Guest post: Going virtual with 3Ts Let’s Talk Dads!

The Statewide Family Engagement Center (SFEC) Network is comprised of 12 Statewide Family Engagement Centers in 13 states across the country and works to advance family engagement partnerships to impact educational success.  It is led by the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) and the National Association for Family, School and Community Engagement (NAFSCE) and is supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. This guest blog post is authored by staff at Southwest Human Development, a partner of the Arizona SFEC.

Partnering to engage Arizona dads of young children

Southwest Human Development is partnering with the Center for Early Learning + Public Health at the University of Chicago and the Steve Nash Foundation, along with many incredible local partners to find and engage Arizona dads in the 3Ts Let’s Talk Dads program. One such partnership has been with the Arizona Statewide Family Engagement Center (led by NCFL) who has brought a diverse group of early childhood stakeholders together in support of two target school districts here in Maricopa County. It is through the partnerships within this grant that we have been able to spread the word about this program and leverage this as an additional service to meet the need in the community for families within these districts.   

The need for virtual family engagement

At the onset of the pandemic Southwest Human Development pivoted all programming to be delivered virtually in order to adhere to CDC health and safety guidelines. It was critical that these shifts were made as quickly as possible to preserve meaningful supports for families during an especially challenging and isolating time, while also ensuring that the quality of services were maintained. Specifically, due to a variety of factors, many fathers found themselves spending 24 hours a day at home with their young children, which created an even more urgent need to provide them critical information on neurodevelopment and strategies for supporting their very young children. 

A valuable experience for program participants and staff alike

Looking back across this past year, it has been such a valuable learning experience on how to deliver high-quality virtual programming. We have been able to adapt facilitation to a virtual environment utilizing group discussions via Zoom, curriculum videos modeling key strategies, and in between sessions, virtual or telephone coaching calls for participating dads. The pivot to virtual participation also removed potential barriers for participating dads such as travel time and getting home for evening routines, and ultimately has allowed us to connect fathers from all across Arizona within these virtual cohorts. Despite the pandemic, we have had fathers from Navajo Nation, Tucson, Flagstaff, Avondale, Phoenix, Mesa, Peoria, and Glendale able to connect together to engage in meaningful learning around the importance of early communication, language, and literacy. 

We have now delivered 12 cohorts virtually and are preparing to launch our 13th and 14th. While pilot data is still being actively collected by the university, father feedback continues to be extremely positive along with clear and consistent articulations of learning.

For more information, please reach out to the Senior Program Manager, Language and Literacy at Southwest Human Development, Meghan Storms, by emailing