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Objective: Investigation of whether the characteristics (i.e. gender especially) of fatherhood program facilitators influence dynamics in group sessions and program outcomes.
Background: Within the past decade, policy initiatives have spurred an increase in fatherhood programs. As a result, empirically examining the factors that support effective programming is essential. Previous research highlights program facilitator characteristics as one of these factors but facilitator gender is one characteristic that needs more attention.
Methods: This study used data from six focus groups conducted with 40 fathers and one-on-one interviews with five fatherhood program group facilitators in a western U.S. urban community.
Results: Our findings have revealed that fathers care deeply about learning how to be better fathers and that having female facilitators lead program sessions can promote qualitatively different skills in fathers relative to male facilitators. Results also lend support to program structures where male and female facilitators colead group sessions together.
Conclusions: The characteristics of the session facilitator can change both the dynamics of the conversations in the session and the nature of the skills that are produced among participating fathers.
Implications: Fatherhood program administrators may want to think critically not only about what content they want to deliver in their programs but also about the characteristics of the facilitator(s) delivering the content and how the latter can potentially influence program outcomes.