Wykinia Culbreth, Georgia Department of Public Health
Tiara Giddings, Morehouse School of Medicine
The Georgia Department of Public Health (GA DPH) Maternal and Child Health Section within the Division of Health Promotion partnered with the National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) to support the work of the Strong Fathers Strong Families Georgia Coalition (SFSF GA). SFSF GA Coalition is the multidisciplinary advisory team created to lead the state’s efforts of intentionally engaging fathers in MCH programs and impacting adverse outcomes in maternal and child health. SFSF GA utilized NFI’s Community Mobilization Approach (CMA) as a framework to effectively manage a community-wide collaborative process and create an obtainable vision for mobilizing partners around fatherhood. Community mobilization is increasingly used globally as a needs-based model to identify, respond to, and drive the need for change in communities. This model promotes consideration and improvements across all areas of public health. Morehouse School of Medicine Prevention Research Center, an academic partner of the SFSF GA Coalition, is designated for community engagement at Morehouse School of Medicine and served as the lead for the CMA process.
On January 13, 2021, NFI held a four-hour CMA workshop for 13 SFSF GA coalition members and metro Atlanta leaders. During the workshop, NFI’s CMA was introduced. Three distinct phases of the CMA include: (1) a needs and assets assessment of metro Atlanta abilities to promote father involvement; (2) a fatherhood Leadership Summit that metro Atlanta county leaders will attend; and (3) implementation of an action plan for a fatherhood initiative generated by a broad cross-section of sectors.
The community needs and assets assessment helped identify the need to promote or support father involvement; existing programs and services that serve fathers in metro Atlanta; the gaps in services and programs for fathers; the assets in metro Atlanta that can be mobilized to promote father involvement; effective strategies to promote father involvement in metro Atlanta; and existing barriers within metro Atlanta that hinder father involvement. During the CMA workshop, leaders agreed on topic areas based on the issues related to father involvement, in data collection. Secondary data were compiled on the following topic areas: incarceration, employment, education, poverty, housing, hunger/food insecurity, mental health, and physical health. To complement the secondary data collection, two-hour discussion groups were held with community leaders from diverse sectors. Information about programs and resources for fathers was collected through discussion groups and an environmental scan of existing program websites. In addition, an agency resource survey was compiled, mapped according to the type of resource (e.g., counseling services, co-parenting services, employment services), and then shared.
Serving as the landmark of the CMA, the FathersMatter: Mobilizing Fatherhood in Metro Atlanta Leadership Summit was held on March 3, 2021. Embracing an assets-based, strengths-based perspective for the fathers in-metro Atlanta, 186 attendees exchanged ideas regarding actions to promote responsible fatherhood community-wide and across various sectors.
Leaders from multiple sectors were invited to collaborate on action plans based on these seven strategies that resulted from the work of the leadership summit:
- Connecting fathers to resources and each other
- Reaching fathers
- Improving relationships (between men & institutions and between co-parents)
- Supporting inner healing
- Reclaiming the narrative
- Addressing mass incarceration
- Implementing father-friendly policies.
Leaders were divided into small groups to work together on the action plans. Each action plan has its multisector implementation committee to carry out and evaluate the progress of each proposed activity with the leadership and support of the SFSF GA Coalition.
The SFSF GA Coalition is committed to increasing awareness about the benefits of fatherhood involvement and bringing leaders together to mobilize around improving the well-being of fathers and families. Community leaders will continue to share, develop, and revise action strategies to promote and support father involvement in metro Atlanta