The Society for Social Work and Research

2013 Annual Conference

January 16-20, 2013 I Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina I San Diego, CA

Engaging Fathers in Triple P

Friday, January 18, 2013: 8:30 AM
Seabreeze 1 and 2 (Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina)
* noted as presenting author
Patricia L. Kohl, PhD, Assistant Professor, Washington University in Saint Louis, St. Louis, MO
Background and Purpose:

Children with a positive father figure have increased competence and social skills and fewer behavior problems. Fathers who lack financial security and have limited parenting experience need programs and services that will equip them with the skills necessary to be healthy, responsible and involved parents. Yet, these fathers are often excluded from parenting programs aimed at reducing child behavior problems and preventing child maltreatment, and very few parenting programs targeting fathers have been developed or evaluated. The purpose of this study was to develop and pilot test a strategy to engage fathers in one evidence-based parenting program, Triple P, when delivered within a father-focused community based agency. This presentation will describe the process undertaken to develop the engagement strategy and report preliminary process findings.


Stakeholder input was obtained from African American fathers and fatherhood service providers via multiple methods: focus groups (n=29), face-to-face interviews (n=19), and telephone interviews (n=19). Triple P was also delivered to fathers (n=14) in group format, during which we conducted interviews about its applicability to fathers such as themselves.  Transcripts from the focus groups and interviews were included for analysis. Codebooks and matrixes to evaluate the relevancy of each theme among participants within a focus group and across focus groups or interviews were developed for each data collection method. We then compared themes across data collection methods and type of respondent. NVivo version 8 was used to conduct all data analysis.

To pilot test the engagement strategy, African American fathers over age 18 with at least one child between 4 and 12 whom he has contact with at least twice a month were recruited (n=30). Fathers were randomly assigned to the treatment (Triple P plus Engaging Fathers) and comparison (Triple P only) conditions. These data were used to develop our engagement strategy. Process data was collected to assess recruitment and retention in the intervention condition.


Fathers provided invaluable insights into barriers to participation including the stigma associated with attendance at parenting programs and their mistrust of such programs. Their insights informed the engagement strategy, which included adding some elements to Triple P. The core components of the intervention remained in-tact.  A motivation orientation session was included to help fathers identify goals for themselves, their children and their families and to help them recognize how Triple P can assist them in achieving these goals. In the pilot evaluation, we demonstrated that (1) Triple P can be delivered within a father focused agency, (2) we are able to recruit fathers into a parenting program (n = 30), and (3) we could achieve adequate retention rates (61%) over the course of the eight week intervention.  There did not appear to be differences between the treatment and control conditions.

Conclusions and Implications

Overall, African American fathers found Triple P to be acceptable when delivered within the context of a father focused agency. This suggests that more efforts should be made to provide parenting programs to fathers in settings which they currently access.