Archive for the ‘fathers’ Category

Father’s Day 2017: 5 Things You Should Know about the Importance of Fathers

June 13, 20175-things-list, fathers

Father involvement has increased dramatically over the past several decades, and simultaneously, the role of fathers in their families has evolved from conceptions of fathers as distant breadwinners to a more holistic recognition that they are equal co-parents. Accompanying these changes has been a growing interest among researchers in studying the role that fathers play in the lives of their children. We’ve highlighted the current landscape of what the research, including some helpful resources, says about today’s dads in 5 Things You Should Know about the Importance of Fathers.

CFRP Develops New Survey Instrument to Help Determine the Value of Home Visiting

May 11, 2017fathers, home visiting, mothers

123213079_smResearch indicates that evidence-based home visiting programs should benefit the families who participate in them through improvements in maternal and child health, parenting attitudes and behaviors, better cognitive and social-emotional outcomes for children, and a lower incidence of child abuse and maltreatment. However, existing performance measures do not measure all of the ways participation in home visiting programs is related to positive outcomes for children and families.

Given the high level of investment at the federal and state level into evidence-based home visiting programs, identifying the extent to which home visiting programs provide value for families and children even if they do not complete the program is important for demonstrating home visiting as a sound investment.

The aim of the evaulation is to demonstrate how home visiting programs provide value to families in key parenting aspects that current federal benchmarks and state performance measures do not capture.

The state of Texas continues to invest in home visiting programs as an important support for families, and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) has prioritized understanding the ways in which home visiting programs provide value for families.

The Child and Family Research Partnership (CFRP) is working with the department’s Prevention and Early Intervention division to conduct an exploratory descriptive evaluation, Describing Home Visiting Value Evaluation (DHVVE), to identify the ways in which home visiting programs provide value to participating families and how these benefits vary across family and program factors.

The aim of DHVVE is to demonstrate how home visiting programs provide value to families enrolled in the Texas Home Visiting (THV) program, specifically in key parenting aspects that current federal benchmarks and state performance measures do not capture.

CFRP and the DFPS Prevention and Early Intervention division have developed a short, 10-minute instrument called the Parent Check-In (PCI) survey for the project. The PCI is administered by home visitors to parents participating in the THV program all over the state. The PCI measures change over time in key parenting outcomes, including:

  • family self-sufficiency
  • parent routines and engagement
  • parenting efficacy
  • parenting stress
  • discipline techniques

To date, the PCI has been administered to over 2,000 Texas Home Visiting program participants. For more information about the PCI or if you’re interested in using it for your work, please contact cfrp@austin.utexas.edu.

For more about CFRP’s work on home visiting, go to Publications | Home Visiting.

Director Cynthia Osborne Provides Expert Testimony on Capitol Hill on Fathers in Home Visiting

April 13, 2017early childhood, fathers, home visiting, osborne

On April 13, 2017 Dr. Cynthia Osborne, Director of the Child and Family Research Partnership (CFRP) at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin, provided expert testimony at a Congressional Briefing in Washington, D.C. on the growing evidence of the importance of fathers in early childhood intervention home visiting programs. The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program is being considered for re-authorization by the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee.

Home visiting programs have rapidly expanded across the country as an evidence-based policy choice for supporting families with young children. They provide structured visits by trained professionals and paraprofessionals to high-risk parents who are pregnant or have young children.

Fathers play a crucial role in child development, but historically, social programs aimed at poverty alleviation, health, and parenting have been geared almost exclusively toward mothers and children. For the last five years, Dr. Osborne has led the team at CFRP in conducting multiple evaluations of the MIECHV-funded Texas Home Visiting (THV) program, the largest program in the country, including two evaluations focused specifically on father involvement. Highlights of the findings:

  • Multiple barriers (e.g., work schedules) often prevent fathers from participating in home visits, but fathers engage with home visiting programs in other ways including attending other program activities, completing homework or practicing lessons with the mother and child, or asking mothers about the visit.
  • Fathers value home visiting programs and cite their child’s improved school readiness and health outcomes as being particularly important.
  • Program staff can be trained to increase father participation including specifically inviting fathers to visits and program events, and being flexible with the timing and location of home visits to accommodate fathers’ work schedules.
  • Father participation in home visiting programs is positively linked to family retention, which provides both parents increased opportunity to benefit from the program. Families in which fathers have participated in at least one home visit stay in the program over six months longer than families in which fathers never participate, controlling for family, program, and community factors.

