The Father Factor

Final PACT Report Reveals 4 Fatherhood Programs Batted .500

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Jul 25, 2018

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If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll recall that for the past three years I’ve shared findings from one of the most significant ongoing studies of responsible fatherhood programs called the Parents and Children Together (PACT) evaluation, which has been funded by the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This seven-year evaluation has involved qualitative and quantitative research.

I have blogged about the qualitative findings on several occasions. I have blogged about:

  • Two of the specific qualitative findings of this study—released as briefs—and how you can use the findings to improve your work with dads. Click here to read my post on why using an “open entry” program is a bad idea. Click here to ready my post on how dads in these four programs view co-parenting.
  • The comprehensive, final report on this portion of the evaluation that also includes the researchers’ recommendations for fatherhood programs. Click here to read that post.

On the heels of the release of the report on the qualitative findings, OPRE recently released the report on the quantitative findings. In addition to its quantitative focus, what makes this portion of the study distinct from the other portion is the primary research question:

  • How does offering responsible fatherhood (RF) services to low-income fathers affect their parenting, co-parenting, economic stability, and well-being one year after study enrollment?

The findings presented in the report are significant because of the sample size of fathers involved and the use of random assignment into intervention and control groups. Researchers randomly assigned more than 5,500 fathers who participated across the four programs into intervention and control groups.

Here are the findings—copied verbatim from the report—on the answers to the primary research question.

  • The RF programs in PACT improved fathers’ parenting, specifically their self-reported nurturing behavior and engagement in age-appropriate activities with children.
  • The RF programs in PACT did not affect co-parenting.
  • Earnings were similar for the program and control groups, but the RF programs increased the length of time fathers were continuously employed.
  • The RF programs in PACT did not affect measures of social-emotional and mental well-being, such as depressive symptoms and belief in whether they could control their life circumstances instead of being controlled by external factors.

To use a baseball analogy, the RF programs batted .500, an outstanding average. There’s no doubt they would have liked to have batted 1.000, but, as the researchers point out, a number of factors within and outside control of the programs could have affected the outcomes. What’s most important is what these programs learned to improve.

I encourage you to read the report to learn more about the components of the four programs, the evaluation design, details on the findings, and recommendations. Click here to download it.

 

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