Panel Paper: Serving Hispanic Fathers: What's Culture Got to Do with It?

Thursday, November 6, 2014 : 2:00 PM
Nambe (Convention Center)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Natasha Cabrera1, Luis R. Torres2, Camila Fernandez3 and Raquel af Ursin3, (1)University of Maryland, (2)University of Houston, (3)Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.
In recent years there has been a renewed policy effort to develop responsible fatherhood (RF) programs to help fathers, especially nonresident fathers, become more engaged in their children’s lives and provide ongoing financial, emotional, and logistical support. These programmatic efforts provide employment services and instruction in parenting skills with the goal of  helping men become economically self-sufficient and improve child outcomes. However, the success of these programs is unclear. Moreover, we need to build more knowledge about how these programs attract, engage, and impact minority fathers in general, and Hispanic fathers specifically. 

One such effort is the Parents and Children Together (PACT) evaluation, and specifically the Hispanic Fathers Sub-Study (H-PACT). H-PACT seeks to understand how RF programs conceptualize, develop, and implement their services to Hispanic fathers. The overarching question guiding the H-PACT study is “what makes a particular program a program for Hispanic fathers?”  The H-PACT study has two broad goals: (1) to collect information from program staffs about the principles and concepts that guide their decisions about various dimensions of programs, including structure, curricula, staffing, and expectations/outcomes for Hispanic fathers; and (2) to collect information from participating Hispanic fathers about their experiences with the program/services and staff.

Using a mixed-methods approach, H-PACT will collect qualitative data from program staff and program participants at four RF programs that received RF grants to deliver services specifically to low-income Hispanic fathers. These grants were awarded by the Office of Family Assistance at the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in 2011. Study sites were selected because they represented the diversity of Hispanic fathers in terms of generation and immigration status, English proficiency, and education. During one-day visits (in April and May 2014) to the selected grantees program staff (curriculum developers or adapters, facilitators, case managers, and program directors) will be interviewed using a semi-structured interview guide. Staff interviews will focus on how various dimensions of the program (e.g., curriculum, marketing, recruitment and retention strategies, etc.) were developed, and the extent to which Hispanic cultural elements are used in program planning and execution. 

Fathers in each program selected for H-PACT will participate in a focus group that will tap into their experiences of the program, specifically the degree to which the program is responsive to their cultural identity and needs. Fathers will also complete a brief survey that measures cultural socialization values and beliefs (e.g., familismo), levels of acculturation, and religion.   The study will also examine data already being collected by the grantees as part of the programs’ operation (e.g., demographics and pre- and post-test surveys). The H-PACT study will shed light on how programs tailor their services to the specific characteristics and needs of the Hispanic fathers they serve and the role of RF programs in Hispanic fathers’ lives.