Watch Dr. Osborne sharing expert testimony during the Congressional Briefing:

The Child and Family Research Partnership is an independent, nonpartisan research center at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin which is dedicated to strengthening families and enhancing public policy through rigorous research. Click for more on CFRP’s Home Visiting and Fatherhood research.

To arrange an interview with Dr. Osborne, please contact Wendy Gonzales at wendy.gonzales@austin.utexas.edu or 512-471-8921.

2017 Texas Fatherhood Summit

April 12, 2017cfrp, events, fathers

final

The second annual Texas Fatherhood Summit: Strengthening Services to Support Fathers hosted by the Child and Family Research Partnership at The University of Texas at Austin LBJ School of Public Affairs and the Texas DFPS Prevention and Early Intervention Division was held on March 24, 2017. The event was held as part of CFRP’s partnership with the state to develop a comprehensive approach to supporting fathers and strengthening Texas families.

The 2017 Texas Fatherhood Summit brought together researchers, policymakers, and practitioners in the field of fatherhood from all over the state and country. The theme of this year’s Summit was “Strengthening Services to Support Fathers.” Speakers discussed the challenges and opportunities in recruiting, providing services, and retaining fathers in programs. CFRP shared what the research shows on how to know if programs are really working, and providers shared lessons learned as they support Texas dads.

 

Links:

 

Today’s Fathers

June 17, 2016fathers


Our expectations of fathers have changed over time, for the better. Though the father’s role in child-rearing has traditionally been understood solely in terms of financial support, research now shows that fathers’ involvement in their children’s lives is critical to healthy child development. The Child and Family Research Partnership (CFRP) aims to better understand the role that fathers play in shaping their child’s health and wellbeing through rigorous research focused on fathers.

7d486c55-6167-4107-9a3f-4ee114d335a1In our recent news post, “The Changing American Family and the Evolving Concept of Fatherhood,” we discuss how changing family dynamics have led to a shift in the concept of fatherhood in just the past 40 years and the importance of fathers serving as more involved caregivers.

As views about fatherhood continue to evolve, so does the nature of parenting programs. Today many parenting programs focus specifically on fathers, which in the past were purely targeted to mothers. In “Making Good on Fatherhood: A Review of Fatherhood Research,” we discuss the landscape of father-focused programs and what the current evidence says about them.

Bottom line – when fathers are involved, kids benefit. These benefits range from enhanced academic performance and impulse control to reduced likelihood of having a teen birth or spending time in jail. Our infographic, “The Importance of Father Involvement,” simply illustrates the impact of an involved father on the outcomes of their children.

For more about our research on fathers, please go to http://childandfamilyresearch.org/publications/fathers.

From Vietnam to Today: The Changing American Family and the Evolving Concept of Fatherhood

April 27, 2016demographics, fathers, mothers

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This week, the LBJ Presidential Library and The University of Texas at Austin are hosting a historic event exploring the lessons and legacy of the Vietnam War. The war’s impact on U.S. foreign policy, Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidency, and American culture is unquestionable.

As the war came to an end in 1975, soldiers coming home returned to a changing America and a changing American family. The United States was undergoing a major shift from the structural family norms of the preceding century, becoming more open and accepting of different family dynamics.

In the 1970s, two-thirds of families thought it was better if fathers were breadwinners and mothers homemakers

Family views on the roles of men and women have changed greatly. In the 1970s, two-thirds of families thought it was better if fathers were breadwinners and mothers homemakers, whereas in 2014, less than one-third of families had this view.[1]

There has been a shift in marriage trends, with overall marriage rates declining over the past fifty years. Today just over 50 percent of Americans are married as compared to 72 percent in 1960s [2].  The number of children born to unmarried mothers has increased significantly. In 2014, 40.3 percent of children were born to unmarried parents, compared to less than 10 percent throughout the 1960s.[3] Cohabitation among parents has become much more common, now accounting for 58 percent of all births outside of marriage.[4]

