Recognizing the Importance of Fathers

One out of every three children in America —more than 24 million in total — live in a home without their biological father present, according to a 2012 White House Fatherhood Report. Roughly one out of every three Hispanic children and more than half of African-American children also live in homes without their biological fathers.

The presence and involvement of a child’s parents protect children from a number of vulnerabilities. More engaged fathers — whether living with or apart from their children — can help foster a child’s healthy physical, emotional, and social development. While evidence shows that children benefit most from the involvement of resident fathers, research also has highlighted the positive effect that nonresident fathers can have on their children’s lives.

Recognizing the importance of fathers in children’s physical, emotional, and social development, Shirley Jones, a program specialist in the Department of Education’s regional office in Chicago, partnered with the Detroit Area Dad’s PTA and the Detroit Public School system. Together, they organized the “Dads to Dads” forum at Detroit Collegiate Preparatory High School at Northwestern, where 350 men, women, and young adults committed to a day of discussion on how to best support children in their communities.

National PTA President Otha Thornton, one of the speakers at the forum, challenged the parent participants to identify the barriers that prevent them from being more involved in their children’s education and lives. He also talked about finding ways to overcome these barriers and encouraged dads to develop visions for their kids’ futures.

Mentoring programs, support groups, and other resources – such as places of worship, school PTA’s, and local governments – were also presented as places where fathers might turn for support.

Panelist Rev. Dr. James Perkins spoke during the final session and stated, “Your sons and daughters will learn what’s important by what’s important to you.” He stressed that fathers can encourage their children by spending time with them, which will have a lasting impact.

Anna Leach is a confidential assistant for the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the U.S. Department of Education.


  1. I first want to apologize for my English writing, I am learning and that is why I write here. I would say that you wrote a very interesting article and although parents are increasingly more involved in their children’s lives remains to be done. We try to emphasize on this aspect empowering the padres primerizos (new parents)

  2. Father’s role in life of a kid is very well defined in this article. I personally think, every parent should spend sometime learning how they can improve their relationship with their child and how to positively influence his or her life. Educational institutions can also play an important role by educating parents. The organisations like NCF are doing great job by providing some useful reading material backed with research to help fathers become better role model for their kids.

  3. This is an excellent article that focuses on the importance of male role models for being able to positively impact the lives of children. This article hits very close to home. Having my father pass away when I was seven years old in second grade. I very well understand how important it is for male role models to step up and mentor students to reach their potential in education and life.

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