Title

Promoting Father Involvement in Early Home Visiting Services for Vulnerable Families: Findings from a Pilot Study of “Dads Matter.”

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2018

Organizational Units

Graduate School of Social Work

Abstract

Despite mounting evidence on the importance of fathers in children’s development, evidence-based perinatal home visitation programs have largely overlooked fathers in the design and delivery of services. This paper describes the design, development, and pilot testing of the “Dads Matter” enhancement to standard home visiting services. Dads Matter is a manualized intervention package designed to fully incorporate fathers into perinatal home visiting services. Twenty-four families were enrolled in a pilot study to assess the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary outcomes of the intervention. Using a quasi-experimental time-lagged design, 12 families received standard home visiting services and completed baseline and four-month post-tests. Home visitor staff were then trained and supervised to implement the Dads Matter enhancement in addition to standard services. Twelve additional families were then enrolled and completed baseline and four-month post-tests. Implementation data indicated that Dads Matter was implemented as planned. Cohen’s d scores on outcome measures indicate positive trends associated with Dads Matter in the quality of the mother-father relationship, perceived stress reported by both parents, fathers’ involvement with the child, maltreatment indicators, and fathers’ verbalizations toward the infant. Effect sizes generally ranged from moderate to large in magnitude and were larger than overall effect sizes of home visitation services alone reported in prior meta-analyses. Dads Matter appears to be a feasible, acceptable, and promising approach to improving fathers’ engagement in home visiting services and promoting family and child well-being.

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