Project Overview


To identify strategies for engaging fathers in human service programs.

Project Motivation

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is committed to encouraging and enhancing fathers’ engagement in human services programming  to improve outcomes for fathers, children, and families. While many human services programs have historically been targeted more toward mothers and have under-served men and fathers, HHS encourages state and local human services agencies to value both the financial and parenting contributions of both mothers and fathers to their children’s lives. This includes keeping fathers safely engaged in their children’s lives and avoiding unintentionally or inadvertently excluding fathers – and their strengths and needs – in service delivery and program implementation.

Prepared For

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation

Evidence demonstrates that father involvement helps children develop better cognitive and linguistic skills, increased school readiness and academic performance, and higher social-emotional development.

In addition, father involvement with their children has positive effects for both mothers' well-being and fathers’ own outcomes. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is committed to encouraging father engagement in human service programming to improve economic opportunity for families and fathers and to strengthen child well-being.

The Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation within HHS is interested in identifying key strategies for engaging fathers in programming across human services. To identify these key strategies, Mathematica is engaging with federal and nonfederal experts in discussions about successful program model, strategies, and practices for engaging fathers. Key study activities include a program scan and a targeted review of literature to identify programs across human service program areas that actively work to better engage fathers, as well as discussions with program staff to identify promising examples of father engagement on the ground. Key learnings of the project are presented in several products including podcasts, webinars, and issue briefs.


A conversation about engaging fathers in home visiting programs

Mathematica research analyst Danielle DeLisle talks with Tony Higgins from the Milwaukee Direct Assistance to Dads (DAD) Project about engaging fathers in home visiting programs.

You can watch a previous conversation about engaging young fathers in human services programs with the founder & CEO of the Center for Urban Families, Joseph T. Jones, Jr., here

Related Staff

Pamela Holcomb

Pamela Holcomb

Principal Researcher

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Rebekah  Selekman

Rebekah Selekman

Senior Researcher

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