Applying Cognitive-Behavioral Techniques to Employment Programming for Fathers: Findings from the B3 Study.” OPRE Report 2019-110.

Dec 2019 | Michelle S. Manno, Emily Brennan, and Eric Cohn

The Building Bridges and Bonds (B3) evaluation, a federally funded study of Responsible Fatherhood programs, is testing a set of three innovative approaches to helping fathers with low income improve their parenting and employment skills. One innovation, the Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Justice Involved Individuals Seeking Employment (CBI-Emp), was added to the existing fatherhood services at three community-based organizations. CBI-Emp incorporates interactive cognitivebehavioral techniques with traditional job-readiness services intended to help improve the employment outcomes and earnings of fathers who were recently involved with the justice system. The evaluation, which is using a random assignment design, will assess outcomes including fathers’ reduced involvement in the criminal justice system; increased financial and emotional support for their children; and improved coping, interpersonal, and problem-solving skills to determine whether CBI-Emp is effective. As part of a series of publications from the B3 evaluation, this brief presents the first systematic analysis of how CBI-Emp was implemented. The brief also describes how an initial sample of fathers who were enrolled in the study engaged in the CBI-Emp component at each of the three participating organizations and in each organization’s usual menu of services. The data show that the CBI-Emp component can be integrated into very different organizational structures without replacing existing services. However, programs also experienced challenges in implementing CBI-Emp for the B3 study, such as recruiting eligible fathers and engaging them in services. In this early sample, just over 30 percent of fathers who were randomly assigned to CBI-Emp services did not attend any CBI-Emp workshops, though these fathers often did not engage in other fatherhood program services either. This finding suggests that the barriers fathers face to participating in CBI-Emp mirror those of fatherhood program services generally.

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