FIRA’s New Vision, Values and Guiding Principles (Adopted February, 2010)
We envision a Canada that values and actively supports fathers' contributions to healthy child development, and where men feel prepared to engage in their parenting role.
To enhance Canada's understanding of fathers and support for fathers' roles in contributing to healthy child development and the well-being of families.
To fulfill our mission and vision, our immediate goals focus on becoming a country that simultaneously:
- Is "father-inclusive" — making a concerted effort in all aspects of society to include and support fathers; understand and take into account father-child relationships; and address fathers' unique and diverse needs and ways of parenting.
- Fosters "father involvement" - which encompasses fathers' sense of responsibility, emotional connection to their children and engagement in their children's lives.
We will do this by:
- Becoming a national and international voice for promoting awareness and understanding of research-informed knowledge related to father inclusion and father involvement.
- Advocating for and supporting the creation of programs, services and supports for families which foster father involvement and are father-inclusive.
the development of father-inclusive policies in organizations, institutions and
- Developing ideas, directions and partnerships for research and knowledge dissemination related to father involvement and inclusion.
men's understanding and development of close and supportive father/child and
family relationships which nurture the healthy development of children, men,
women and families.
We aim to enhance father involvement through social and institutional supports based on the unique and diverse needs, strengths, and circumstances of today's fathers and father figures.
the diversity of background and experience of Canadian fathers and families and
recognize that healthy child development can occur in a variety of family
We affirm mothers' contributions to the health and well-being of children and support effective communication and teamwork between fathers, partners, ex-partners and other caregivers who share responsibility for their children.
We will collaborate, consult and share information with diverse stakeholders throughout various levels of society.
FIRA's original organizational structure and vision were adopted by a Steering Committee which came together to undertake a Community University Research Alliance project. The following are the vision, mission, values and guiding principles adopted by that Steering Committe, which operated from 2003 to 2008.
FIRA is a pan-Canadian alliance of individuals, organizations and institutions dedicated to the development and sharing of knowledge focusing on father involvement, and the building of a community-university research alliance supporting this work.
Through its various partnerships, FIRA has worked to:
- generate ideas and directions for research activities
- design dissemination strategies aimed at sharing the knowledge with practitioners, academics, policy makers and the general public
- promote evidence-based strategies for policy development, practice and systemic change which supports father/child relationships and the positive influence of fathers
- link to and engage a broad range of interested individuals, organizations and institutions
- elicit the concerns/issues of Canadian fathers from the standpoint of fathers, mothers and children themselves
All of these activities will seek to generate knowledge which will contribute to the well-being of children by:
- strengthening the relationships between fathers and children
- helping fathers to be a positive influence in the lives of their children
- affecting change at the community and societal levels
In pursuing this vision and these actions FIRA will:
- be responsive to the needs and concerns of fathers, communities and institutions
- build upon existing and emerging strengths of fathers while affirming the importance of mothers' contribution to healthy child development and well-being
- be inclusive and transparent in its consultations and operations
- acknowledge the diversity of background and experience of fathers in Canadian society
Community-university research partnerships are increasingly seen as important agents of joint learning and societal change, and in recent years, governments have placed a strong emphasis on the development of programs that involve collaboration among practitioners, consumers, policy makers and researchers. The FIRA-CURA program is funded through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Community University Research Alliance Program (CURA).
Beyond the FIRA CURA: Future directions for FIRA
Since the funding of FIRA activities in 2003, several steps have been taken to build upon current activities to continue to meet the research and outreach needs of around father involvement in Canada. A new and broader vision and mandate have been struck - along with ideas around future funding possibilities. More developments are expected.
Vision and Guiding Principles
We envision a Canadian society
- Which supports a culture of responsible father involvement based on the understanding that responsible father involvement, in its many forms, contributes to healthy child development;
- Where communities are pro-active in the development and implementation of supportive programs and policies and other actions that enable responsible father involvement;
- Where fathers and their children are supported and enabled to develop close, caring relationships which enhance healthy child development and enhance the well-being of children and fathers.
1. Establish a father involvement research agenda that provides a research-based knowledge foundation for the development of policy decision making and community programs by: engaging the collaboration of new and established scholars with other stakeholders and partners to identify needs for father involvement research and related actions.
