Health Education & Promotion
What is Healthy Kent Dads Count! Fatherhood Coalition?
Dads Count! is a community coalition that educates and encourages fathers and father figures to be involved in children’s lives starting from pregnancy and going through all stages of life.
The Dads Count! Fatherhood Coalition is part of a larger organization called Healthy Kent. Healthy Kent is a collaborative community health assessment and improvement initiative in Kent County that works to improve the health and wellbeing of all county residents.
Why is this a focus of the Kent County Health Department (KCHD)?
According to the National Fatherhood Initiative “There is a “father factor” in nearly all the societal issues facing America today.” To help reduce the burden on individuals, families and society, we must empower fathers and father figures to be more involved in their children’s lives.
Compared with children raised in a home with an involved father, children raised in father-absent homes:
- Have a 4 times greater risk of poverty
- Are 7 times more likely to become pregnant as a teen
- Are more likely to suffer from abuse and neglect
- Have twice the risk of dying as an infant
- Are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol
- Are more likely to go to commit crimes and go to prison
- Are twice as likely to drop out of high school
The evidence is clear and compelling: Children raised with an involved father are happier and more well-adjusted both as children and adults. According to research compiled by the National Fatherhood Initiative:
- Allowing new fathers to be involved in caring for their child in the first days of a child's life can have positive long-term benefits.
- Children with involved fathers experience fewer behavioral issues and score higher on reading achievement.
- Teens without fathers were twice as likely to be involved in early sexual activity and seven times more likely to get pregnant as an adolescent.
In situations where a father cannot live with his children, being as actively involved in their lives as possible is shown to increase many of these positive outcomes. Many of these benefits can also come from having an active male father figure in the lives of children whose biological father is not present or involved.
This positive male involvement in children’s lives has valuable effects not only on the health and well-being of those children, but on the father himself, the entire family and the whole community.
How is KCHD addressing this issue?
Dads Count! brings together a variety of organizations that serve families, including public health, social services and education. The Coalition and its member organizations host professional educational opportunities for those who work with families, as well as occasionally holding community events that educate and empower fathers.
Part the goal of Dads Count! is to make it easier for men to be involved with their children, including fathers who do not have full custody of their children, by working with organizations such as family court, in order to help make them more father-friendly.
If you or your organization are interested in becoming involved with Dads Count!, please contact:
Barb Hawkins-Palmer | Barb.Hawkins-Palmer@kentcountymi.gov | (616) 632-7281
Visit our Facebook page Dads Count of Kent County.