Promoting Fathers' Engagement With Children: Preventive Interventions for Low-Income Families

Authors


  • *

    Smith College & School for Social Work, 310 Lilly Hall, Northampton, MA 01063.

  • **

    School of Medicine, Yale University, 40 Trumbull Road, Northampton, MA 01060.

  • ***

    Department of Psychology, 3210 Tolman Hall-1650, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-1650.

  • This article was edited by Ralph LaRossa.

Department of Psychology, 3210 Tolman Hall-1650, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-1650 (pcowan@berkeley.edu).

Abstract

Few programs to enhance fathers' engagement with children have been systematically evaluated, especially for low-income minority populations. In this study, 289 couples from primarily low-income Mexican American and European American families were randomly assigned to one of three conditions and followed for 18 months: 16-week groups for fathers, 16-week groups for couples, or a 1-time informational meeting. Compared with families in the low-dose comparison condition, intervention families showed positive effects on fathers' engagement with their children, couple relationship quality, and children's problem behaviors. Participants in couples' groups showed more consistent, longer term positive effects than those in fathers-only groups. Intervention effects were similar across family structures, income levels, and ethnicities. Implications of the results for current family policy debates are discussed.

Ancillary