Fathers participate in home visiting in ways that home visitors see, during a visit (observable), and in ways they cannot see before and after a visit (unobservable). Below is information on the different ways that fathers participate and how father participation affects family retention in home visiting programs. Home visiting programs provide an example of the effect father involvement can have on family participation in programs designed to serve all family members.
Starting in 2011, the Department of Family and Protective Services’ Prevention and Early Intervention Division (PEI) contracted with Dr. Cynthia Osborne and the Child and Family Research Partnership (CFRP), an independent, nonpartisan research center at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin, to evaluate the MIECHV-funded Texas Home Visiting (THV) programs. CFRP conducted 7 evaluations of THV programs, and is currently working on the 8th evaluation. Two evaluations primarily focused on fathers: the first explored how fathers participate in home visiting and the second examined the link between father participation and family retention in home visiting. More information on CFRP’s home visiting evaluations can be found here.
Advice from the Field
“Home Visits do not have to be done in a home. We have done them at the public Library, City Parks, Grocery Stores, and even in Hospitals. [We use] each place as a learning environment for children and parents. Children need to see both parents active in their lives.”
-Parents as Teachers, Smith County Staff Member
These slides provide an overview of CFRP’s findings from home visiting evaluations examining how fathers participate and what happens to family retention in home visiting programs when fathers participate. The information can help organizations understand how fathers participate in observable and unobservable ways, strategies to recruit and engage fathers, and how father participation effects the length of time families stay in the program.
This brief highlights the findings from CFRP’s Father Participation and Retention Evaluation (FPRE), which examines how family characteristics are associated with longer enrollment in home visiting programs. Findings indicate that when fathers are involved in home visiting programs, families stay enrolled an average of 7 months longer than families in which fathers are not involved.
This brief aims to fill the gap in the research on increasing father participation in home visiting by outlining the main barriers to father participation and presenting strategies for overcoming them. Findings from a survey of mothers enrolled in home visiting programs reveal that most mothers want their child’s father to be involved in home visiting, and that mothers believe flexible scheduling and active outreach to fathers could increase their participation.
Focus groups with fathers in four communities across Texas demonstrate that fathers want to be good role models for their children and value the services that home visiting programs provided. However, fathers tend to believe that services are geared toward mothers, revealing a need to make fathers feel more included by inviting fathers to participate and scheduling home visits during times that fathers can attend.