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Early father involvement is important for young children’s development and learning. Most early childhood home visiting programs target mothers for enrollment, but engaging fathers in services can help families achieve desired program outcomes. For example, mothers may be more engaged in and stay enrolled in home visiting services longer when fathers participate in visits and display positive attitudes.
At least 79 percent of children in the United States under age 6 live with their fathers, and other children may have contact with their nonresidential fathers. Research shows that when fathers participate in home visiting, they learn new parenting skills, are more confident in their parenting, and have stronger relationships with their children and partners. Evidence suggests that home visiting programs should intentionally engage fathers, when possible, to optimize positive child and family outcomes
This brief summarizes the existing research to answer four questions:
What are the benefits of father involvement for children?
What outcomes are associated with father engagement in home visiting?
What common challenges do programs face engaging fathers in home visiting?
What strategies are home visiting programs using to overcome common obstacles?