The Fathers Network is a group of men who have children that have a disability. According to Roseberg & Wilcox (2006), “The Washington State Fathers Network (WSFN) has served over 1,000 families in the past 20 years. Founded on the belief that men are crucial in the lives of children, WSFN is a powerful voice for increasing the involvement of men in all aspects of family life, and provides support and resources for all men involved in the life of a child with special health care needs or developmental disabilities.” There are also grandfathers who have taken on the parental role of raising their grandchild with a disability because the parent may not be able or have the coping skills to be a parent. These men are supported in our Fathers Network too. Many of these fathers including myself need friendships with other men who understand our joys, tears, frustrations and challenges of raising special needs children. We typically meet once a month and get together for coffee, sometimes a glass of wine, good laughs, sharing stories, and lending an ear to a father who needs advice. Some of the fathers can only meet on an annual basis. One year we even went sailing.
October 2, 2010 was a day that many fathers including myself got together will never forget. We held our Washington State Fathers Network Annual Conference. It was held at the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington. There were approximate 120 men present that have a child or sometimes multiple children with disabilities. Advocacy classes such as Positive Behavioral Support, The New Health Care Reform Law, Wills and Guardianship were presented by qualified trainers. For more on this article see: Washington State Fathers Network Annual Conference