Promoting Responsible Fatherhood and Supporting Men as Parents in Milwaukee

Fatherhood Initiative Milwaukee

Fathers who are engaged in their children’s lives foster healthy physical, emotional and social development. Responsible Parenting workshops and case management services help dads to become the best parents they can be.

Milwaukee Fatherhood FIRE promotes fathers as Family-focused, Interconnected, Resilient and Essential to their children, families and communities. The program provides services and workshops such as parenting, driver’s license recovery, employment, health, child support interest debt relief and more.

What is the FHI?

The Fatherhood Initiative Milwaukee helps men meet the social, emotional and financial needs of their children and families. It provides services including parenting, child support interest debt relief, employment and driver’s license recovery. The organization also hosts the annual Fatherhood Summit to help men connect with resources.

According to the organization, absent-father homes are associated with higher crime rates, urban flight and lowered property values. The program aims to remedy these issues by helping men be more present in the lives of their children.

Those who participate in the program are connected to support networks, educational programs and case specific referrals. They can also get assistance with childcare, housing, job training and education.

For those who are interested in becoming a member, there is a one-time fee of $25. Those members can get access to the Fatherhood Initiative’s events, including the annual Brewers trip and the father-daughter dance. The program also offers a monthly discussion group that tackles various topics such as teen pregnancy and fatherhood.

What is the FHI’s mission?

Children with involved fathers are more likely to succeed in school, be healthier, and have lower rates of substance use, incarceration, mental health issues and teen pregnancy. The FHI’s mission is to help men become responsible, committed and better fathers, which in turn benefits their families and communities.

Natasha Dotson has watched her brother struggle with the challenges of parenting – and it’s led to frustration. “It’s not a good feeling when you know you can do more than you’re doing,” she says.

Dotson joined Milwaukee’s Fatherhood Initiative and found a support system. The organization connects men to resources and workshops on subjects like parenting, employment, health and child support interest debt relief. A community-wide event, the annual Fatherhood Summit, connects men to a network of providers. Services offered include job coaching, resume development and interviewing skills, housing assistance and financial workshops and coaching. The FHI also hosts events such as the Brewers trip and father-daughter dance.

What is the FHI’s goal?

The goal is to foster multi-sectoral collaboration able to support and sustain responsible, involved fathers. Milwaukee County’s Fatherhood-FIRE program promotes fathers as family-focused, interconnected, resilient and essential in their children’s lives, their families, communities and society as a whole.

To meet these goals, the program provides an array of services including education, employment, health and wellness, child and spousal support, parenting, credit repair and assistance with obtaining driver’s licenses. Additionally, it provides case specific father focused support through the use of mentors, group sessions and other activities.

The program’s services are available to biological fathers, stepfathers and other father figures in Milwaukee County. Membership, which costs $25, is required to access the services. Other benefits include a trip to Miller Park for a Brewers game and other promotional discounts at local businesses. The initiative is supported by a grant from the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). The content of this website is solely the responsibility of Milwaukee County Child Support Services and does not necessarily represent the official views of ACF.

What is the FHI’s vision?

Children need involved fathers to promote their social, emotional and academic development. Research shows that children with involved fathers are at lower risk for emotional problems, substance abuse and teen pregnancy. But many human service organizations are primarily mother-focused and need the resources, training and technical assistance to be intentionally and proactively father-inclusive.

The Milwaukee County Fatherhood Initiative (MFI) is one of those organizations. It helps fathers, stepfathers and father-figures in Milwaukee’s communities achieve their goals while becoming responsible parents. It also connects them to services such as child support interest debt relief, job readiness and driver’s license recovery.

The MFI also hosts the state’s largest annual fatherhood summit. It’s a place where men share their experiences and learn from others how to become better fathers. Then they take those lessons back to their neighborhoods. They’re the ones who can change things. They’re the ones who can help kids get off on a strong foot.

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