Changing norms for women have also affected family structures and dynamics. No-fault divorce laws were adopted beginning with California in 1969 and then spread to all 50 states.[5] During the 1960s and 1970s, legal access to birth control including oral contraceptives became increasingly available, and in 1973 the U.S. Supreme Court made abortion legal in the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.[6] These cultural changes created new opportunities for women and led to an increased presence in the labor market, doubling from 30.3 million in the 1970s to 72.7 million in the mid-2000s.[7]

Research shows that fathers’ involvement in their children’s lives has many benefits

As family dynamics changed, however, most of America continued to view fathers only as breadwinners, neglecting to understand and value the important role they can play as caregivers to their children. A growing body of research shows that fathers’ involvement in their children’s lives has many benefits. High-quality father involvement and support are associated with positive child outcomes, such as decreased delinquency and behavioral problems, improved cognitive development, increased educational attainment, and better psychological well-being.[8]

Historically social programs have been geared almost exclusively towards mothers and children, but now there are a growing number of new programs targeted specifically at fathers,” says Dr. Cynthia Osborne, policy professor and director of CFRP. “Today, federal and state policymakers recognize that dads are more than a paycheck or child support payment, and that supporting them as active participants also supports the children.

Fatherhood programs have now evolved from a narrow focus on financial stability and support to a more balanced agenda that emphasizes healthy relationships, parenting skills, and father involvement. Though the programs take a variety of approaches towards achieving these ends, they share the common goal of ensuring that fathers are positively involved in their children’s lives.

American families have indeed changed dramatically since the Vietnam War-era and continue to be dynamic today. Recognizing the importance of the role of the father is one way to support them.

Dr. Cynthia Osborne and her team at her policy research group, the Child and Family Research Partnership (CFRP) at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, are currently working with the state of Texas to develop a comprehensive approach to supporting fathers and their children.

More about CFRP’s research on fatherhood at childandfamilyresearch.org/publications/fathers.

 


[1] Cotter, D. & Hermsen, J. (2014). Brief: Back on Track? The Stall and Rebound in Support for Women’s New Roles in Work and Politics, 1977-2012. Council on Contemporary Families. Retrieved from: https://contemporaryfamilies.org/gender-revolution-rebound-brief-back-on-track.

[2] Taylor, P., Parker, K., Coh, D., Passel, J., Livingston, G., (2011) Barely Half of U.S. Adults Are Married – A Record Low. Pew Research Center. Social & Demographic Trends. Retrieved from: http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2011/12/14/barely-half-of-u-s-adults-are-married-a-record-low.

[3] Child Trends Databank. (2015). Births to unmarried women. Retrieved from http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=births-to-unmarried-women.

[4] Curtin, S.C., Ventura, S.J., & Martinez, G.M. (2014). Recent Declines in Nonmarital Childbearing in the United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics Data Brief No. 162, August 2014. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db162.htm.

[5] Katz, S.N. (1994). Historical Perspective and Current Trends in the Legal Process of Divorce. Children and Divorce 4(1). Retrieved from http://www.futureofchildren.org/publications/journals/article/index.xml?journalid=63&articleid=410&sectionid=2795.

[6] Our Bodies Ourselves. “A Brief History of Birth Control in the U.S.” Retrieved from http://www.ourbodiesourselves.org/health-info/a-brief-history-of-birth-control.

[7] United States Census Bureau (2014). How Do We Know? America’s Changing Labor Force. Retrieved from: http://www.census.gov/library/infographics/labor_force.html.

[8] Carlson, M.J. & Magnuson, K. (2011) Low-Income Fathers’ Influence on Children. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 635(95) 95-116.; Carlson, M.J., McLanahan, S., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2007) Fathers’ Involvement and Young Children’s Behavior in Fragile Families. Extended Abstract.; Carlson, M.J., McLanahan, S. (2009) Fathers in Fragile Families. Center for Research on Child Wellbeing. Working Paper WP09-14-FF.; Harris, K.M., Furstenberg, F.F. & Marmer, J.K. (1998). Paternal involvement with adolescents in intact families: The influence of fathers over the life course. Demography. 35 (2), 201-216.; Carlson, M. J. (2006), Family Structure, Father Involvement, and Adolescent Behavioral Outcomes. Journal of Marriage and Family, 68, 137–154.

