In 2020, MDRC and its partners conducted a literature review and held a series of conversations on the subject of engaging fathers in fatherhood programs that included practitioners, fathers, researchers, policymakers, and other stakeholders. This publication collects engagement approaches practitioners and other stakeholders have tried or are considering.
A Review of the Literature
When a parent is jailed or incarcerated, it has direct consequences for children and families. Family-strengthening programs seek to maintain healthy relationships between such parents and their children. They have the potential to reduce the harmful effects of incarceration on families. This brief describes six recommendations for family-strengthening programs.
A Roundup of Findings from the Building Bridges and Bonds Study
The Building Bridges and Bonds (B3) study tested innovative, interactive, skill-building approaches to address parenting and economic stability in the context of existing fatherhood programs. This brief highlights findings from the three tests and summarizes lessons from the B3 study experience common to all the tested interventions.
Findings from the B3 Study
This brief describes an early analysis of Just Beginning (JB), a five-session, one-on-one program that uses videos and father-child play activities to build parenting skills. While JB was implemented successfully, only 55 percent of fathers completed at least one JB session, though those fathers typically completed most of the curriculum.
Findings from the B3 Study
This brief presents an early analysis of a program incorporating interactive cognitive-behavioral techniques with job-readiness services for fathers recently involved in the justice system. Implementation succeeded, but about 30 percent of fathers did not engage in the program or in existing fatherhood services, suggesting similar participation challenges in both.
Developing a Smartphone Application with Fathers, for Fathers
Fathers in Responsible Fatherhood programs can face numerous barriers to remaining involved with their children. This brief describes how MDRC collaborated with fathers to develop DadTime, one of the first smartphone applications designed specifically to help fathers improve their engagement with and attendance at parenting programs.
The Building Bridges and Bonds (B3) Study
This practitioner brief describes three new approaches in the B3 evaluation of enhancements to Responsible Fatherhood programs: a cognitive behavioral workshop that builds skills for employment stability; Just Beginning, an interactive approach to high-quality parenting; and DadTime, a mobile app to encourage active participation by fathers with their children.