Dads Take Your Child to School
On September 20, 2011, over 9,000 dads across New York State accompanied their children to school or Head Start at the beginning of the school day. This project is a product of strong collaboration among the Administration for Children and Families, Region II, New York State's Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance and Office of Children and Family Services, the Stronger Families New York Coalition, other statewide partners, and New York City agencies including the Departments of Youth and Community Development, Education, the Mayor's Office, and the Administration for Children's Services.
Growing tremendously over the past five years, Dads Take Your Child to School (DTYCTS) in 2011 had state-wide participation from 106 schools and 99 Head Start locations, along with over 50 community-based partner organizations. Schools recruited dads for the event; they were encouraged to accompany their children to school 15-30 minutes before classes began. Many sites began with a morning celebration that welcomed dads and provided them with information about continuing their involvement with the school. Some sites were able to secure in-kind donations of food, t-shirts or children’s books. Depending on the age-level of the school, father involvement activities were scheduled for the morning only or throughout the entire day.
DTYCTS is rooted in the mission of promoting father involvement in educational settings. Studies overwhelmingly argue that the more fathers are involved with their children, the better the outcomes. Positive paternal involvement is associated with improvements in academic performance, cognitive development, behavior, psychosocial development, health and well-being, household economics and overall parenting quality. Father involvement in particular is especially important for children in low-income, fragile families led by a single mother because these children are at high risk. In these cases, the involvement of a father has been shown to be a protective factor with the potential to alter the child’s life trajectory.
One Head Start staff member commented, "The males appreciated the opportunity to take part in this activity with their children. Some dads and children cried when it was time to go. Some dads commented, 'it’s good to know we can come back anytime.' We even had a mom say it brought her to tears to think we would plan such an awesome event. Her husband was deployed in Afghanistan for a year. He got back recently and was sent to help with flooding down south. They enjoyed this special time and were grateful for such an event. The children were happy as well".