Abstract: Financial Management Skills, Co-Parenting, and Father Involvement Among Non-Resident Jailed Fathers (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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Financial Management Skills, Co-Parenting, and Father Involvement Among Non-Resident Jailed Fathers

Wednesday, January 20, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Mark Trahan, PhD, Assistant Professor, Texas State University
Otima Doyle, PhD
Jennifer Bellamy, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Denver, Denver, CO
Carrie Pettus-Davis, PhD, Associate Professor, Florida State University, FL
Background and Purpose: Fathers in jail are often overlooked in research due to challenges regarding the short length of jail stays and difficulty with tracking post release. Fathers’ financial provision has previously been identified as important to children but may be particularly challenging for low-income fathers who have been jailed. Moreover, fathers’ financial stability may impact co-parenting relationships, increasing the potential that being jailed impacts father involvement. The purpose of this study was to investigate how financial management skills along with co-parenting may influence father involvement among non-resident fathers in jail within a context of other risk factors, such as substance abuse, low income, history of incarceration, and family formation education.

Methods: This study is a secondary data analysis of a post-release transitional program for jailed fathers. The program was delivered by a nonprofit organization in an urban Midwestern city. Data used in this study came from the baseline survey of 97 non-resident fathers in jail. Eligible participants were fathers aged 18 to 25, incarcerated in one of the two metropolitan city jails from May 2015 to August 2016, with an anticipated release date to the metro area where the study took place. Father involvement was assessed with a 10-item baseline measure, including items of trust, affection, discipline, and activity along with an additional child age specific measure. Co-parenting was assessed using a seven-item scale measuring undermining, financial support, and communication with the mother of the child. After assumptions were assessed and met, Hierarchical Linear Regression (HLR) and a mediation PROCESS model analysis was conducted to analyze the relationships between financial management skills and co-parenting on father involvement.

Results: Ninety-two non-resident jailed fathers (N = 92) were included in the analysis. HLR regression analysis indicates that previous history of incarceration (ß = -.464, p = .018), income (ß = .436, p = .015), and financial management (ß = .352, p = .012) associated with father engagement (F(6, 80) = 7.85, p = .000, R2 = .371). Co-parenting was not associated with father engagement in the final model. A PROCESS mediation analysis indicates that the relationship between income and father engagement was partially mediated by financial management, suggesting the importance of financial management skills in promoting father involvement for jailed fathers.

Conclusions and Implications: Financial management skills appear to associate with father involvement among non-resident fathers who have been jailed. Previous incarceration experiences may be an additional relevant factor, as fathers who have been jailed multiple times may be less likely to be involved with their child(ren).There is initial evidence that implications of this study include the importance of financial management skills for promoting father involvement in jailed father populations. As re-entry services for jailed populations may be less formalized and robust than state or federal incarceration, there is a potential gap in service related to these fathers that may be filled by local fatherhood and family service providers.