What Works in Fatherhood Programs?

Wednesday Jun 25, 2008

As increasing numbers of programs seek to enhance and improve fathers' involvement with children and families, researchers and policymakers want to know what effective fatherhood programs look like and which of the current programs work best. New documents from the U.S. National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse offer answers to these questions. The documents were authored by a team led by social demographer Jacinta Bronte-Tinkew Ph.D., of Child Trends, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit research and policy center focused on improving developmental outcomes for children.

“What Works” in Fatherhood Programs? Ten Lessons from Evidence-based Practice, is a ten-page brief which identifies ten promising practices in fatherhood programs, derived from experimental evaluations of fatherhood and parenting programs. Those practices are summarized as follows:

• Teaching methods and materials that are culturally appropriate for fathers being served.
• Staff members who believe in the program and have relevant training and coaching.
• A high staff-participant ratio.
• One-on-one relationships between staff and participants.
• Clear, specific program goals.
• Theory-based approaches that have influenced parenting behaviors in other contexts.
• Varied teaching methods that focus on fathers as individuals.
• Sufficient time to complete important core program activities.
• Incentives to engage fathers and families.
• Curricula replicated with fidelity.

Elements of Promising Practices for Fatherhood Programs: Evidence-Based Research Findings on Programs for Fathers, is a longer (183 page) document which looks at the ten promising practices in greater depth and also provides information on over thirty fatherhood programs which have been subject to evaluation. For each program, information is provided on the target group, staffing, program content, evaluation design and key evaluation findings. The programs are grouped into three categories: “Model” Fatherhood Programs, “Promising” Fatherhood Programs and “Emerging” Fatherhood Programs.

Both reports are available for download in PDF format.

Read What Works in Fatherhood Programs.

Read Elements of Promising Practices for Fatherhood Programs.