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Fathers and father figures are often left out of conversations about their children’s health care due to structural and societal barriers. But without their input, a piece of the family’s story may be missing. Whether a father lives in the home with the child or not, they have a unique perspective to share. Pediatric health care teams can benefit from intentionally making their practices more welcoming to fathers by shifting policies and practices, allowing them to better support their patients’ life-long health and well-being.

This webinar explored efforts to incorporate fathers’ experiences and voices in pediatric care. Presenters shared their diverse personal and professional experiences and included: a family advocate who is deeply involved in his child’s care; a physician who advocates to include fathers in pediatric primary care decision-making; and a champion for embedding holistic practices to improve the involvement of fathers in the lives of their children and families. This webinar is a product of Accelerating Child Health Transformation (ACHT), a national initiative led by the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that seeks to accelerate the adoption of key strategies necessary to advance anti-racist and family-centered pediatric practice.

This webinar is the first in a two-part series on Expanding Patient and Family Engagement to Improve Pediatric Care that highlighted the value of co-creating equitable partnerships between patients, families, community, and multidisciplinary care teams. This webinar focused on the importance of involving fathers in patient and family engagement to advance pediatric care.


I. Welcome and Introductions

Speaker: Hannah Gears, Senior Program Officer, CHCS

H. Gears welcomed participants, provided an overview of the webinar, and introduced speakers.

II. Opportunities for Expanding Inclusion of Fathers

Speaker: Louis Mendoza, Family Advisor for ACHT and former Manager at Washington State Fathers Network (retired)

L. Mendoza shared his personal and professional experiences related to the importance of engaging fathers in health care decisions for their children and in overall health care system transformation. He provided context for how and why fathers often feel their voices are not heard and offered suggestions for improving engagement of fathers in practice change and policy development.

III. Strategies for Engaging Fathers in Clinical Practice

Speaker: Mary Ann Woodruff, MD, Pediatrician, Pediatrics Northwest and Rachel Lettieri, MS, Director of Care Coordination, Pediatrics Northwest

M. A. Woodruff and R. Lettieri shared efforts undertaken by Pediatrics Northwest, a pediatric practice in Washington State, to better integrate fathers into the primary care setting, including providing mental health screenings for fathers, similar to those often offered to mothers in pediatric care settings. They shared why Pediatrics Northwest prioritizes fatherhood engagement in the context of practice transformation.

IV. Designing Father-inclusive Pediatric Care 

Speaker: Anne Stone, Director, Washington State Interagency Fatherhood Council

A. Stone shared strategies to design a fatherhood-inclusive pediatric medical home that prioritizes the father’s perspective whether he is living with the patient, present at a visit, or not. She outlined the positive long-term impacts on children’s emotional and economic well-being associated with father involvement in a child’s life and shared a set of North Star Father-Friendly Principles that promote a stronger father-friendly provider network of services for fathers and father figures.

V. Moderated Panel: Exploring Diverse Perspectives of Fathers Who Play an Active Role in Their Child’s Health Care

Moderator: H. Gears moderated a panel discussion with fathers actively involved in their child’s health care. Panelists included:

  • Kevin Cox, MA, FELLAS Fatherhood Program Manager, Partnership for Maternal and Child, Health of Northern New Jersey
  • Morris Carr, Family Advisor for ACHT and Men’s Health Coordinator, Access Community Health Network
  • Louis Mendoza, Family Advisor for ACHT and former Manager at Washington State Fathers Network (retired)