Abstract: The Effects of the Dads Matter Intervention on Father Engagement and Involvement: Preliminary Findings (Society for Social Work and Research 22nd Annual Conference - Achieving Equal Opportunity, Equity, and Justice)

The Effects of the Dads Matter Intervention on Father Engagement and Involvement: Preliminary Findings

Thursday, January 11, 2018: 4:27 PM
Marquis BR Salon 10 (ML 2) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Aaron Banman, MSW, PhD Student, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Justin Harty, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Neil Guterman, PhD, Professor, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Jennifer Bellamy, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Denver, Denver, CO
Sandra Morales-Mirque, BA, Project Coordinator, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Background and Purpose: Fathers’ participation in child and family services has the potential to boost mothers’ engagement in interventions and extend outcomes. Further, positive fathering has been linked to important home visiting outcomes such as child maltreatment prevention. However, the field of home visitation has largely overlooked fathers’ roles in the family. As a result, scant evidence is available to guide home visiting programs in best addressing fathers’ roles in promoting positive child and family outcomes. This paper describes the preliminary results of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of an enhancement to home visitation services that addresses fathers and their roles in their young children’s lives, called “Dads Matter”. Dads Matter is a manualized intervention designed to assess the fathers’ role in the family to determine how he may best be engaged to build an effective, supportive, and productive coparenting team with the child’s mother.

Methods: A multisite clustered RCT was conducted, beginning with twenty-one home visiting program supervisors across five large organizations, including 204 families across condition. Supervisors were randomized to deliver Dads Matter enhanced services or home visiting services as usual, and those within the enhancement (intervention) condition implemented the enhancement through a train-the-trainer model. In this paper, we present preliminary findings on the outcomes of the intervention on fathers’ engagement and involvement including self-report measures of the father-home visitor relationship quality, father involvement inventories, and a newly developed Father Attitudes Scale. Multilevel analyses are used to accommodate the clustered nature of the data.

Results: A high proportion of the 203 families (90%) were retained for 4-month follow-up interviews. To date, 80% have been retained at 1 year follow-up. The majority of parents identified as being Latino or African American and unmarried. Fidelity data was positive, showing that the proportion of fathers in home visits increased in the intervention condition and workers in the intervention condition increased the proportion of services they provide to fathers. Preliminary analysis of 4 month outcome data suggest effect sizes generally range from small to medium. The analyses indicate that fathers’ interactions were generally more positive in home visits and less negative versus the control group fathers. Both mothers and fathers reported a significant increase in father engagement at 4 months. Mothers additionally reported an increase in their views of the father’s role in caregiving and in the child’s life, and fathers reported improvements in their attitudes regarding the value of their contributions to their children’s wellbeing.

Conclusions and Implications: Results of this study suggest that Dads Matter is a potentially feasible, acceptable, and effective approach to increasing fathers’ engagement in services. Preliminary intervention outcomes are suggestive of improvements for families who receive home visiting enhanced with Dads Matter, as compared to families who receive home visiting alone, in terms of increasing fathers’ participation in home visiting and improving their attitudes. Engagement and quality of interactions, both in services and in parenting, are also evidenced by these findings.