WATCH D.O.G.S. ® (Dads Of Great Students) is an innovative father involvement and educational initiative of the National Center For Fathering. It began in 1998 in a single school in Springdale, Arkansas and has since grown into a nationally recognized program that has brought hundreds of thousands of fathers and father figures into our nation’s classrooms and hallways. WATCH D.O.G.S. ® has created millions of "in school" volunteer hours and continues to have a tremendously positive impact on the educational process. Today, more than 3,793 schools in 46 states plus DC participate in WATCH D.O.G.S.®.
- To provide positive male role models for the students, demonstrating by their presence that education is important.
- To provide extra sets of eyes and ears to enhance school security and reduce bullying.
How WATCH D.O.G.S.® Works
WATCH D.O.G.S.®, a K-12 program, invites fathers, grandfathers, uncles, or other father figures to volunteer at least one day all day at their child's/student's school during the school year. Individuals sign up at a kick-off event such as a "Dads and Kids Pizza Night" or "Donuts with Dad" or in the office at any time throughout the school year. The program is overseen by a "Top Dog" volunteer who partners with the school administrator to coordinate scheduling and identify opportunities for WatchDOGS to provide assistance at the school. WatchDOG volunteers perform a variety of tasks during their volunteer day, including monitoring the school entrance, assisting with unloading and loading of buses and cars, monitoring the lunch room, or helping in the classroom with a teacher's guidance by working with small groups of students on homework, flashcards, or spelling.
During 2003, WATCH D.O.G.S.® conducted a survey of 50 participating schools nationwide. Key findings:
- 89% of people agree that WATCH D.O.G.S.® is a valuable component of the school's efforts to promote a safe and positive learning environment for students.
- More than 79% of people agree that since implementing the WATCH D.O.G.S.® program, the school has experienced an increase in father involvement in areas other than WATCH D.O.G.S.® (parent-teacher conferences, volunteerism in the classroom or after school, PTA involvement).
In its relatively short history, WATCH D.O.G.S.® has proven to be influential and effective in a number of venues:
- Involved in the U.S. Department of Education Father Involvement In Education Project beginning in 2005.
- Invited by the National PTA to be a founding member of the MORE Alliance (Men Organized to Raise Engagement).
- Recognized on the floor of Congress as a program that "can be a great tool in our efforts to prevent school violence and to improve student performance because it can increase parental initiative and involvement in their children's education." Congressional Record, Feb. 7, 2000, page S-392.
- In 1999, we were invited by the United States Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to participate in a nationwide teleconference called "Fathers Matter."
- Recognized as a "best practice" by Joyce L. Epstein, Ph.D., Director of Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships, Johns Hopkins University.