Fatherhood | Supports for Fathers

Effectiveness of Fatherhood Programs in Texas 

A substantial body of research shows that children with involved fathers fare better across nearly every measure of child wellbeing, from cognitive development and educational achievement to self-esteem and pro-social behavior. Programs designed specifically to support fathers in their role as parents, however, are relatively new to the policy landscape. Fatherhood programs have evolved 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 is evaluating efforts to support fathers through class-based programming in multiple sites across the state (Texas EFFECT Fatherhood Program), assessing the evidence base for fatherhood programs in Texas and the country, and examining the extent to which the needs of fathers are being met by existing programs and services in Texas. This evaluation will serve to provide a deeper understanding and enriched evidence base for improving the welfare of Texas children and their families. 

AVANCE Fatherhood Program Evaluation

Increasing fathers’ involvement in their children’s lives has become a focus of both federal and state-funded programs over the past 15 years. One way to engage fathers is through father-specific, class-based programming. With federal funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, AVANCE, Inc. developed a fatherhood curriculum to serve fathers in Houston and the Rio Grande Valley. AVANCE is a non-profit organization with over 40 years of experience providing family education and support services to predominantly Latino and African-American families in Texas. The curriculum promotes father engagement and involvement, co-parenting, and healthy relationship skills. CFRP is conducting both a randomized controlled trial impact evaluation and an implementation evaluation to determine the demographic and relationship characteristics of fathers who choose to participate in the AVANCE fatherhood program; the impact of the program on fathers’ engagement and involvement with their children; the impact of the program on fathers’ parenting, co-parenting, and relationship skills; and whether the effects of the program are similar for various groups of fathers. The findings from this evaluation will advance the field of knowledge by providing rigorous evidence on the impact of a comprehensive fatherhood program on enhancing a father’s ability to be involved with and parent his child.

Father Participation in Home Visiting Programs

Although research shows that fathers matter for child development, there is a lack of father participation in home visiting programs and limited research on why and how fathers participate in the programs. CFRP is studying the factors and impacts of father participation in home visiting programs. The study supplements CFRP’s implementation evaluation and the family retention evaluation of the state-wide Texas Home Visiting program. CFRP aims to better understand what influences fathers’ participation in home visiting, including the family characteristics and program factors, to inform practice among the national home visiting community. Texas is the only state to use MIECHV (Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting) funding to specifically evaluate father participation in home visiting programs.


Resources: Fatherhood Publications and Posts

More Fatherhood projects: Paternity Establishment, Child Support