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 has multiple components: separate impact and process studies for responsible fatherhood and healthy marriage programs and four 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.


The four 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

The point of contact is Samantha Illangasekare

You may also contact the evaluation contractor, Mathematica Policy Research:
Sarah Avellar: (202) 484-3288,
Heather Zaveri: (202) 264-3441,