Parenting support and events for fathers
FIRC is working to provide fathers with the tools to be the best dad they can be for their children by offering educational and social opportunities. The following are programs offered specifically for fathers:

Daddy Boot Camp

When men who face the same challenges come together a reliable and trustworthy environment is created, which develops a sense of solidarity that allows us to speak frankly about our experiences and what’s in our mind.
Daddy Boot Camp is a unique father-to-father, community-based workshop that inspires and equips men to:
  • become confidently engaged with their infants
  • support their partners
  • personally navigate their transformation into dads.

In addition to fatherhood discussion, our Daddy Boot Camp integrates a section that focuses on some of the most fundamental topics from the National Fatherhood Initiative’s Doctor Dad program, which include:

  • feeding advice
  • treatment for cold symptoms
  • baby dehydration
  • burns
  • how to prevent choking.

Doctor Dad teaches men how to handle medical situations that may arise as their children grow. The purpose of the Daddy Boot Camp + Dr. Dad workshop is to comfort expectant fathers and get them prepared for the arrival of their newborn. If you are about to become a dad, we encourage you to register and take a step towards becoming the best dad you can possibly be!

Classes are offered twice a month. Visit the calendar of events for class dates or contact Michel at 970-455-0232 or email

Benefits of Connecting Kids to Nature

  • Supports multiple development domains. Nature is important to children’s development in every major way—intellectually, emotionally, socially, spiritually and physically (Kellert, 2005).
  • Supports creativity and problem solving. Studies of children in schoolyards found that children engage in more creative forms of play in the green areas. They also played more cooperatively (Bell and Dyment, 2006). Play in nature is especially important for developing capacities for creativity, problem-solving, and intellectual development (Kellert, 2005).
  • Enhances cognitive abilities. Proximity to, views of, and daily exposure to natural settings increases children’s ability to focus and enhances cognitive abilities (Wells, 2000).
  • Improves academic performance. Studies in the US show that schools that use outdoor classrooms and other forms of nature-based experiential education support significant student gains in social studies, science, language arts, and math. Students in outdoor science programs improved their science testing scores by 27% (American Institutes for Research, 2005).
  • Reduces Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) symptoms. Contact with the natural world can significantly reduce symptoms of attention deficit disorder in children as young as five years old (Kuo and Taylor, 2004).
  • Increases physical activity. Children who experience school grounds with diverse natural settings are more physically active, more aware of nutrition, more civil to one another and more creative (Bell and Dyment, 2006).
  • Improves nutrition. Children who grow their own food are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables (Bell & Dyment, 2008) and to show higher levels of knowledge about nutrition (Waliczek, & Zajicek, 2006). They are also more likely to continue healthy eating habits throughout their lives (Morris & Zidenberg-Cherr, 2002).
  • Improves eyesight. More time spent outdoors is related to reduced rates of nearsightedness, also known as myopia, in children and adolescents (American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2011).
  • Improves social relations. Children will be smarter, better able to get along with others, healthier and happier when they have regular opportunities for free and unstructured play in the out-of-doors (Burdette and Whitaker, 2005).
  • Improves self-discipline. Access to green spaces, and even a view of green settings, enhances peace, self-control and self-discipline within inner city youth, and particularly in girls (Taylor, Kuo and Sullivan, 2001).
  • Reduces stress. Green plants and vistas reduce stress among highly stressed children. Locations with greater number of plants, greener views, and access to natural play areas show more significant results (Wells and Evans, 2003).

Tips for new dads

  •  Get your priorities straight. Take a close look at whether your time management truly reflects what’s most important to you, and recognize that there are few things you’ll ever do in life that will match the significance of building a close relationship with your children.
  • Get on your child’s level. Get close to her and talk in gentle tones. Crawl on the floor a lot. Lie down on your back and hold him close. Hold her often. Her field of vision is about the distance from your face to the crook of your arm, you can make eye contact, smile and talk to her.
  • Spend time alone with your baby. It’s good for mom to get away and have some time to herself. She needs to learn how to trust you with the baby. The baby also needs to learn that you’re dependable and meet can meet his needs.
  • Be willing to ask for help. You don’t know everything, and you’ll make mistakes. So ask the baby’s mom how to do things. Tell her you know she’s good at this stuff, but you want to learn it too. Fatherhood and parenting classes are a great way to learn new techniques and to meet other parents.
  • Resources for New DadsStrategies for Surviving the First WeeksMake Sleep a PriorityFatigue is typically the first and toughest challenged faced by new parents, especially nursing moms. Babies start with six to eight sleep/wake cycles per day compared to our one. Even if you have been exhausted before, it probably won’t be like this. Sleep deprivation can cause irritability and even disorientation and vicious cycle can develop in which you cannot relax and go to sleep even when you have time. Make sleep a priority when you arrive home:
    • Provide opportunities for your partner to sleep several hours during the day by taking full charge of the baby between certain breast feedings. If necessary, insist she do so; many new mothers feel compelled to do more than they need to.
    • Trade shifts with mom so you can sleep. Grab a nap when your baby is sleeping on your watch; put him safely on your chest where he will make sure you remember that you are on first call.
    • Stock up on sleep when relatives are around to take shifts, or arrange a baby sitter for several hours.
    • Work out an arrangement for night in which you can share the load most efficiently (i.e., you both don’t need to get up every time the baby wakes up.) Talk to other parents about ideas and try your own; e.g., a co-sleeper can make night breast feedings much easier on mom as she doesn’t have to fully wake up, making it easier to get back to sleep.
    • Start out building a good baby sleep habits and don’t get hung up with the debate over letting babies cry it out – there is a pragmatic middle ground to choose as well.

