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Father involvement programs

Health Factors: Family & Social Support
Decision Makers: Local Government State Government Grantmakers Nonprofit Leaders Public Health Professionals & Advocates
Evidence Rating: Some Evidence
Population Reach: 20-49% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: Likely to decrease disparities

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Description

Programs that support father involvement provide educational trainings and services related to parenting skills, father-child relationships, and child development and well-being. Fathers can be involved with their children through direct interactions, support for a child’s mother, management of a child’s behavior, and role modeling positive behavior (McWayne 2013). Father involvement programs are often delivered in a group setting through local organizations and often focus on first time, low income, minority, and nonresident fathers.

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Improved family functioning
Improved parent-child interaction
Increased academic achievement
Improved child behavior
Improved parenting
Improved cognitive skills

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is some evidence that programs that support father involvement strengthen families and improve father-child interactions (Lundahl 2007Magill-Evans 2006Cowan 2009). Overall, father involvement is positively associated with child outcomes such as academic achievement, positive behaviors, and socio-emotional wellbeing (McWayne 2013, Jeynes 2015, Adamsons 2013). However, additional evidence is needed to confirm effects of programs that work to support these relationships.

Interventions that involve both mothers and fathers demonstrate improvements in child behavior (Lundahl 2007Cowan 2009), father engagement (Knox 2011Cowan 2009), and parent perceptions. Such interventions may have better outcomes than interventions that engage only mothers or only fathers (Lundahl 2007).

Programs that focus on active father-child involvement have been shown to enhance fathers’ interactions with their children and increase fathers’ positive perceptions of their children. These interventions may also increase children’s cognitive development (Magill-Evans 2006) and reduce problem behaviors (Lundahl 2007). The Fathers and Sons program, serving nonresident black fathers, has been shown to increase participating fathers’ satisfaction with their parenting skills and sons’ intentions to avoid violence (Caldwell 2014).

Coparenting initiatives and programs targeting parents’ relationship with each other may enhance benefits for children (McHale 2012, Knox 2011). Researchers suggest considering cultural values and context of parenting in curriculum design and implementation decisions (Magill-Evans 2006).

Implementation

United States

There are many efforts underway to further father involvement. Examples include WATCH D.O.G.S., a program that invites a father to a child’s school (NCF); Bringing Baby Home, a new parents workshop supporting co-parenting and marital relationships (BBH); and Fatherhood Is Sacred, a 12-week fatherhood knowledge and skill building program for Native American fathers (NAFFA). Young Fathers of Central Florida implements two programs for teen fathers, Teen Fatherhood Academy and Dad to Dad Mentoring (YFCF). The National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) implements a number of programs and the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (NRFC) provides funding for programs that promote responsible fatherhood. 

Wisconsin

My Father’s House in Milwaukee provides services and educational classes for fathers (MFH).

Implementation Resources

AHA - American Humane Association. QIC fatherhood toolkit. Accessed on November 23, 2015
DC-Fatherhood toolkit - Dad Central. Fatherhood involvement toolkit. Accessed on December 7, 2015
NCF - National Center for Fathering (NCF). Establish a positive fathering. Accessed on February 10, 2016
NRFC - National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (NRFC). Accessed on May 24, 2016
US DHHS-Fatherhood - US Department of Health and Human Services (US DHHS). National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse. Accessed on March 3, 2017

Citations - Description

McWayne 2013* - McWayne C, Downer JT, Campos R, Harris RD. Father involvement during early childhood and its association with children's early learning: A meta-analysis. Early Education and Development. 2013;24(6):898-922. Accessed on February 10, 2016

Citations - Evidence

Adamsons 2013* - Adamsons K, Johnson SK. An updated and expanded meta-analysis of nonresident fathering and child well-being. Journal of Family Psychology. 2013;27(4):589-599. Accessed on February 10, 2016
Caldwell 2014* - Caldwell CH, Antonakos CL, Assari S, et al. Pathways to prevention: Improving nonresident African American fathers' parenting skills and behaviors to reduce sons' aggression. Child Development. 2014;85(1):308-325. Accessed on February 10, 2016
Cowan 2009* - Cowan PA, Cowan CP, Pruett MK, Pruett K, Wong JJ. Promoting fathers’ engagement with children: Preventive interventions for low-income families. Journal of Marriage and Family. 2009;71(3):663-79. Accessed on December 8, 2015
Jeynes 2015* - Jeynes WH. A meta-analysis: The relationship between father involvement and student academic achievement. Urban Education. 2015;50(4):387-423. Accessed on February 10, 2016
Knox 2011* - Knox V, Cowan PA, Cowan CP, Bildner E. Policies that strengthen fatherhood and family relationships: What do we know and what do we need to know? Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 2011;635(1):216-39. Accessed on February 4, 2016
Lundahl 2007* - Lundahl BW, Tollefson D, Risser H, Lovejoy MC. A meta-analysis of father involvement in parent training. Research on Social Work Practice. 2007;18(2):97-106. Accessed on March 10, 2016
Magill-Evans 2006* - Magill-Evans J, Harrison MJ, Rempel G, Slater L. Interventions with fathers of young children: Systematic literature review. Journal of Advanced Nursing. 2006;55(2):248-64. Accessed on February 29, 2016
McHale 2012* - McHale J, Waller MR, Pearson J. Coparenting interventions for fragile families: What do we know and where do we need to go next? Family Process. 2012;51(3):284–306. Accessed on March 1, 2016
McWayne 2013* - McWayne C, Downer JT, Campos R, Harris RD. Father involvement during early childhood and its association with children's early learning: A meta-analysis. Early Education and Development. 2013;24(6):898-922. Accessed on February 10, 2016

Citations - Implementation

BBH - The Gottman Institute. Bringing Baby Home (BBH): New Parents Workshop. Accessed on February 10, 2016
MFH - My Father's House (MFH). Dedicated to Fathers. Accessed on February 10, 2016
NAFFA - Native American Fatherhood & Families Association (NAFFA). Fatherhood Is Sacred & Motherhood Is Sacred. Accessed on February 10, 2016
NCF - National Center for Fathering (NCF). Establish a positive fathering. Accessed on February 10, 2016
NFI - National Fatherhood Initiative. Accessed on March 3, 2016
NRFC - National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (NRFC). Accessed on May 24, 2016
YFCF - Young Fathers of Central Florida (YFCF). Fatherhood is a blessing that matters. Accessed on February 10, 2016

Page Last Updated

February 10, 2016

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