Growing up in a household with a father and strong male figures around me, to becoming a father to two beautiful girls of my own, has made it difficult to imagine the reality that there are children that aren’t awarded that same experience. In fact, 24 million children in America -- one out of every three -- live in biological father-absent homes, according to the US Census Bureau.
Personally, the statistics don’t add up when I look at the men that I know with children. Maybe that’s because the CDC also reports that 5 in 6 children have a father present and out of those fathers who are present over 90% of them are active in their child’s lives day in day out. What does that mean when two sets of data seem to contradict themselves? Are dads just getting a bad rap?
No matter the reasoning behind what many consider an American crisis, two young men have made it their life’s mission to redefine what it means to be a father. In doing so, they’ve created the D.A.D Project.
Founded by two young fathers, Daniel Polanco and Donald P. Williams III, the D.A.D Project is a non-profit organization designed to create value for young men through engaging fatherhood workshops, Man Cave events, gender and masculinity workshops, and other social events.
The D.A.D Project is a blossoming organization that is captivating communities from Inglewood to Watts to Glendale. “We began in early childhood development centers just as a way to bring families together. We wanted to be directly involved in the community,” Williams said.
A 2006 study exploring the impact of fathers with their children during the first 10 years of life indicated that children with more involved fathers experienced fewer behavioral problems and scored higher on reading achievement. This study showed the significance of the role of fathers in the lives of at-risk children, even in cases of nonresident fathers.
The D.A.D Project promotes active fatherhood participation through their array of partnerships with organizations and even police departments who support their mission to revitalize the image of fatherhood in America.
“We found that dads actually enjoyed sharing stories about their experiences with their kids once they realized that they all shared similar stories,” Polanco added.
The National Fatherhood Initiative admits that most social programs, despite how good they are, focus solely on mothers and children, leaving fathers with no resources for help in the event they need it. Having an organization that addresses those concerns provides a direct benefit not only to the fathers, but to the children who are the true beneficiaries of having active and engaged fathers in their lives.
Having an organization like the D.A.D Project and others like it, that are aimed at empowering communities, offers the tools for sharpening one’s skills at being a better parent. These young men are improving the quality of life for many families, and they’re doing it one D.A.D at a time.
(Left to right) Donald P. Williams III And Daniel Polanco