Parents and Children Together: Effects of Four Responsible Fatherhood Programs for Low-Income Fathers

OPRE Report 2018-50
Publisher: Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Jun 12, 2018
Authors
Sarah Avellar, Reginald Covington, Quinn Moore, Ankita Patnaik, and April Wu

Key impact findings of the project include the following:

  • The Responsible Fatherhood (RF) programs in Parents and Children Together (PACT) improved fathers’ parenting, specifically their self-reported nurturing behavior and engagement in age-appropriate activities with children. Nurturing behaviors included showing patience when the child was upset or encouraging the child to talk about his or her feelings. Depending on the age of the child, age-appropriate activities included reading books or telling stories to the child, feeding the child or having a meal together, playing with the child, or working on homework together. However, the programs did not affect the amount of in-person contact fathers had with their children or the financial support they gave them.
  • The RF programs in PACT did not affect co-parenting. The fathers in the program and control groups had very similar average scores on the following scales: being a good co-parenting team, co-parenting alliance, using constructive conflict behaviors, and avoiding destructive conflict behaviors.
  • Earnings were similar for the program and control groups, but the RF programs increased the length of time fathers were continuously employed.
  • The RF programs in PACT did not affect measures of social-emotional and mental well-being, such as depressive symptoms and belief in whether they could control their life circumstances rather than being controlled by external factors.

RF grants are designed to help fathers overcome obstacles and barriers to effective and nurturing parenting, support their family formation and healthy relationships, and improve economic outcomes for themselves and their families. To learn more about the effectiveness of these programs, the Office of Family Assistance in the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services funded, and ACF’s Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation oversaw, a contract with Mathematica Policy Research to conduct the PACT evaluation. The PACT RF impact study was a large-scale, random assignment examination of four federally funded RF programs that received grants in 2011. This report discusses the impacts of those programs on fathers’ parenting, relationships, economic stability, and well-being about one year after the fathers enrolled.