1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.
DADS are a group of men who volunteer their services in all Gary Public Schools. DADS are actively involved in the Gary Community School Corporation. They are attending school activities such as PTA, sporting events and school programs, visiting classrooms, meeting teachers and principals, and being available whenever needed even before and after school.
2. When was the program created and why?
The 1995 Million Man March encouraged the participation and commitment of many of the men who attended. John Finn, former Administrative Assistant tot he Superintendent, was seeking ways to get men involved in the education process of students in the district. Following a series of meetings that were the outgrowth of Indiana Governor Evan Bayh’s Conference on Fatherhood, the DADS organization was formed in January of 1997. Ten Gary fathers formed the nucleus of the group as charter members and the Board of Directors.
The focus of this district-wide volunteer organization is to get fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers and other males (preferably out of high school) to volunteer in our schools. Each school has a local DADS chapter. DADS coordinators are assigned to each school where members act as positive role models who help build childrens’ character.
3. How do you measure the program’s effectiveness?
We cannot buy the kind of services that DADS volunteers give. Their warmth, interest, and skills offer the children a change of pace and a variety of experiences which would not be possible without their time and energy. DADS accept the fact that with so many single mother households in our community, we must accept the notion that al of these children are our children. We have experienced a positive measurement of effectiveness in several areas; safer school environment, more supervision and organized activities during lunch hour, decrease in student truancy and suspensions.
Instead of out of school suspensions, putting students into the community where he/she can get into more trouble, some of the DADS work the in-house suspension programs which allows the students to remain in school, and receive instruction and supervision. Overall we have realized positive results from DADS just being present in our schools.
4. How is the program financed?
Our program was primarily all volunteerism. We had some financial support from our school district. We are in the process of seeking grants so that we may be able to do things necessary to become more effective. We are limited to the things we can do as an organization with no finances.
5. How is the community involved in the program? How has the community responded to the program?
The DADS have had a good rapport with the community. The DADS are well known in our city. We have bill boards all over the city advertising our organization. We have support from the churches. The DADS have participated in several city and community parades. The mayor of our city, Scott King, strongly supports the DADS along with the entire city administration. The school superintendent, Dr. Mary Guinn, supports the DADS along with the school administration and staff. The community supports our organization also. There is room for many more volunteers from our community. Our participation is only limited by the number of Dads who participate.
6. What is the major lesson learned from this program?
Men are responsible for the children they bring into the world, both physically and emotionally. Men, as care givers, should develop nurturing relationships with their children.
7. Contact person:
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright © 1999, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.