With Father’s Day around the corner, initiatives like The FATHER Project, created by Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota (St. Paul), remind us of the work being done to ensure that parents have the opportunity to play a positive role in the lives of their kids. The mission of the program is to assist fathers in overcoming the barriers that prevent them from supporting their children economically and emotionally.
Founded in 1999, the FATHER Project was originally administered by the City of Minneapolis and became a program of the St. Paul Goodwill in 2004. Key partners included parenting providers, employment and training workforce development providers, and child support agencies. The idea was to provide more flexible and less punitive child support solutions, in addition to opportunities to advance employment opportunities, while building parenting skills and bonding opportunities with their children, Fathers who had historically been disengaged due to substantial barriers would become part of the needed support system for raising healthy, happy children.
Since its inception, the FATHER Project has served thousands of fathers in the community through an extensive network of collaborative partners. The program has received national recognition as an effective and innovative program and in 2012 received federal grant funding to expand to other Minnesota communities. Today, the program currently operates out of five locations.
A Return on Investment study by the Wilder foundation showed a long-term financial return of $3.41 for each dollar invested in the FATHER Project. Evaluation results have shown increased parenting skills, educational achievement, job placement, and benefits of the children of participating families. Close collaboration with non-profit and government partners helps make the FATHER Project effective.
To learn more about the FATHER Project watch Goodwill-Easter Seals’ Workforce Development Manager Guy Bowling discuss why the program has been so successful over the years.