Fathers and father figures are essential to the lives of the children, youth, and families we serve. Research shows that outcomes for child wellbeing are enhanced when fathers are intentionally engaged by human service organizations and communities. Even so, our child welfare system has historically gravitated towards a service design and delivery approach that focuses primarily on mothers and children, unintentionally leaving many fathers and father figures feeling forgotten, left out, or undervalued in the lives of children for whom they care deeply.
In this inspiring discussion, panelists will share various perspectives and insights, including lived expertise, on best policies and practices to proactively engage fathers and father figures across the continuum of care. Together, we will have an opportunity to reflect on the history of our traditional approach to child welfare service delivery and look beyond to a future that is more intentionally father inclusive. Panelists will encourage us to consider the importance of engaging fathers in all aspects of our programs and services, and to reflect upon the important role we all play in creating the greatest possibilities for children and families now and in the future through a whole-family approach that elevates and celebrates fathers.
Presenters: Marcus Stallworth, LCSW, Director of Training & Implementation, Child Welfare League of America (CWLA); Larkin Tackett, Adoptive Parent, Founder and CEO, MAYA Consulting; Gaelin Elmore, former foster youth, Speaker, Facilitator, Lived Experience Expert, Gaelin Speaks; and Christopher A. Brown, M.A, President, National Fatherhood Initiative®
Marcus Stallworth, LMSW, operates with a strength based, hands on approach. Spending close to 20 years providing Child Protective Services, he is recognized by the State of Connecticut as an expert witness for providing testimony. He has spearheaded several initiatives to promote the engagement of Fathers, the prevention of abuse and neglect, and the dangers of Social Media. He has direct experience educating and supporting Human Trafficking and Sexually Exploited victims, training staff on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, and advocating for those in Foster Care. He played a leadership role in Connecticut’s Disaster Behavioral Health Response Network and oversaw recovery efforts in Newtown CT after the events on December 14, 2012.
Marcus is the Director of Training and Implementation for the Child Welfare League of America, where he provides training, curriculum development, and consultations services for foster care agencies across the country. He is also co-owner of Welcome 2 Reality, LLC which focuses on providing media literacy and education for students and parents regarding social media and technology. Stallworth and his team are credited for getting Public Act 17-67 passed into law Connecticut, mandating steps be taken to provide social Media Literacy education be taught in all public schools. He currently teaches a self- created elective entitled: Social Media: The Good, Bad, and the Ugly at the University of Bridgeport. He has taught courses at Post University, the University of Connecticut, and is currently teaching in the Graduate School of Social Work at Fordham University. Marcus serves on the Board of Directors of the National Foster Parent Association and plays a leadership role in Connecticut’s Fatherhood Engagement Leadership Team (F.E.L.T). He is also a member of Media Literacy Now’s national advisory council, which provides advocacy and resources for media literacy education in schools.
Founder and CEO of MAYA Consulting. An educational leader and advocate with more than 20 years of experience in all levels of education, he is focused on expanding opportunity by promoting educational equity. In 2017, Larkin launched MAYA to support education organizations working on behalf of marginalized communities, striving to achieve his vision of giving every child the opportunity to receive a quality education for a brighter future. As CEO, he helps districts and other organizations build community partnerships, create more equitable learning environments, and attain valuable resources that will support the success of all students and their families. Larkin holds a Bachelor of Arts in politics and history from Brandeis University and an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin.
Prior to founding MAYA, he served as executive director and vice president of community at IDEA Public Schools in Austin, where he supported principals, led community engagement, and helped to raise more than $35 million in public and private funding. Prior to leading schools, Larkin served in the U.S. Department of Education as part of the Obama administration. He designed and launched Promise Neighborhoods with the vision of breaking generational cycles of poverty by wrapping children in a seamless pipeline of health, social, and educational supports from birth through college and career. His passion for helping underserved communities thrive began when he taught middle school social studies in the Mississippi Delta with Teach for America, a program promoting educational equity in low-income areas. Larkin lives in Austin with his wife, Katie, and their four children. Committed to equity across sectors, he is Vice Board Chair of the Center for the Study of Social Policy in Washington DC and leads the Social Justice and Advocacy Core Team for Temple Beth Shalom. Outside of MAYA and his volunteer work, you can find Larkin distance running, reading, and playing with his children. He has run 25 marathons with the goal of completing a marathon in all 50 states and Washington D.C.
Gaelin Elmore is a professional speaker and facilitator whose passion is creating cultures rooted in belonging for those who experience trauma and adversity. Gaelin spent over 10 years of his life in the foster care system, where he experienced physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, homelessness, and other traumas. Despite it all, Gaelin found his life shaped by the brief experiences of belonging in some of his darkest moments. After finishing his college football career and enjoying a brief stint in the NFL, Gaelin immediately started working with youth, and spent the next 4 years of his career in the non-profit/ministry space. Gaelin has been featured on the NFL Network, ESPN, Fostering Families Today, and a myriad of podcasts. Gaelin really enjoys being a husband, #GirlDad, and just about anything competitive.
Christopher A. Brown is president of National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI). Mr. Brown oversees NFI’s strategy and business model development and implementation, operations, and fundraising. He is responsible for the development, implementation, evaluation, and improvement of NFI’s products, programs, training, and services.
Mr. Brown has played a critical role in shaping NFI’s focus as the leading provider of fatherhood skill-building resources in the country and the leading trainer of practitioners seeking to offer fatherhood programs in their communities. In his long tenure with NFI, he has been the organization’s foremost developer of its evidence-based fatherhood programs. He has authored or co-authored flagship NFI programs such as 24/7 Dad® and InsideOut Dad®, its more recent, innovative programs such as Understanding Dad™ and Fathering in 15™, its online certificate trainings, and many workshops, brochures, pocket guides, and other skill-building materials. Mr. Brown trains on NFI programs, provides technical assistance to organizations on how to engage fathers in programs and services, and facilitates strategic planning sessions for organizations and government agencies on how to engage fathers.
An applied anthropologist and author of several journal articles and book chapters on issues related to child health and well-being, he has studied masculinity cross culturally, especially as it applies to fatherhood and men’s health and well-being. He has appeared as a fatherhood expert in media outlets, including the L.A. Times, New York Times, Nick Jr. Magazine, and CNN, and is a past signature contributor for The Huffington Post.