Parents and Children Together (PACT) Evaluation, 2011-2020

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

Study Rationale

Since 2006, Congress has provided funding for grants to provide Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood (HMRF) 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 were involved in rigorous impact and process studies. There were 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 were two healthy marriage grantees:

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

Individuals who were eligible for the programs and agreed to be in the study were randomly assigned to either a program group or a control group. Program group members were offered program services; control group members were not offered those services but were able to receive other services available in the community. The impact studies examined whether the programs improved 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 were surveyed twice: before they were randomly assigned and 12 months later. At the 12-month follow-up, both groups were asked to complete a telephone survey. The survey covered a range of questions related to adult relationships and interactions, parent-child interactions and economic stability. Corresponding process studies examined multiple aspects of the implementation and operation of the programs. Information for the process studies was 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.

Sub-studies

The five PACT sub-studies involved (1) a series of three annual in-depth, in-person interviews with selected fathers participating in the responsible fatherhood study programs; (2) a study of the program strategies and adaptations used by selected responsible fatherhood programs serving Hispanic fathers; (3) a study of trauma-informed approaches for serving justice-involved fathers and how responsible fatherhood grantees could implement a trauma-informed approach in their programming; (4) an assessment of participants’ pathways to achieving outcomes; and (5) a study exploring how parents perceive and provide financial support for their children.

To Find Out More

Point(s) of contact: Samantha Illangasekare and Kathleen McCoy.

You may also contact the evaluation contractor, Mathematica Policy Research:
Heather Zaveri: (202) 264-3441,
hzaveri@mathematica-mpr.com

This study is registered at ClinicalTrials.gov under the title: An Evaluation of Selected Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Marriage Programs: Parents and Children Together (PACT) Visit disclaimer page

Information collections related to this project have been reviewed and approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs under OMB # 0970-0403 (expired 12/19/2016). Related materials are available at the PACT Information Collection page on RegInfo.gov Visit disclaimer page .

Data are archived at the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR):

Related Resources

These snapshots are intended for practitioners and researchers involved in designing, improving, or evaluating RF programs. They present four RF Pathways-to-Outcomes models that visually represent hypothesized links between program activities and intended outcomes. Each model reflects one of four outcome domains targeted by RF programs and measured in the PACT evaluation...

These snapshots are intended for practitioners and researchers involved in designing, improving, or evaluating HMRE programs. They present three HMRE Pathways-to-Outcomes models that visually represent hypothesized links between program activities and intended outcomes. Each model reflects an aspect of program design and implementation...

The webinar presents four “Pathways-to-Outcomes” models for Responsible Fatherhood (RF) programs, each focusing on one outcome domain measured in the Parents and Children Together (PACT) evaluation: (1) healthy relationships between co-parents, (2) father development and well-being, (3) consistent employment; and (4) parenting skills and father involvement.

The webinar presents three Pathways-to-Outcomes models for HMRE programs serving adult couples that use research evidence to depict how program activities may influence intended outcomes. Each model reflects an aspect of program design and implementation: (1) curriculum and delivery, (2) maximizing participation, and (3) addressing couple and individual characteristics.

This brief describes how low-income fathers participating in Responsible Fatherhood (RF) programs perceive and provide financial support for their children. It combines quantitative and qualitative information collected on fathers as part of the Parents and Children Together (PACT) evaluation, a multi-component evaluation of RF programs for low-income fathers funded by grants awarded by Administration for Children and Families (ACF) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Financial support from fathers can lead to important improvements in child well-being. Financial support from noncustodial fathers, often provided through formal child support payments, can make up a substantial part of the income of single-parent families and lead to reductions in child poverty (ACF 2016; Sorensen 2010; Meyer et al. 2008; Takayesu 2011). Child well-being can be improved when child support programs enable and enforce fathers’ financial support for children...

Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education (HMRE) programs for low-income participants are funded by the Office of Family Assistance (OFA) within the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). Trained facilitators deliver curricula, typically in weekly interactive classes, using lectures and in-class practice with partners or small groups. According to the current literature, HMRE programs may improve participants’...

The report presents four “Pathways-to-Outcomes” models for Responsible Fatherhood (RF) programs, each focusing on one outcome domain measured in the Parents and Children Together (PACT) evaluation: (1) healthy relationships between co-parents, (2) father development and well-being, (3) consistent employment; and (4) parenting skills and father involvement.

ACF directed Mathematica to create this set of RF Pathways-to-Outcomes models to depict how RF program activities may contribute to...

The Parents and Children Together (PACT) evaluation included a large-scale, random assignment examination of two federally funded Healthy Marriage (HM) programs serving low-income couples that received grants in 2011. As part of the PACT HM impact study, the study team randomly assigned 1,595 eligible couples, dividing them between either (1) a program group, which was offered HM services, or (2) a control group, which was not offered these services.

The Parents and Children Together (PACT) evaluation included a large-scale, random assignment examination of four federally funded Responsible Fatherhood (RF) programs serving low-income fathers that received grants in 2011. As part of the PACT RF impact study, the study team randomly assigned 5,522 fathers who applied for one of the four PACT RF programs to either (1) a program group, which was offered RF services, or (2) a control group, which was not offered these services.