The Society for Social Work and Research

2014 Annual Conference

January 15-19, 2014 I Grand Hyatt San Antonio I San Antonio, TX

Father Engagement: Enhancing Methodological and Practice Strategies

Friday, January 17, 2014: 2:30 PM-4:15 PM
HBG Convention Center, Room 008B River Level (San Antonio, TX)
Cluster: Gender
Symposium Organizer:
Pajarita Charles, PhD, University of Chicago
Aaron Banman, MSW, University of Chicago
Father involvement in children’s lives is an increasingly important issue in social welfare practice and research because of a growing evidence base clearly demonstrating that high quality fathering has a substantial and positive impact on children’s developmental outcomes (Lamb, 2010). Despite this knowledge, far less is known about how father involvement should be accurately measured and the factors that relate to father engagement in various service settings. This symposium aims to present research organized around these two critical areas in need of further development, namely the enhancement of methodological and practice strategies to increase father engagement. This “research to practice” organizing framework is exemplary of the breadth of work presently being conducted in the fathering and parenting fields.

The four papers included in this symposium focus on issues pertinent to researchers and practitioners conducting basic, prevention, and intervention research. The first paper extends knowledge on the measurement of father involvement by examining differences in mother-father reports of fathering behavior and the factors that predict disagreement between mother’s and father’s reports of father involvement. The second paper presents findings from an assessment of multiple instruments used to measure fathering behavior from both mother and father reports. The third paper provides insight into a relatively unexplored area of research pertaining to fathers’ participation in medical services particularly around the time of birth of a child. The fourth paper presents findings from a study aimed at expanding and enhancing an existing evidence-based program model to engage fathers and increase father involvement in the context of home visitation.

Findings from the first two papers suggest that measurement development work to shore up our understanding of why direct measures of father involvement from fathers themselves, as opposed to relying on mothers’ reports, may be necessary and an area warranted of future exploration. The third and fourth papers taken together go beyond measurement work into intervention development and adaption efforts to promote father involvement in the context of health and social service settings. The strengths of these papers when combined include the use of both quantitative and qualitative approaches to address the research questions, the presentation of findings from studies that collected data firsthand from fathers, and the bridging of research that spans measurement development and related practice strategies.

Jointly these papers improve knowledge regarding the methodological and practice challenges faced by researchers and practitioners seeking to engage fathers and improve child and family outcomes. The papers comprise findings that can be used to guide future research on the relationship between fathers, their role as parents and partners, and the service settings in which they should be engaged.

* noted as presenting author
Disagreement in Mother-Father Reports of Father Involvement in Low-Income Minority Families
Pajarita Charles, PhD, University of Chicago; Deborah Gorman-Smith, PhD, University of Chicago; Michael Schoeny, PhD, University of Chicago; David Henry, PhD, University of Illinois at Chicago
Testing Gender Applicability: Measuring Fathering Behaviors With Both Male and Female Respondents
Mark Trahan, LCSW, University of Houston; Monit Cheung, PhD, University of Houston
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