    Get to Know Your Baby

    All Babies are unique, and understanding your child’s different characteristics will help you determine your best approach to being his dad. Characteristics include how he responds to you, a wet diaper, or hunger, and how he likes to be soothed and play. Some babies thrive on interaction, while others seem more self-contained. Some babies relax and fall asleep when you gently massage them; others become rigid and seem to be uncomfortable with a lot of touching. Noticing these responses and tuning into your child enables you to respond to his individuality and efforts to learn and explore his world.

    Great Ways to Bond with Your Baby

    • Use your finger as a pacifier: Babies love to suck. A clean finger works just as well as a pacifier, and it’s a surreal feeling as you actually feel instinct at work. You can also get an idea of what it is like when he latches on to mom’s breast.
    • Swaddle/cuddle: She makes a very huggable bundle when swaddled, wrapped in a blanket after a bath, or really just about any time. Hold her close to keep her warm, and giver her the secure feeling that you’ll always protect her.
    • Trying kangaroo care: Research found that when mothers held their premature babies to their bare chests (called kangaroo care), both of their stress levels dropped dramatically. It also works with fathers and full-term babies, and you will find that taking off your shirt and putting your soft, freshly bathed baby on your chest is pretty close to heaven.
    • Give him a bath: Research has also found that one of the best bonding strategies for dads is giving your baby a bath. If you do it regularly, it gets very interactive, and when at several months you can him into the bath with you, it is a blast. Have mom hand him to you in the shower; socks on your hands will prevent slips and also work as wash cloths.


Fathers (Families) Reading Every Day (F.R.E.D.)

Reading plays an important role in a child’s development of vocabulary and comprehension skills along with strengthening the parent-child bond.  How you read to your preschooler is just as important as how frequently we read to them. The Fathers Reading Every Day program is a challenge to read at least 15 minutes to your child five days a week using open-ended questions and expansion techniques to help your child tell you what they are seeing in the book and comprehending from the story. By using questions, you can help your child develop their vocabulary.

Sign up for the Fathers Reading Every Day challenge and receive a gift certificate to Summit Thrift and Treasure to use on books. Once you complete your first week of the program reading for at least 15 minutes for five days you will receive a Target gift certificate to use on more books. Contact FIRC at 970-455-0232 or email for more information.

Statistics on children without fathers

Almost 25 million (1 out of 3) children in the United States are growing up in families without a father present, nearly a 250% increase from the 80’s. Research shows the following:


  • If a father is engaged with the child for the first two years of their life 80% of fathers will stay involved
  • 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes
  • Over 71% of high school drop outs are from fatherless homes
  • 61% of 3 to 5 year olds living with two parents are read aloud to everyday by a family member compared to 48% of children living in a single or no-parent family.


  • 85% of all imprisoned youth grew up in a fatherless home
    Maternal & Infant Health
  • Infant mortality rates are 1.8 times higher for infants of unmarried mothers than for married mothers
  • 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders are from fatherless homes
  • Unmarried mothers are less likely to obtain prenatal care and more likely to have a low birth weight baby.

Teen Pregnancy

  • Teenage girls without fathers are twice as likely to be involved in early sexual activity and are seven times more likely to get pregnant as an adolescent.

Child Abuse

  • Living in a single parent home doubles the risk that a child will suffer physical, emotional or educational neglect.
  • 77% greater rise of being physically abused
  • 87% greater risk of being harmed by physical neglect
  • 74% greater risk of suffering from emotional neglect
  • 80% greater risk of suffering serious injury as a result of abuse

Drugs and Alcohol

  • Children who report having a poor relationship with their father are 68% more likely to smoke, drink and/or use drugs.

Issues facing Summit County Fathers

    • The high cost of living in Summit County often results in fathers working over 40 hours, or long commute times, causing fathers to spend more time away from home.
    • Lack of parenting education on father-specific topics
    • Many fathers struggle to avoid the partying culture of Summit County.

Fatherhood Program Coordinator


Padres de Summit

MonthlyGroup for Fathers

  • The Padres de Summit program offers fathers a chance to bring their kids out for a fun activity and meet other local dads.
  • The group meets monthly for activities like visiting the fire station, sledding or building and flying kites.
  • The group is free and open to all fathers living or working in Summit County.

Ways to Be a Good Dad

  • Be your kid’s biggest fan. Your children are waiting for you to give them praise and affirmation. Call out what they did right in their choices and actions, what you like best about them and the fact that you love them deeply.
  • Love your children. There is nothing so powerful as a father’s touch. A hug, a kiss on the head – can make a child feel safe and secure.
  • Listen to what your children are saying and to what they are not saying. Spend time listening to your children talk about their day. Ask them questions and listen to what they are not saying. Listening will only take a few minutes, but the impact will last a lifetime.
  • Make memories with your child. Do something simple, but something your children will always remember. Read the same story each night for a month, play a certain game each week, fix the same dinner or breakfast every Saturday.
  • Laugh with your children. Allow your children to find the joy in life that comes with innocence. Then laugh with your children in these moments and find the deepest joy in being a parent.