Panel: Fathers' Participation in Home Visiting and Responsible Fatherhood Programs: Patterns, Predictors, and Outcomes
(Family and Child Policy)

Saturday, November 4, 2017: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Stetson BC (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  Julia S. Alamillo, Mathematica Policy Research
Panel Chairs:  Virginia W. Knox, MDRC
Discussants:  Ronald B. Mincy, Columbia University

Findings from a Randomized Study of an Intervention to Increase Father Involvement in Home Visitation
Neil B. Guterman1, Jennifer L. Bellamy2, Aaron Banman1, Sandra Morales-Mirque1 and Justin Harty1, (1)University of Chicago, (2)University of Denver

Participation in Responsible Fatherhood Programs: The Role of Father and Program Characteristics
Julia S. Alamillo, Heather Zaveri, Scott Baumgartner and M. Robin Dion, Mathematica Policy Research

Fathers' Perspectives on Fatherhood Programs
Cynthia Osborne, Kaeley Bobbitt and Andrea Michelsen, University of Texas, Austin

Promoting fathers’ positive involvement with their children is a priority for policymakers and practitioners. Father involvement has been shown to enhance children’s physical, social, and emotional development (Cabrera et al. 2000; Cabrera, Shannon, & LeMonda 2007), and is also associated with positive outcomes for mothers (Jackson 1999). As more research has emerged demonstrating the important role of fathers in family life, policies and programs for children and families have begun to explicitly target fathers. This panel examines fathers’ participation in two types of programs, home visiting programs and responsible fatherhood programs. Using a wide array of data and methods, the papers provide new evidence on fathers’ level of participation in these programs, the factors that encourage fathers’ participation, and the implications of this participation for families and children.

The first paper focuses on an enhancement to home visiting services, called “Dads Matter,” that targets fathers and their role in children’s lives. Using data from a randomized control trial of home visiting supervisors, Guterman et al. examine whether fathers who receive Dads Mattter show increased participation in home visiting services. Preliminary results suggest that Dads Matter increases fathers’ engagement in services and family wellbeing, as evidenced by greater involvement by fathers with their children and lower risk of child abuse and neglect.

In the second paper, Alamillo et al. describe fathers’ participation in four responsible fatherhood programs that were part of the Parents and Children Together evaluation. The paper also explores whether program and father characteristics predict variation in fathers’ level of participation. Using administrative data collected by programs, the authors find that although most fathers who enroll in responsible fatherhood programs attend initially, fathers’ continued participation can be a challenge. Regression analyses based on fathers’ survey data highlight several factors related to both fathers and programs that improve fathers’ likelihood of attendance and retention in these programs.

In the third paper, Israel et al. highlight early findings from responsible fatherhood programs in the Building Bridges and Bonds evaluation that are offering innovative approaches to service delivery. The programs draw on insights from cognitive behavioral therapy, interactive learning models, and new technologies to engage fathers and improve service delivery. The authors share data from program staff and managers about challenges and successes related to program implementation.

The fourth paper focuses on the Fatherhood EFFECT program in Texas, which supports evidence-based fatherhood programs throughout the state. Osborne et al. use a mixed-methods approach to examine what motivates fathers to attend programming and the outcomes associated with participation. Preliminary analyses based on interviews with fathers indicate that although many fathers are initially ordered to attend programs by a judge or probation officer, the social support they receive from other fathers in the program compels them to stay.

Taken together, these papers provide important, new evidence for researchers and practitioners about what works in fatherhood programming, the factors that predict fathers’ participation in programming, and the importance of this participation for family wellbeing.

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