agencies and programs working
with fathers. The initiative
encourages male caregivers to be
responsibly involved with (and, in
turn, have a positive influence on)
the children in their lives. That the
AFII was originally funded by a
private corporation, Encana, shows
more than mothers and health
professionals see the benefits of father
“Encana felt that it was important
to address father involvement
because a majority of their employees
were men, a majority of the men were
dads, a majority of the dads worked
away from home,” Dillion says.
“They felt it was important to have
something that promoted responsible
More employers — from oil and
gas to the Canadian military— are
recognizing their employees are
happier and more fulfilled when
given the opportunity to interact
more with their children.
How to become involved
Being involved in a child’s life is as
simple as being involved.
You can read your child a story at
night or help make breakfast in the
morning. You watch the ballet lessons
and you juggle your schedule to go to
the parent/teacher interview.
You share laughs, sit down for dinner
and go for walks together. These
experiences are serve and return
interactions (see page 11).
For me, fatherhood is sometimes
a little daunting — isn’t every parent
in awe of parenting once in a while?
But I am increasingly conscious
that the opportunities to connect
with my son before he grows up are
fleeting. I know every effort I make
to be involved is worth it, not just
for my son or his mother, but for me.
Being involved makes me actually
enjoy being a dad, even if my son
sometimes thinks I’m from another
Defining the involved
“You can’t paint a picture of what an
involved father looks like,” says Stewart
Adams, a group leader of the Father
Involvement Program offered in Red Deer
by Family Services of Central Alberta.
Playing together, reading, sharing family
dinners and countless other activities
from planting a garden to riding bikes will
benefit children, “if it’s aimed at helping
them be a better person. That’s going to
look different from one relationship to
Adams says parents will know when
they’re involved and when they’re not.
For research purposes, Dr. Marsha Kline
Pruett, the Maconda Brown O’Connor
Chair in Research at the Smith School
of Social Work, a clinical/community
psychologist and a faculty member of the
Alberta Family Wellness Initiative, defines
an involved father (or male caregiver) who,
in his relationship with children, is:
— Lucas Warren
The Alberta Family Wellness Initiative (AF WI) offers the Supporting Father Involvement (SFI)
program at four locations, and through four different community groups in Alberta. Designed for
families of all backgrounds and based on research, the pilot programs encourage fathers to become
or stay positively involved with their young children.
To learn more, contact the SFI program nearest you:
•;Family;Services;of;Central;Alberta;(Red;Deer): 403-343-6400 or firstname.lastname@example.org
•;Family;Centre;Society;of;Southern;Alberta;(Lethbridge): 403-320-4232 or
•;Western;Rocky;View;Parent;Link;Centre;(Cochrane): 403-851-2250 or email@example.com.
— Terry Bullick