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Parents and Children Together (PACT) Evaluation, 2011-2016

Project Overview

To learn about the implementation and effects of these programs, ACF awarded a contract in 2011 to Mathematica Policy Research to conduct the Parents and Children Together (PACT) evaluation. The evaluation has multiple components: separate impact and process studies for responsible fatherhood and healthy marriage programs and two sub-studies.

Study Rationale

Since 2006, Congress has provided funding for grants to provide healthy marriage and responsible fatherhood services to help interested couples and fathers enhance or improve adult and parent-child relationships and meet other objectives.

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF), within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), oversees these grants and provides supports to assist grantees to meet their goals and objectives.  ACF is also interested in learning about the challenges and successes of service implementation, the needs and experiences of participants, and the effectiveness of these services.

Impact/Process Studies

Six grantees are involved in rigorous impact and process studies. There are four responsible fatherhood grantees:

  • Connections to Success (Kansas City MO)
  • Fathers’ Support Center (St. Louis MO)
  • Goodwill/Easter Seals Minnesota (Minneapolis/St. Paul MN)
  • Urban Ventures (Minneapolis MN)

There are two healthy marriage grantees:

  • El Paso Center for Children (El Paso TX)
  • University Behavioral Associates (Bronx NY)

Individuals who are eligible for the programs and agree to be in the study are randomly assigned to either a program group or a control group. Program group members are offered program services; control group members are not offered those services but are able to receive other services available in the community. The impact studies will examine whether the programs improve outcomes for fathers, mothers, families, and children in the program group compared to outcomes of those in the control group.

Members of both program and control groups are surveyed twice: before they are randomly assigned and 12 months later. At the 12-month follow-up, both groups are asked to complete a telephone survey.  The survey covers a range of questions related to adult relationships and interactions, parent-child interactions and economic stability. Corresponding process studies examine multiple aspects of the  implementation and operation of the programs. Information for the process studies is obtained through interviews with program and partner organization managers and staff; observations of program operations; focus groups with program participants and non-participants; and data from each grantee’s management information system.


The two PACT sub-studies involve (1) a series of three annual in-depth, in-person interviews with selected fathers participating in the responsible fatherhood study programs; and (2) a study of the program strategies and adaptations used by selected responsible fatherhood programs serving Hispanic fathers.

To Find Out More

Contact the federal project officer at ACF:
Seth Chamberlain: (202)

Or contact the evaluation contractor, Mathematica Policy Research:
Robin Dion: (202) 484-5262,
Heather Zaveri: (202) 264-3441,

The point of contact is Seth Chamberlain.

  • In Their Own Voices: The Hopes and Struggles of Responsible Fatherhood Program Participants in the Parents and Children Together Evaluation

    Published: June 19, 2015

    Using information from in-depth interviews conducted as part of the Parents and Children Together Evaluation, this report describes themes and findings related to fathers’ perceptions of their roles as parents, partners, and providers. Findings specifically relate to fathers’ perceptions of their own childhoods, their personal challenges, employment and child support experiences, their relationships with their children and the mothers of their children, their views on fathering, and their participation in the...

  • Fatherhood: Ongoing Research and Program Evaluation Efforts

    Published: June 17, 2015

    Many programs within the Administration for Children and Families work with fathers to promote economic self-sufficiency and social well-being for them and their families. As a part of that work, we also implement rigorous research and evaluation projects designed to improve our understanding of how best to serve those fathers. This brief describes research and evaluation projects related to the Responsible Fatherhood grant program and noncustodial parents, and other research related...

  • Responsible Fatherhood Programming: Two Approaches to Service Delivery

    Published: April 21, 2015

    This brief provides a general overview of four Responsible Fatherhood (RF) grantees involved in the Parents and Children Together Evaluation (PACT) Evaluation. The brief: 1) provides a general overview of two approaches to service delivery in fatherhood programs; 2) documents how service delivery is linked to fathers’ characteristics; and 3) describes how service delivery approach may be linked to program participation and retention rates.  Data gathered via staff interviews, program...

  • Embedding Job and Career Advancement Services in Healthy Marriage Programs: Lessons from Two Programs in PACT

    Published: April 13, 2015

    This brief provides a general overview of the two Healthy Marriage (HM) grantees involved in the Parents and Children Together Evaluation (PACT), provides participation rates in services, and documents how the two grantees integrated job and career advancement services for parenting couples into their programs.  This brief uses data obtained through staff interviews and program observations during site visits; ongoing interactions with program leadership; and data from a management...

  • Parents and Children Together (PACT) Quarterly Update: February 2015

    Published: April 13, 2015

    Recent updates from the Parents and Children Together Evaluation.

  • PACT - October 2014 Update

    Published: October 30, 2014

    Recent updates from the Parents and Children Together Evaluation...

  • PACT - April 2014 Update

    Published: April 18, 2014

    Recent updates from the Parents and Children Together Evaluation...

  • PACT - January 2014 Update

    Published: January 15, 2014

    Recent updates from the Parents and Children Together Evaluation...

  • PACT – October 2013 Update

    Published: September 27, 2013

    Recent updates from the Parents and Children Together Evaluation...

More Reports on this Project