New Award: Effectiveness of Fatherhood Programs in Texas

February 10, 2016cfrp, fathers

FATHER INVOLVEMENT | Responsible Fatherhood

  • Grant: Effectiveness of Fatherhood Programs in Texas
  • Sponsor: DFPS Prevention and Early Intervention

Fatherhood programs have evolved since the 1990s from focusing on a father’s financial support role to a more balanced approach that emphasizes healthy relationships, parenting skills, and involvement. State and federal funding for these programs now number in the hundreds of millions of dollars per year, however few fatherhood programs have undergone rigorous evaluation. As a result, policymakers and program administrators have a limited understanding of their effectiveness.

Recognizing this gap in knowledge, the Texas Department of Family Protective Services, Prevention and Early Intervention Division asked CFRP to develop a comprehensive approach to supporting fathers in Texas. CFRP will be assessing the state and evidence base for fatherhood programs in Texas and the country. See CFRP’s newest fatherhood report laying the groundwork: Making Good on Fatherhood: A Review of the Fatherhood Research (PDF).

More: CFRP’s fatherhood research | Resources from 2016 Texas Fatherhood Summit

 

CFRP Event – Texas Fatherhood Summit: Building the Evidence Base for Fatherhood Programs on Feb. 3

January 14, 2016events, fathers, home visiting, mothers, paternity

 

UPDATE: Find all post-event links and resources at http://www.childandfamilyresearch.org/about/texas-fatherhood-summit-2016/

_____________________________

 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016 – The University of Texas at Austin, AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center

Registration: txfatherhoodsummit.eventbrite.com

The Child and Family Research Partnership at The University of Texas at Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs and the Texas DFPS’ Prevention and Early Intervention division are hosting the “Texas Fatherhood Summit: Building the Evidence Base for Fatherhood Programs” in Austin, Texas. The Summit brings together researchers, policymakers, and practitioners in the field of fatherhood to exchange ideas and assess the state of fatherhood programs throughout the country.

We are honored to have national fatherhood expert Dr. Ronald Mincy as our keynote speaker. Dr. Mincy is the Director of the Center for Research on Fathers, Children and Family Well-Being and Social Policy Professor at Columbia University. He will speak on the importance of fathers in their children’s lives and why research in this field is so critical. Dr. Cynthia Osborne, Director of The University of Texas at Austin’s Child and Family Research Partnership will also present an overview of the strategies for evaluating and building a comprehensive evidence base.

The Summit will include a series of panels for perspectives from the national, state, and provider levels on what the evidence says about fatherhood programs and the impact on future policy decisions. The top national fatherhood program evaluators from Mathematica, MDRC, and the Fatherhood Research and Practice Network (FRPN) will talk about what questions they are trying to answer about fathers and their preliminary findings. Policy leaders from state agencies from Texas will discuss the landscape of their state-wide fatherhood initiatives as examples for the nation. Then, fatherhood program providers will share their invaluable work of supporting fathers in the communities.

 

AGENDA 

 

 

Time

Session

7:30am – 8:45am Breakfast Provided
7:30am – 9:00am Check-In
9:00am – 10:15am Introduction:
  • Cynthia Osborne, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Director The University of Texas at Austin’s Child and Family Research Partnership
  • Sasha Rasco, Director of Texas Department of Family and Protective Services’ Prevention and Early Intervention

Keynote Speaker:

  • Ron Mincy, Ph.D., Maurice V. Russell Professor of Social Policy and Social Work Practice at the Columbia University School of Social Work, and a co-principal investigator of the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study

10:15am-10:30amBreak10:30am – 12 noonIntroduction to Fatherhood Program Research:

  • Cynthia Osborne, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Director The University of Texas at Austin’s Child and Family Research Partnership

National Panel on Fatherhood Research and Evaluation:

  • Moderated by Cynthia Osborne, Ph.D.
  • Robin Dion, Senior Fellow at Mathematica Policy Research
  • Virginia Knox, Ph.D., Director of Families and Children at MDRC
  • Jessica Pearson, Ph.D., Co-Director of the Fatherhood Research and Practice Network and Director of the Center for Policy Research

