Responsible Fatherhood

Program LogoFatherhood—Family–focused, Interconnected, Resilient, and Essential

(Fatherhood FIRE) (Adult Fathers)

Photo montage of fathers

Studies have shown that involved fathers provide practical support in raising children and serve as models for their development (Amato, 1998). Children with involved, loving fathers are significantly more likely to do well in school, have healthy self-esteem, and exhibit empathy and pro-social behavior compared to children who have uninvolved fathers (Yoder et al., 2016; Cabrera et al., 2017). Additionally, more engaged fathers—whether living with or apart from their children, can help foster a child's healthy physical, emotional, and social development (Cabrera & Tamis-Lemonda, 2012).

OFA identifies these qualities of Fatherhood—Family-focused, Interconnected, Resilient, and Essential (Fatherhood FIRE)—as representative of the passion, warmth, vision, intensity, and love all fathers have for their families, and as the inspiration for the activities funded under this grant program. Fatherhood FIRE grants fund projects that integrate robust economic stability services, healthy marriage education, and activities designed to foster responsible parenting. Grantees also serve fathers who are within nine months of release from incarceration and who intend to return to their communities and families.

Currently, OFA funds 58 organizations across the United States to provide Responsible Fatherhood services. Grantees are called upon to help fathers who are ages 18 years and older who have children ages 24 years and younger to provide comprehensive healthy relationship and marriage education services, as well as job and career advancement activities to advance economic stability and overall improved family well-being. The Fatherhood FIRE grantees can provide a range of activities including:

  • Promoting Marriage or Sustaining Marriage – Activities to promote marriage or sustain marriage such as:
    • Education regarding how to control aggressive behavior;
    • Disseminating information on the causes of domestic violence and child abuse;
    • Marriage preparation programs;
    • Premarital counseling;
    • Skills-based marriage education; financial planning seminars, including improving a family’s ability to manage family business affairs effectively by means such as education, counseling, or mentoring on matters related to family finances, including household management, budgeting, banking, and handling of financial transactions and home maintenance; and
    • Divorce education and reduction programs, including mediation and counseling.
  • Responsible Parenting – Activities to promote responsible parenting, such as:
    • Counseling, mentoring, and mediation;
    • Disseminating information about good parenting practices;
    • Skills-based parenting education;
    • Encouraging child support payments; and
    • Other methods.
  • Economic Stability – Activities to foster economic stability, such as:
    • Helping fathers improve their economic status by providing activities such as Work First services, job training, subsidized employment, job retention, job enhancement, and encouraging education, including career-advancing education;
    • Dissemination of employment materials;
    • Coordination with existing employment services such as welfare-to-work programs and referrals to local employment training initiatives; and
    • Other methods.

National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse

The Clearinghouse ( Visit disclaimer page ) serves as a resource for responsible fatherhood information (Visit disclaimer page). It is designed to promote and encourage the appropriate involvement of fathers in their children's lives. The Clearinghouse provides access to curricula, webinars, research products, and other resources to improve the implementation and success of their programs. The Clearinghouse also conducts a dynamic national fatherhood media campaign in collaboration with the Ad Council. The national media campaign’s PSAs are powerful and engaging and serve as a reminder to fathers that even the smallest moments can make a difference in a child’s life. Finally, the media campaign serves as a call to action to encourage fathers everywhere to #TakeTimeToBeADadToday, #MakeAMoment, #DanceLikeADad, and show their #Dadication even when parenting isn’t easy.


Amato, P. R. (1998). More than money? Men's contributions to their children's lives. In A. Booth & A. C. Crouter (Eds.), Men in families: When do they get involved? What difference does it make? (241–278). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.

Cabrera N., Karberg E., Malin J., & Aldoney D. (2017).The magic of play: Low-income mothers’ and fathers’ playfulness and children’s emotion regulation and vocabulary skills. The Journal of Infant Mental Health, 38(6), 757-771. doi: 10.1002/imhj.21682.

Cabrera, N., Tamis-LeMonda, C.S., Bradley, R., Shannon, J.D., & Hancock, G.R. (2012). Parenting during early childhood in low-income families: Variation by child gender. Family Science, 3, 201-214.

Yoder, J. R., Brisson, D., & Lopez, A. (2016). Moving beyond fatherhood involvement: The association between father–child relationship quality and youth delinquency trajectories. Family Relations: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Applied Family Studies, 65(3), 462–476.

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