Archive for the ‘mothers’ Category

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

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

The Moms of CFRP 2016

May 6, 2016cfrp, mothers

We, those of us with older kids anyway, joke around here that the one thing we really want for Mother’s Day is to get a break from being a mom. Our newest moms however don’t have that feeling yet so we wanted to bask in their joy of the newness of parenthood. We’ve been fortunate to have several new and soon-to-be additions to the CFRP family, and we wanted to share the happy news as we celebrate Mother’s Day this year. To all the moms out there, happy Mother’s Day from CFRP! We hope you do get a break and find some time to recharge your mom batteries.

Arthur René Warden
(aka Artie)

Born: May 2, 2016 (4 days old!!)

New mom and CFRP research analyst Nora Ankrum got a surprise this week when Artie decided to show up a month earlier than expected, but both are doing great! At 20.5 inches at 35 weeks, Artie already has basketball plans in his future according to Nora’s husband.


Samuel William Dubin
(aka Sam)

Born: December 23, 2015

Allison Dubin, CFRP research associate, and her husband got the best Christmas gift of all – Sam! At four months, Sam has acquired the skill of waking up in the middle of the night ready to play with mom and dad, which is just what Allison needed having returned from maternity leave. But Allison now also knows the joys of getting baby cuddles after a busy day at the office.


Baby Gerber

Due: August 5, 2016

Abby Lane, CFRP research assistant and LBJ School of Public Affairs doctoral candidate, gets to enjoy the pleasures of being pregnant during our awesome Texas summers. During her last trimester (in air conditioning), Abby strives to get much of her dissertation proposal completed before Baby Gerber arrives. She and her husband are currently enjoying each baby kick, which are getting stronger and stronger!


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

April 27, 2016demographics, fathers, mothers



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


[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:

[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:

[3] Child Trends Databank. (2015). Births to unmarried women. Retrieved from

[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:

[5] Katz, S.N. (1994). Historical Perspective and Current Trends in the Legal Process of Divorce. Children and Divorce 4(1). Retrieved from

[6] Our Bodies Ourselves. “A Brief History of Birth Control in the U.S.” Retrieved from

[7] United States Census Bureau (2014). How Do We Know? America’s Changing Labor Force. Retrieved from:

[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.

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



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


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.







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

Please contact  if you have questions.


The Home Visitor-Mother Relationship is Key to Program Success

November 24, 2015home visiting, mothers

Home visiting programs match families with para-professionals, known as home visitors, who visit families in their home during pregnancy and throughout early childhood. Home visitors provide information on building supportive home environments, encourage positive parenting practices, and help parent’s access resources that improve child and family outcomes.

The success of home visiting programs is often measured by positive long-term outcomes such as improved school readiness, maternal and child health, and decreases in family violence.  These outcomes strengthen families while also producing cost-savings due to reductions in remedial education, healthcare costs, and by improving the self-sufficiency of families.[1]

“We have benefited greatly from this program. Our [home visitor] is extremely helpful and always there to lend a hand, be-it to inform me on what to expect from my child’s growing milestones and to listen to my concerns and just there for emotional support.”— THV Mother

The Child and Family Research Partnership’s analysis of qualitative and quantitative data collected from both mothers and home visitors in the Texas Home Visiting (THV) program, shows that other, more immediate positive outcomes are associated with program participation, mostly as a result of a mother’s relationship with her home visitor.

CFRP surveyed approximately 1,700 mothers participating in the statewide THV program to examine families’ experiences in home visiting programs, including the relationship between mothers and home visitors. The majority of mothers surveyed strongly agree that their home visitor provides them with useful information (81.5%), can be trusted with personal information (79.2%), and arrives on time when they have an appointment (78.3%). A smaller, but still substantial share of mothers also strongly agree that their home visitor is a source of emotional support (63.8%).

Furthermore, by understanding a family’s needs, the home visitor becomes a gateway to community resources that address pressing needs, from parent-centered services such as education and employment, to child-centered services such as Early Childhood Intervention and Pre-K. More than three-quarters (78%) of mothers report gaining access to resources in their community as a reason for participating in a home visiting program (43.6% strongly agree and 34.4% agree).  Additionally, 75 percent of mothers strongly agree that their home visitor helps them find resources when they have a need.  See Figure 1.

Figure 1. Mothers’ Reports on Their Home Visitor


Mothers value their home visitor not only as a provider of important information, but also as a link to community resources.  These findings suggest that mothers value their relationships with home visitors across personal, educational, and emotional domains.

“My home-visitor is so special. She has helped me to become a better mother to my son. I learn from her all the time. I consider her a friend and I am able to confide in her and rely on her to help me find resources. I love my nurse and I couldn't imagine going through my pregnancy without her. She gives me encouragement and emotional support.”— THV Mother

[1] Schmit, S., Schott, L., Pavetti, L., and Matthews, H. (2015) Effective, Evidence-Based Home Visiting Programs in Every State at Risk if Congress Does Not Extend Funding. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. (Accessed 09/21/2015)


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



– by Daniel Dillon, Senior Research Associate


For more, please see:



Maternal Depression and Home Visiting Programs

July 24, 2013early childhood, family instability, home visiting, mothers

101141090_smDepression is one of the most prevalent mood disorders among mothers, with about one in five mothers experiencing clinical levels of depression in their lifetimes.1 Maternal depression is linked with a host of negative outcomes for children. As mothers’ depressive symptoms increase, the quality of parenting declines, and developmental delays and problems in children increase. Children of depressed mothers also are more likely to have insecure attachment with their mothers, experience high social withdrawal, have poor communication and language skills, perform poorly on cognitive tasks, and show more disruptive behaviors across developmental periods.2 Particularly among low-income families, financial difficulties and related resource scarcity increase the detrimental impacts of maternal depression on the children’s adjustment, the mother’s health status, and the family’s functioning as a whole.3

The federal government and the state of Texas are working to prevent and treat maternal depression, particularly for low-income mothers. As part of the Texas Home Visiting Program, which CFRP is evaluating, some home visiting programs across the state are working directly with mothers to determine whether a mother is depressed and to provide help for a mother who reports depression. In numerous studies, researchers have found that participation in home visiting programs is associated with improvements in mothers’ mental health; however, researchers are as of yet uncertain about what components of home visiting programs are having these impacts.

Theoretically, multiple components in home visiting programs – such as parenting skills training, group activities, father involvement, community services information, or mother/child health screenings – could potentially increase mothers’ parenting efficacy, self-sufficiency, and social support within the family and from the community. Any of these factors could, in turn, reduce their parenting stress. Those components might not only directly reduce mothers’ depressive symptoms in the short term but, more importantly, help mothers to adopt coping strategies that would prevent maternal depression from reoccurring after the mother’s complete the home visiting programs.

-Ni Yan, Graduate Research Assistant



  1. Hasin, D. S., Goodwin, R. D., Stinson, F. S., & Grant, B. F. (2005). Epidemiology of major depressive disorder: results from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcoholism and Related Conditions. Archives of General Psychiatry, 54, 1097
  2. Goodman, S. H., Rouse, M. H., Connell, A. M., Broth, M. R., Hall, C. M., & Heyward, D. (2011). Maternal depression and child psychopathology: A meta-analytic review. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 14, 1–27.
  3. Petterson, S. M., & Albers, A. B. (2001). Effects of poverty and maternal depression on early child development. Child Development, 72, 1794-1813.
  4. Hasin, D. S., Goodwin, R. D., Stinson, F. S., & Grant, B. F. (2005). Epidemiology of major depressive disorder: results from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcoholism and Related Conditions. Archives of General Psychiatry, 54, 1097