12:00pm – 1:00pmLunch Provided1:00pm  – 2:45pmState Panel on Investing in Texas Fathers:

  • Moderated by Sasha Rasco, Director of Texas Department of Family and Protective Services’ Prevention and Early Intervention
  • Krista Del Gallo, Policy Manager at the Texas Council on Family Violence
  • Noelita Lugo, Director of Family Initiatives at the Texas Office of the Attorney General
  • Nicole Murry, Healthy Texas Babies Nurse Consultant at the Texas Department of State Health Services
  • Kenneth Thompson, Fatherhood Program Specialist at the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services

2:45pm-3:00pmBreak3:00pm – 4:30pmProvider Panel on Supporting Fathers in the Communities:

  • Moderated by Michael Hayes, Senior Programs Manager at the Administration for Children and Families’ Office of Child Support Enforcement
  • Russell Booth, Fatherhood EFFECT Educator at the Child Crisis Center of El Paso
  • Martin Castaneda, Fatherhood Engagement Coordinator at UT Permian Basin’s Healthy Outcomes through Prevention and Early Support (HOPES)
  • Nakia Edwards, Assistant Director of Workforce and Family Strengthening at AVANCE Houston
  • Tommy Jordan, Executive Director at NewDay Services for Children and Families

4:30pm – 5:00pmBuilding the Evidence Base in Texas:

  • Cynthia Osborne, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Director The University of Texas at Austin’s Child and Family Research Partnership

5:00pm – 6:00pmNetworking Reception (Tejas Dining Room)

 

EVENT HASHTAGS - We encourage everyone to tweet now and during the Summit with the event hashtags: #TXdads2016 #fatherhood. You can start now and let people know you’re coming – follow/tag the Child and Family Research Partnership at @CFRPlbj and we’ll retweet you!

SUMMIT LOCATION AND ROOM - The Summit, including breakfast and lunch, will be held in the Ballroom/Salon C on the third floor of conference side of the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center (1900 University Avenue, Austin, TX 78705). Click here for the Google Map link to AT&T. Breakfast and check-in begin at 7:30am, and the program begins at 9:00am.

PARKING - Free on-site event parking will be provided – you must park in the parking garage at AT&T. The AT&T parking garage entrance is on the north side of the building off W. 20th Street (see photo below). Please keep your paper ticket, and at check-in, it can be exchanged for a free parking pass to be used when you exit. [Please Note: Free parking passes are provided only for parking on-site at AT&T. Attendees are responsible for parking off-site in nearby garages.]

For full details and registration, go to txfatherhoodsummit.eventbrite.com.

Please contact cfrp@austin.utexas.edu  if you have questions.

 

CFRP at the 2015 APPAM Fall Research Conference

November 10, 2015cfrp, fathers, home visiting, osborne

appam2.fwThe APPAM Fall Research Conference is the main conference of the year for scholars from around the world and is this week in Miami. Attendees convene to both present and learn about the most current research on policy and management issues from 14 different policy areas. This year’s conference program is centered around the theme, “The Golden Age of Evidence-Based Policy.”

CFRP director Cynthia Osborne will be presenting her papers throughout the conference as well as participating in events as an elected member of the APPAM Policy Council:

Panel 11/12/15 – How Can We Expand Home Visiting to Engage Dads? Strategies, Enhancements, and Early Program Impacts (8:30am, Merrick I)

  • Panel Paper – Engaging Fathers: Expanding the Scope of Evidence-Based Home Visiting Programs (Anna Lipton Galbraith, Cynthia Osborne, Jennifer Winter Craver and Ruy Manrique-Betanzos)

Panel 11/12/15 – Designing Evaluations to Strengthen Policy and Practice: Current Research on Evidence-Based Home Visiting Programs (10:15 am, Merrick I)

  • Panel Paper – Challenges of Serving and Retaining High-Risk Families in Evidence-Based Home Visiting Programs (Cynthia Osborne and Allison C. Dubin)

Panel 11/14/15 - Father Involvement: Trends, Implications, and Opportunities (8:30am, Merrick I)

  • Panel Paper – Exploring the Role of Fathers’ Birth Presence in Mothers’ Mental Health Outcomes (Daniel Dillon, Cynthia Osborne, and Holly Sexton)

 

Click for detailed conference schedule.

