FATHER Project Uses New Grant and Partnerships to Expand Services

Author: CFFPP . Date: April 18, 2012

Guy Bowling, the manager of the Minneapolis-based FATHER Projectsays he is often asked “When will you have a FATHER Project in our community?” His answer to that question is “Right now!”—in four new communities serving seven counties across Minnesota. The FATHER Project, a 13-year-old program run by Goodwill/Easter Seals Minnesota, is using its recent Responsible Fatherhood grant of more than $1.7 million to replicate and expand its comprehensive services for noncustodial parents to the areas of Park Rapids, Rochester, St. Cloud and St. Paul.

According to Guy Bowling, the expansion is the outgrowth of a strategic plan developed in 2008 to accommodate the growing number of parents asking for services, and to reach diverse cultural communities across the state. Ultimately, he hopes to have a FATHER Project in each of the more than 20 Goodwill stores in Minnesota. He said, “We know that fathers around the state have similar needs… We want to reach out and stretch ourselves further, even in the rural communities.”

Two of the new service locations, in St. Cloud and St. Paul, are “expansion sites” because the program will build on existing Goodwill staff and infrastructure. The other two new locations, in Park Rapids and Rochester, are “replication sites” that will be hosted by partnering organizations. These partnerships were facilitated by theMinnesota Fathers and Families Network (MFFN), which had mobilized several leadership circles around the state to advocate for fathers’ support services. One of MFFN’s leadership circles was in Park Rapids, where the FATHER Project is now partnering with St. Joseph’s Area Health Services. The other leadership circle was in Rochester, where Family Service Rochester is the partner. Guy Bowling notes that “We wanted to partner with agencies that are interested and will take the lead to be the hub for services. You need to start with a hub for fathers to come to… Doing a one-stop shop really works well.”

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