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Step Forward Head Start Celebrates Father Engagement

This Thursday was the Fathers Walk, an agency-wide event supporting father engagement and highlighting the importance male involvement plays in children's lives, in school and at home.

The event, which is celebrated on a national level, saw more than 650 Dads and father figures participating across Step Forward's 10 Head Start sites.

At the event, fathers and their students enjoyed a light breakfast, arts and crafts and the opportunity to sign up for Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, a book gifting program that mails free, high-quality books to children from birth to age five. Fathers in attendance also took the fathers pledge, a pledge to commit to being active participants in the education of the children they support.

“Children have a greater chance of succeeding when their fathers are in their lives...” said Steven Rhodes, Parent Family Community Engagement Coordinator. Studies show that having an involved nurturing father is important for a child's happiness and academic success.1 Rhodes also pointed out that father involvement is beneficial for children's development outside of the classroom as well, with studies showing that the number one factor in developing empathy in children was father involvement. Fathers spending regular time with their children translated into children who became compassionate adults.2

“I would like to dispel the stigma that fathers aren't engaged or don’t want to be engaged...” said Rhodes. “They’re welcome, we need them and we’re going to support them”.

To support parents, Step Forward also offers parenting programs that teach participants about child development and building healthy relationships as well as the Fathering in 15 courses, an online learning tool for fathers that covers topics like family history, grief and loss and co-parenting.

Step Forward is committed to encouraging and supporting Fathers' involvement in their children’s education. To learn more about getting involved, contact Steven Rhodes, Parent Family Community engagement coordinator at 216 696 9077 604, or


Step Forward Head Start is hiring! With new hiring bonus up to $1,000, comprehensive benefits package, tuition assistance and paid vacation time for full-time employees, take a step toward a new fulfilling career today with Step Forward. View and apply to open positions here.


1 ECLKC. 2022. Appreciating How Fathers Give Children a Head Start | ECLKC. [online] Available at:> [Accessed 22 September 2022].

2 Richard Koestner, et al., "The Family Origins of Empathic Concern: A Twent

y-Six Year Longitudinal Study," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 58 (1990): 709-717.

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