The impact of responsible fatherhood programs on parenting, psychological well-being, and financial outcomes: A randomized controlled trial

Jan 2022 | Patricia L Kohl, Melissa J Krauss, Courtney King, Shih-Ying Cheng, Patrick Fowler, Destini N Goodwin, Cheri D Tillis, Halbert Sullivan, Amy Sorg, Nancy B Mueller


The objective of this study was to examine differences in parenting, psychological well-being, and economic outcomes between fathers receiving two different programs offered by Fathers & Families Support Center for economically disadvantaged fathers: (a) Family Formation (FF), a 6-week/240-h program focused on economic stability/mobility, responsible fatherhood, and healthy relationships, with case management and legal services; (b) Economic Stability (ES), a 4-week/80-h program focused only on economic stability with limited case management and legal services. A randomized controlled trial (RCT) was used to compare fathers in FF (n = 350) vs. ES (n = 342). Surveys were administered at enrollment and 3- and 12-months postintervention. Linear and generalized linear mixed models were used to assess changes in program outcomes over time and across study groups. Four hundred and eighty-two fathers responded to either follow-up survey (251 FF, 231 ES). Nearly all (98%) were non-white (93% Black, 5% other/mixed race) and were on average 34 years old. Approximately 46% attended ≥75% of program sessions (FF 48% vs. ES 44%). Both FF and ES groups experienced improvements in parenting, psychological well-being, and financial outcomes after the programs, but changes in outcomes over time did not differ significantly by program. The lack of difference in outcomes between fathers in FF and ES groups could be due to a similar core focus on employment-related curriculum for both groups. Gaining financial stability could have contributed to positive improvements in other fatherhood domains. Implications for future research and practice are discussed herein.

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