Follow the conference and CFRP on Twitter at #2015APPAM.

 

Infographic: The Importance of Father Involvement

June 19, 2015fathers, infographic, visualization

Children benefit in many ways if their dads are involved in their lives. A positive father-child relationship can improve a child’s social skills, grades, and health. In addition, a healthy relationship between mom and dad makes it significantly more likely that a child will benefit from times spent with their dads.

Research shows that the children who grow up with involved fathers have concrete benefits:

Infographic_ImportanceofFathers_062015

 Share on Twitter | Share on Facebook | Click for PDF | Click for Image | Citations

1. Nord, Christine, & West, Jerry. (2001) Fathers’ and Mothers’ Involvement in Their Children’s Schools by Family Type and Resident Status. (NCES 2001-032). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics.

2. Martin, A., Ryan, R. M., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2007). The joint influence of mother and father parenting on child cognitive outcomes at age 5. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 22(4), 423-439.

3. Yogman, MW, Kindlon, D., & Earls, F. (1995). Father involvement and cognitive/behavioral outcomes of preterm infants. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 34(1), 58-66.

4. Furstenberg, F.F, & Harris, K.M. (1993). When and why fathers matter: Impacts of father involvement on the children of adolescent mothers. Pp. 117-38 in Young Unwed Fathers: Changing Roles and Emerging Policies. Edited by R.I. Lerman and T.J. Ooms. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.

5. Bronte-Tinkew, J., Carrano, J., Horowitz, A., & Kinukawa, A. (2008). Involvement among resident fathers and links to infant cognitive outcomes. Journal of Family Issues, 29, 1211-1244.

 

Additional Research:

Related Publications:

 

Mothers Hesitant about Father Involvement at Greater Risk of Family Violence

May 5, 2015fathers, mothers, relat_violence

Most unmarried mothers want the father of their child to be an involved and active parent. In fact, when asked several months after giving birth, more than 8 in 10 unmarried mothers say that they want the father “completely involved” when it comes to raising the child in the coming years. This unequivocal answer, it turns out, says a lot about the parents’ relationship and future prospects.

A mother who answers “not involved at all” also sends a clear message about her relationship with the father and where events are headed. Somewhat less obvious, however, is what to make of the 14 percent of mothers who put the ideal level of father involvement at “greatly”, “somewhat” or “slightly” involved. These hazy objectives, it seems, also say something critical about the parents’ relationship—especially when it comes to family violence.

Though overall 2 in 10 unmarried mothers report violence from the father of their child, the rate of abuse is more than twice as high among mothers who hesitate to sanction full father involvement. Policymakers, practitioners, and advocates working with mothers should pay greater attention to even minor signs of reluctance when it comes to endorsing fathers’ participation. Equivocation, it turns out, may be a form of protection.

CFRP Child and Family Research Partnership: Mothers Hesitant about Father Involvement at Greater Risk of Family Violence

 

TWEET THIS!

– by Daniel Dillon, Senior Research Associate

 

For more, please see:

 

 

CFRP Paper: Understanding Today’s Changing Families, Family Court Review

April 20, 2015family instability, fathers

CaptureMore than 40% of children in the US are now born outside of marriage. While their unmarried parents may have high expectations for the future, they are particularly vulnerable to financial and relationship instability. CFRP’s Cynthia Osborne and Nora Ankrum explore this issue in newly published paper, “Understanding Today’s Changing Families,” Family Court Review.

Link to publisher and PDF: 

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/fcre.12146/abstract#
Authors: Cynthia OsborneNora Ankrum

ABSTRACT:

When their children are born, most unmarried parents have high expectations for the future, but they are particularly vulnerable to financial and relationship instability. Their children are disproportionately likely to experience negative health and wellbeing outcomes, in part because of low father involvement. We provide an overview of the findings in this area, drawing primarily from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study and two studies conducted by the Child and Family Research Partnership at The University of Texas at Austin. We conclude that father involvement is largely a function of parental relationship quality, and that interventions designed to improve child outcomes should focus on enhancement of co-parenting skills.

