www.coloradodads.com.

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About the Colorado Promoting Responsible Fatherhood Initiative:
In October 2006, the Colorado Department of Human Services, Colorado Works Division was awarded a $10 million federal grant over five years to strengthen father/child relationships and improve parenting. Colorado is one of just two locations nationwide, including Washington, D.C., to receive this federal community access grant. The Promoting Responsible Fatherhood Initiative distributes more than $1.1 million in awards to state, community and faith based organizations to assist in providing direct services to fathers and families. Awards of up to $50,000 are distributed per program per fiscal year. For more information on a fatherhood program in your community, please visit www.coloradodads.com.