Highlights from the FRAMING Research Responsible Fatherhood Technical Work Group
Fatherhood, Relationships, and Marriage – Illuminating the Next Generation of Research (FRAMING Research)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families
- Measuring the effect of responsible fatherhood (RF) programs on child well-being is an important research priority. TWG members indicated that researchers should choose child well-being measures that are appropriate for the population—specifically those that account for potential maternal gatekeeping, structural racism, and other relevant issues.
- RF programs can enhance fathers’ engagement with their children, but effects to date have been relatively modest. TWG members indicated that emphasizing fathers’ non-economic contributions to their families could help fathers engage more fully in their children’s lives.
- For RF programs to be effective, participants must have substantial exposure to them. TWG members noted that a key foundation of promoting participation in RF programs is appropriate content and staff who understand participants’ life experiences.
Recognizing the importance of fathers to their families, as well as, the difficulties that many fathers with low-income backgrounds face supporting their children, the federal government has supported responsible fatherhood (RF) programs for more than a decade. However, many questions remain about how to best serve fathers and their families. The Office of Family Assistance and the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, both within the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), are committed to building the evidence base to strengthen healthy marriage (HM) and RF programming. To systematically identify current gaps in the knowledge base for HMRF programming, ACF launched the Fatherhood, Relationships, and Marriage – Illuminating the Next Generation of Research (FRAMING Research) project.
On July 23, 2019, ACF convened the first meeting of the FRAMING Research RF technical work group (TWG). The group included RF practitioners and researchers. This brief describes the meeting, which focused on three topics: (1) measuring the effects of RF programs on child well-being; (2) improving fathers’ engagement with their children through RF programs; and (3) increasing participation rates in RF programs. These topics emerged from the project team’s review of relevant literature and discussions with ACF about agency priorities. The day concluded with TWG members participating in a brainstorming session on RF research priorities.