Methods: A multisite clustered RCT testing the effectiveness of Dads Matter-HV was conducted across five large organizations. A total of 203 families receiving home visiting services in the Chicago area participated in this study. We present findings based on the baseline and 4-month mother and father self-report data. The Beliefs and Expectations about Fathers in Home Visitation (BEFHV) measure developed for this study is a 10 item, 2-factor scale (challenges and positives), asked of both fathers and mothers at baseline has good combined composite reliability (omega = .79). Fathers participation in home visiting services at the 4-month follow-up was based on fathers’ and mothers’ self-report. Descriptive, bivariate, and a linear regression model were used to describe both parents’ attitudes and expectations about fathers’ participation in services, the agreement between their attitudes and expectations, and the relationship between their attitudes and expectations and fathers’ participation in services.
Results: Mothers reported more potential challenges (M=5.3, SD=2.2) to fathers’ participation on average than fathers reported (M=4.4, SD=2.0) (e.g. too busy or too hard to participate) (t=4.6, p<.000). However, parents were similar in their attitudes or beliefs on the positive nature of fathers in home visitation (e.g. would enjoy it, important to be, want to be part of, etc.) (t=.02, p=.82). Parent age was positively correlated with challenges to father participation (Moms: r=.28, p<.000; Dads: r=.16, p<.05), with older parents reporting more challenges. No other demographic variables were associated with parents’ attitudes and expectations about fathers’ participation. Mothers’ and fathers’ reports of challenges to fathers’ home visiting participation (r=.23, p<.001) and positive attitudes toward potential participation were correlated (r=.31, p<.0001). Fathers’ (β=-.27, p<.001) and mother’s (β =-.30, p<.001) reports of challenges at baseline were both related to less father participation at 4-months. Positive attitudes or beliefs were associated with slightly higher reported father participation (fathers: β=.18, p<.05, mothers: β=.25, p<.01).
Conclusions and Implications: Both mothers and fathers similarly report the positives of including fathers in home visiting services, though it is the challenges that are more strongly related to participation. These findings suggest that mothers are not disinclined to include fathers, but rather both mothers and fathers see barriers that make his participation difficult.