Key Points for the Family Court Community
  • Relative to their married peers, unmarried parents face distinct barriers to financial and relationship stability.
  • Children of unmarried parents are more likely to experience negative outcomes for health and wellbeing, in part because of low father involvement.
  • One of the most consistent predictors of father involvement is the quality of the father’s relationship with the mother.
  • Interventions that teach co-parenting skills may enhance relationship quality and increase positive father involvement.

 

A Father’s Support: More to it Than the Money

March 30, 2015child_support, economic security, fathers

78773852_modAfter seven years in conversation with nearly 400 low-income men, authors of a new study in the Journal of Marriage and Family are lending fresh insight into the ways that low-income fathers support their children in other households. Drawing on repeated semi-structured interviews, Kane, Nelson and Edin find that poor noncustodial fathers provide surprising amounts of support in the form of diapers, clothes, food, and childcare. These non-cash goods and services, referred to as in-kind support, make up about one-quarter of the overall support nonresident fathers provide, and total an average of $60 per month in value. Though paternal support has traditionally been thought of in financial terms, a more comprehensive accounting of fathers’ contributions reveals that in-kind goods and services make up a significant portion of their efforts.

Though paternal support has traditionally been thought of in financial terms, a more comprehensive accounting of fathers’ contributions reveals that in-kind goods and services make up a significant portion of their efforts.

Talk to a noncustodial father though, and he may not think of buying shoes and toys as support at all. In fact, Kane et al. note that the overwhelming characterization of in-kind support by fathers is relational, not financial. Sharing a meal with one’s child is seen as a way of bonding—not a mental calculation involving some share of the child’s overall cost.

To help paint a more comprehensive picture of in-kind support, CFRP analyzed how often Texas men who fathered a child outside of marriage contribute things such as clothes, childcare, food, medicine, or toys by the time the child is 3 years old. Importantly, these fathers established paternity in the hospital at the time of the child’s birth, making an initial commitment to the child and setting themselves apart from the smaller segment of fathers who sidestepped legal parenthood at the birth and are apt to provide much less. Among this group who established legal paternity at the birth, 6 in 10 are still living with the mother and child three years later. For these fathers, the provision of in-kind support is built into their daily lives with the family.

For the remaining 40 percent of fathers who do not live with the mother however, in-kind support is far less assured. When asked how often nonresident fathers provide things such as clothes, food, medicine, toys, or childcare, 4 in 10 mothers report that the father never provides these things, while another 28 percent say that the father only contributes in this way a handful of times throughout the year [Figure 1]. The majority of fathers who fail to provide in-kind support also fail to provide informal financial support, and 54 percent are already in the formal child support system by the time their child is 3 years old (not shown). Though it’s possible that entry into the formal system causes some fathers who were providing in-kind support to dial down or terminate their contributions, a likely scenario for many is that the father was never providing in-kind support to begin with. In these cases, the child support system acts as a safety net, jumpstarting the flow of support and lifting the economic wellbeing of children in its care.

Figure 1: Frequency of In-Kind Support

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For more: CFRP’s research on Father Involvement and Support

 

– by Daniel Dillon, Senior Research Associate

 

CFRP on MIECHV Webinar: Fathers and Home Visiting

March 12, 2015fathers, home visiting

030415CFRP Director Cynthia Osborne was asked to talk about the Texas home visiting evaluation on the Design Options for Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Evaluation (DOHVE) Evaluation Webinar Series on March 4, 2015. She spoke about one of several interventions aiming to enhance the home visiting programs, strategies to increase father participation.

Dr. Osborne answered several key questions:

  1. How do fathers participate in home visiting programs?
  2. What are the barriers to father participation?
  3. What program strategies are associated with higher levels of father participation?
  4. How do home visitor characteristics enhance and limit the effectiveness of father engagement strategies?
  5. How do family characteristics enhance and limit the effectiveness of father engagement strategies?

For the full presentation, please see below. See more on CFRP’s research on home visiting and father participation in home visiting.

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Date: March 4, 2015
Event: Design Options for Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Evaluation (DOHVE) Evaluation Webinar Series
Title: Increasing Father Participation in Evidence-Based Home Visiting Programs
PresenterDr. Cynthia Osborne