Improving Children’s Well-Being through Responsible Fatherhood Programs
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
- Research suggests that high-quality father-child engagement is strongly linked to positive child and adolescent outcomes.
- Responsible Fatherhood (RF) programs’ parenting services could be strengthened by incorporating lessons from research on other parenting programs that serve fathers.
- Three approaches to teaching parenting skills that show promise for integration into RF programs are: (1) behavioral parenting training which focuses on teaching parents skills and strategies to effectively manage a child’s behavior; (2) video modeling which involves demonstrating parenting skills in a video; and (3) web-based programs designed to increase access to and participation in services.
Fathers’ parenting engagement skills, such as how they nurture and discipline their children, are linked to many aspects of children’s well-being including health, academic, and social outcomes. Non-resident fathers with low-income backgrounds, however, often face barriers to being fully engaged. By improving fathers’ parent engagement skills, Responsible Fatherhood (RF) programs could ultimately benefit children.
In this brief, the Fatherhood, Relationships, and Marriage, Illuminating the Next Generation of Research (FRAMING Research) study team considers how RF programs could improve child well-being by supporting fathers’ parenting engagement. They present their recommendations in four steps. First, they examine the importance of fathers’ parenting engagement for children’s outcomes. Second, they describe how RF programs seek to improve fathers’ engagement with their children. Third, they examine evidence from rigorous research on the effectiveness of parenting programs in changing fathers’ parenting engagement. Lastly, based on this evidence, they highlight three promising approaches that could be integrated into RF programs in the future.
This work is part of the FRAMING Research project, which is sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to systematically review healthy marriage and responsible fatherhood programs (HMRF). ACF partnered with Mathematica and Public Strategies to conduct the project to examine existing and ongoing research on HMRF programs and related fields, pinpoint key learning gaps, and identify the best ways to fill those gaps.
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