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Strategic Framework

Minnesota Fathers & Families Network (MFFN)
Strategic Framework for 2015

Our new strategic framework reaffirms — first and foremost — the urgency and continued importance of our mission and the critical role we play in providing informed practice, public policy, and system change work – all for the benefit of the fatherhood field. In a world where the landscape of funding, human services, and community needs is changing at an increasingly fast pace, we have recommitted ourselves to remaining nimble in our ability to adapt to new challenges and anticipate others.

This Framework is not static; it is a living tool that will serve to guide our work into the future. We are committed to reviewing it regularly to ensure a thoughtful approach to strategic management that helps MFFN achieve its mission.

Who We Are
The Minnesota Father and Family Network (MFFN) guides professionals and volunteers to strengthen father-child relationships and improve the health of families statewide.

Since MFFN is a statewide network organization, MFFN’s community in the broadest sense is the entire state of Minnesota. Through our regional seminar series (intensive 1-day trainings at sites statewide), annual conference, web-based information, technical assistance offerings, and network of service providers, we directly help many family professionals and agencies to grow their capacity to promote healthy fatherhood in families and communities across the state.

Vision: Healthy fathers = Healthy children/families = Healthy communities

Mission: MFFN promotes healthy father-child-family relationships through informed practice, public policy and system change.

Beneficiaries of our services: (the end recipients of the work of our mission)
Primary Focus: the father-child-family relationship
Secondary Focus: fathers, children, co-parenting relationships, families and communities

Target Audiences (who we need to reach directly)

1. Service providers & systems players that are committed to programs and systems that support healthy and secure father-child relationships
     a. Nonprofit community-based organizations
     b. Government (e.g., Child Support, Child Protection, Public Health)
     c. Legal community
     d. Faith community
     e. Health care
     f. Criminal justice
     g. Educators and education institutions
     h. Employers
2. Community associations & statewide associations
3. Public policymakers

Collaborators (who we must mobilize to support our cause)

1. Quality father-child and family service providers, systems leaders, & trainers
2. System leaders of related fields (e.g., education, early education, health, and public safety)
3. Media
4. Business Community
5. Funders (private and public)

Stakeholders (decision-makers and “influencers” who can affect the future of MFFN)

1. Practitioners who work directly with fathers/families
2. State, county, and local public policy decision-makers
3. Funders, donors, members
4. Business community

Partners (who support us in monetary or in-kind terms)
Any entity or organization that we align with who shares our mission and/or goals.

What We Value and Believe:

  1. MFFN primarily targets the father-child-family relationship as the key beneficiary of our work.

  2. MFFN values fathers as an essential resource for building strong families, strong citizenship and for encouraging child growth and development.

  3. MFFN believes fathers and mothers both have primary responsibility for supporting, nurturing and guiding their children’s learning and development.

  4. MFFN believes fathers and mothers merit equal opportunities to enhance and develop their capacity as responsible, engaged parents.

  5. MFFN embraces diversity among Minnesotans and its divergent cultural norms regarding family structure, family formation, and co-parenting relationships.

  6. MFFN embraces communities without regard to race, ability, color, creed, religion, gender, age, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, veteran status, gender orientation or sexual orientation.

  7. MFFN values education as a means to counteract negative stereotypes about fatherhood and to promote positive male socialization.

  8. MFFN encourages evidence/best/promising-based programming for fathers and families.

  9. MFFN believes that effective fatherhood practitioners model positive behavior, learn from personal/professional experiences, seek formal educational credentialing and continuing educational opportunities, and interact with supportive peer networks.

  10. MFFN fosters legislation that positively impacts how state agencies and organizations support father-child-family relationships.

  11. MFFN convenes a statewide nonpartisan network in order to support practitioners and direct service providers in their work with Minnesota’s fathers and families.

  12. MFFN uses innovation and appropriate technology to reach and involve our constituencies.

  13. MFFN believes that, in order for children and families to thrive, whole communities – families, individuals, non-profits, public systems, policy makers, the private sector, employers, and funders – need to work in partnership and collaboration.

Our Operating Philosophies:

  • We are mission-driven.

  • We are accessible and responsive.

  • We embrace a strength-based approach in our work with fathers-children-families.

  • We follow best and promising practices in our work.

  • We operate with transparency and with accountability.

  • We respect and honor confidentiality and data privacy.

  • We are committed to upholding and supporting our staff and volunteers.

  • We believe in the power of community partnerships.

  • We are good stewards of our resources.

What we Know
Research has shown that fathers, no matter what their income or cultural background, can play a critical role in their children’s education. When fathers are involved, their children learn more, perform better in school, and exhibit healthier behavior. Even when fathers do not share a home with their children, their active involvement can have a lasting and positive impact.

Father involvement protects children from engaging in delinquent behavior and is associated with less substance abuse among adolescents, less delinquency, less drug use, truancy, and stealing and a lower frequency of externalizing and internalizing symptoms such as acting out, disruptive behavior, depression, sadness, and lying.

How we Make a Difference
While working with fathers creates benefits for the whole family, it also supports community development. Fatherhood programming works across systems to strengthen the safety net and, at the same time, to lessen its necessity. Our work positively impacts child welfare programs; Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); Head Start; child support; and other family services and supports. When fathers contribute to the financial and emotional health of the family, poverty is diminished. In many concrete ways, healthy fathers are anti-poverty agents.

The long-term impact of our work is this paradigm shift: seeing and utilizing fathers as integral components of families; of seeing families as key clients in social services programs; of utilizing these safety net programs to diminish poverty, increase educational achievement, and strengthen families across Minnesota.

How we Demonstrate Impact
Short Term:

  • Increase in knowledge about the benefits of father-child engagement

  • Increase in skills for implementing father-friendly and father-inclusive program practices

  • Increase in commitment to utilizing research-based practices

  • Increase in confidence to engage fathers through effective programming

Medium Term:

  • Increase in the use of father-aware, father-friendly, and father-inclusive principles among Minnesota organizations, especially among non-profits and government agencies serving diverse communities with the greatest needs

Long Term:

  • Increase in the number of fathers, mothers, and families who receive healthy messages about fatherhood and participate in father-friendly or father-inclusive services

  • Increase in the number of children who experience positive relationships with fathers and father-figures

  • Increase in the number of children who benefit from their father by experiencing higher academic achievement, increased cognitive competence, lower rates of truancy and teen pregnancy, lower poverty, and/or increased self-esteem

How We Sustain our Work
We view sustainability in its broadest sense – remaining vital and relevant, doing great work, and being nimble enough to adapt quickly to changing environments. In doing so, we believe we can maintain a healthy balance sheet and cash flow that helps us to maintain and execute our mission. Our sustainability as an organization will be achieved by …

  • Exploring new program and social entrepreneurial opportunities that enhance or enable us to further our mission and lead us towards increased financial sustainability.

  • Maintaining an organizational culture that encourages innovation, non-traditional staffing, and teamwork.

  • Remaining open to opportunities and dialogue regarding collaborative opportunities, strategic partnerships, and mergers in order to achieve common goals.

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