Responsible Fatherhood Local Evaluation Technical Assistance Project


The purpose of the Responsible Fatherhood Local Evaluation Technical Assistance project (RFLETA) is to support the Administration of Children and Families’ (ACF’s) fourth cohort (2020-2025) of Fatherhood Family-focused, Interconnected, Resilient, and Essential (Fatherhood FIRE) grant recipients. RFLETA will assist Fatherhood FIRE grant recipients in conducting evaluations of their own programs (“local evaluations”). This is a continuation of work originally performed under the Strengthening the Implementation of Responsible Fatherhood Programs (SIRF) project.

Some local evaluations describe how administrators and practitioners implement fatherhood programs and what outcomes result for their participants (called “descriptive evaluations”). Other local evaluations look at program impacts, or the effects of the program or its component parts on participant outcomes (“impact evaluations”). Lessons and findings from these local evaluations will provide information to the federal government, policymakers, researchers, and practitioners about how fatherhood programs can help fathers make changes in their lives and in the lives of their children.

Local evaluations like those supported by RFLETA can provide evidence across a large spectrum of grant recipients funded through Fatherhood FIRE and test a wide range of interventions. These evaluations can be a tremendous resource for understanding what is happening in fatherhood programs more broadly.

Agenda, Scope, and Goals

The immediate goal for the RFLETA project is to build evaluation capacity in this subset of federally funded fatherhood programs conducting local evaluations and respond to program-specific research questions through training and technical assistance (TA) activities. The RFLETA team’s approach involves three components to meet the varying needs of local evaluators and provide engaging, collaborative, and responsive TA:

  1. administering group training for the entire community of local evaluators;
  2. providing one-on-one assistance to grant recipients; and
  3. connecting local evaluators with one another as part of a collaborative community.

Design, Sites, and Data Sources

Among the Fatherhood FIRE grant recipients, 39 organizations in 23 states are conducting local evaluations. They are examining participant outcomes in several areas, including the health of fathers’ personal relationships; the quality of fathers’ parenting skills and involvement with their children; the economic stability of fathers and their families; fathers’ personal development and well-being; and, when applicable, fathers’ rates of recidivism. Some organizations with impact evaluations are using randomized controlled trials (RCTs). RCTs are a highly rigorous study design in which evaluators randomly assign one group of participants to receive a set of services and assign another group to receive something different. This will allow evaluators to examine the effects of specific services within fatherhood programs and assess whether those services caused any changes in target outcomes. Other impact evaluations will use quasi-experimental designs, which do not use random assignment but still allow evaluators to estimate whether a program service caused changes in outcomes among fathers. Organizations conducting descriptive evaluations will carefully document implementation of fatherhood programming and participant outcomes before and after program completion. All evaluators are using a mix of data sources, including father and staff interviews, focus groups, local evaluation surveys, and the federal performance measure data collection system called nFORM, which is used by all Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood grant recipients.

In addition to providing technical assistance (TA) to local evaluators, the RFLETA team will analyze the provision of this TA. Data sources for this analysis include a customer feedback survey, evaluation plan metrics, and records of the content, frequency, and type of TA provided. The TA team will prepare a final report summarizing the local evaluation reports and describing local evaluation activities and valuable lessons learned. In 2026, the TA team will collaborate with project funders to release these findings.