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Serving and Engaging Fathers in Home Visiting Programs

Dad holding babyWhat strategies do home visiting programs use to engage fathers, what challenges do they face, and what are the potential benefits of participating?

By Anna Solmeyer, Social Science Research Analyst, Office of Planning Research and Evaluation, and Amanda Clincy, Social Science Research Analyst, Business Strategies Consultants

Home visiting programs have traditionally targeted pregnant women and mothers of young children as primary clients. Fathers play an important role in their children’s lives, and some home visiting programs have begun implementing strategies to engage fathers.

A new report from our project on fathers in home visiting programs presents findings from interviews across 5 programs implementing strategies to engage fathers in these services. The goal of the study is to understand how home visiting programs engage fathers, what their experiences are in those programs, and the perceived benefits of their participation.

Across the five sites, 40 fathers participated in the study. Additionally, the study interviewed home visiting program administrators, staff members, and participating mothers. From the interviews, researchers learned about approaches used to engage fathers, father and program staff perspectives on the benefits of participating, the challenges programs face, and strategies used to overcome them.

According to program staff, examples of common and successful strategies to address the challenge of engaging fathers in home visiting services include:

  • Employing fatherhood coordinators
  • Keeping flexible hours
  • Tailoring services to fathers’ preferences
  • Meeting parents where they are
  • Having nonjudgmental persistence and consistency
  • Advocating for parents

Explore the report for more findings and lessons learned for home visiting programs that wish to extend their services to fathers.


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