Saturday, January 14, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Background and Purpose: Connect is an evidence-based, manualized, ten-week parent education and support training model to improve parent-child relationship quality and reduce teen behavior problems. It uses an attachment-based, trauma-informed approach that incorporates effective engagement strategies with experiential learning and skill development. This study examines how Connect was implemented virtually by a community-based organization with African American fathers. Father involvement has been known to contribute to positive academic, social, and emotional outcomes for teens. Methods: During winter 2021, the Connect Fatherhood Pilot evaluation used a mixed-method, non-experimental design to describe the implementation of Connect with a new population, African American fathers, and assess whether the model needs to be adapted to be more culturally relevant to African American fathers and their teens. A community-engaged approach was used to involve fathers of teens in the evaluation of the pilot. The evaluation involved semi-structured interviews with program leaders and Connect facilitators. Surveys were conducted with facilitators and focus groups were conducted with Connect participants. Structured observations of select recordings of Connect sessions were used to explore the cultural relevance of the program. We report findings using the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research. Results: The Connect program with six African American fathers included two peer facilitators. We found that initially the Connect model was well received by the community-based organization and staff, but the implementation of Connect was challenging because training, recruitment, and delivery of the content were more time-consuming than anticipated. Additionally, the Connect curriculum, specifically the language and role-playing scenarios had to be significantly modified to be relatable to African American fathers. Conclusions and Implications: The evaluation of Connect suggests that this intervention model may be an effective tool for parenting and addressing challenges with teen behaviors. However, many parenting programs tend to be designed for mothers, specifically white mothers. So, this required a significant modification in content delivery to achieve the expected experiential learning. This study provides several recommendations for improving program implementation in the African American fatherhood and family context based on evaluation findings, as well as suggestions for re-evaluating Connect after implementation barriers and cultural relevance issues are addressed to understand the program model’s impact on teens and their fathers.