Promoting the value of America’s fathers

Promoting the value of America’s fathers
Jun 18, 2021
2 MIN. READ
Helping fathers get—and stay—involved in their children’s lives 

Dads matter! New dads, veteran dads, divorced dads, LGBTQ+ dads, single dads. All dads matter.

"Dads want to be involved and it shows in the number of local and national events that have successfully created new and lasting father/child memories,” says project director Patrick Patterson.

He should know. He’s worked with fathers and families for the past 20+ years. And has managed the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (NRFC) for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services since 2010.

We use high-tech and high-touch strategies to engage the American public in evidence-based principles behind responsible fatherhood. We digitally transformed NRFC’s Fatherhood.gov—rearchitecting the website, moving it to a cloud-based platform, and constructing a searchable virtual library of 4,000+ resources.

In addition to maintaining DadTalk, a blog for parents and advocates, we field hundreds of calls each year from dads and parents in crisis. “Our call center is staffed with people trained in conflict management,” Patrick explains. “We provide legal education and support to help dads and moms find the resources they need. And do our best to soothe tense situations.”

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“Everybody has a fatherhood story. Some great, some…not so great. These stories connect us. They deepen the bond between parents and their children.” – Patrick Patterson

Being a dad every day

And every Father’s Day, we launch an annual media campaign to encourage dads to get and stay involved in their kids' lives every day—whether they’re in the home or not. 

This year’s theme is #Dadication and features public service announcements from dads of diverse backgrounds and circumstances who are doing what it takes to be part of their children’s daily lives. “As a dad of two teenage daughters, I see how my own wife and kids benefit from my involvement, and how this type of involvement benefits other families as well.”

Patrick doesn’t just work on media campaigns. He works with fathers directly—advising them, conducting training, and speaking at conferences in the U.S. and abroad. So far, in seven different countries and 45 U.S. states. “It’s eye-opening. Despite cultural differences, the level of family dysfunction is consistent. Regardless of ethnicity or location, the tears from a father’s absence look the same.”  

“The experience is the same, and the impact is the same. Kids need their fathers, no matter where you are.” – Patrick Patterson

Involved dads are on the rise

One positive outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic is that dad involvement is increasing. A 2020 report by Harvard University suggests that almost 70% of fathers across race, class, educational attainment, and political affiliation in the U.S. felt closer to their children during the pandemic. This is a positive step as research shows that kids who grow up with a present, engaged dad are more likely to stay in school. Less likely to engage in high-risk behaviors. And more likely to have good jobs and healthy relationships when they grow up. 

Over the years, Patrick has helped a lot of families. But to him, it’s more than a job, sharing “In all my years doing this, I’ve never felt like I’ve been at work.”  

Campaign images and video provided by the Ad Council.