2. Establish an on-going alliance among stakeholders by: creating a vital and sustainable pan-Canadian network of individuals and organizations interested in enhancing father involvement; developing the research capacity of those stakeholders who wish to collaborate on research; and developing the capacity of university researchers to construct research agendas that are grounded in, and justified by, community experience.
3. Develop a research strategy that emerges out of the needs of fathers - from a children's first principle - and designed to produce outcomes that serve the needs of fathers and their children by: engaging fathers and families in all aspects of the research. We will provide fathers and those who support or are involved with them with knowledge, tools, resources and programs that enhance responsible involvement and help to make various societal services and institutions more father-friendly.
4. Develop and facilitate a knowledge translation strategy by bringing users and creators of knowledge together during all stages of the research cycle and encouraging active interaction and collaboration. Knowledge translation strategies will help to define research questions and hypotheses, select appropriate research methods, conduct the research itself, interpret and explain the research findings in an accessible way and apply the findings to resolve practical issues and problems.
5. Develop and facilitate a strategy for feeding into current and emergent educational developments and settings by: informing new teaching methods and parenting curricula, particularly in profession-oriented graduate programs in Canada; facilitating the training of students to conduct research in the father involvement field; fostering relationships between students and stakeholder networks of action; orienting students to be knowledgeable and proactive in pursuing the goals and methods of community-university type alliances and participatory action research.
6. Shift public policy, attitudes and practices regarding father involvement by: being a catalyst in support of a public agenda and culture of responsible father involvement; establishing and maintaining a knowledge centre focused on Canadian Father involvement to inform public policy development and decision-making; heightening public awareness of the evidence and benefits of Father involvement in relation to healthy child development and resiliency; and developing practical ways to support fathers and their children.
Guiding Principle 1: Children First
- We acknowledge the well-being and healthy development of children as our primary consideration.
- We promote the right of children to benefit from the positive involvement of their parents.
- We encourage positive communication between parents for the best benefit of children, regardless of family structure.
Guiding Principle 2: Diversity
- We recognize that fathers require unique supports that address their needs rather than adaptations of strategies designed for mothers.
- We encourage the promotion of father involvement, taking into consideration the diverse realities and family structures in which fathers assume their family roles and that children are sometimes raised without the involvement of a father.
- We recognize that healthy child development can occur in all of our society's diverse realities and family structures.
Guiding Principle 3: Importance of co-parenting
- We support and encourage effective communication among children's parents to enhance their parenting.
- We recognize the unique contributions and responsibilities of fathers and mothers in children's lives and the benefits for children in having positive interaction with their parents and other significant caregivers, regardless of family structure.
- We recognize that a key component of being an involved father is supportive and effective teamwork with partners/spouses, ex-partners/spouses and other caregivers for the benefit of children.
Guiding Principle 4: Responsible Father involvement
- We support fathers in developing close and supportive relationships with their children.
- We support fathers in the expansion of their understanding of and commitment to the many facets of their fathering roles.
- We recognize that in addition to the biological father, other men may assume a fathering/caregiving role.
Guiding Principle 5: Social Responsibility
- We promote the idea that children are the collective responsibility of all adults.
- We work to help men develop greater awareness of the way in which their actions and decisions made societal roles outside the family have an impact on the well-being of children in general.
- We will advocate for the availability of social supports to any man who assumes a fathering role.
- We support and encourage open communication concerning the evolving diversity of family structures and parenting roles.
Guiding Principle 6: Empowerment
- We recognize the importance of
valuing the varied dimensions of fathers' roles and that facilitating active
and responsible father involvement can help fathers to reach their full human
- We encourage community
development and social marketing approaches based on strengths, talents and
capacities of fathers and of communities, aiming to work with and for fathers.
Guiding Principle 7: Collaboration
- We will collaborate, consult and share information with
stakeholders at all levels including (but not limited to) fathers and mothers,
academics; social, health and other service providers; educators; employers and
the business sector; community, professional and labour groups, government and
Guiding Principle 8: Sustainability
- We will explore current and potential sustainable practices and opportunities to support father involvement strategies and efforts.