Since 2006, Responsible Fatherhood programs across the country have received federal funding administered by the Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. These programs aim to:
- promote positive father-child interactions,
- improve parents’ relationship with each other and their capacity to parent as a team, and
- build fathers’ economic stability.
Since their inception, Responsible Fatherhood programs have conducted capacity- building activities, such as performance management, and have undergone local and federal evaluations aimed at building evidence. These activities and evaluations have uncovered a number of implementation challenges, including recruiting fathers, enrolling them in services, and keeping them actively engaged in services so they can realize their goals.
The Strengthening the Implementation of Responsible Fatherhood Programs (SIRF) project is studying ways to help programs overcome these hurdles using learning cycles, which use an iterative approach to identify implementation roadblocks, design and test solutions, interpret findings, and adapt practices and measurement.
Timeline, Scope, and Goals
Over the first year of SIRF, the research team identified common implementation challenges and potential solutions for Responsible Fatherhood programs through a literature review and input from content experts and program stakeholders. Based on this information gathering phase and early conversations with Responsible Fatherhood programs, the research team selected up to 10 Responsible Fatherhood programs to participate in learning cycle activities.
The iterative learning cycles will begin in early 2021 and utilize a “learn-do-reflect” process. During this phase, the researchers and practitioners will collaborate to identify a problem and consider potential solutions (learn), choose and implement solutions (do), and examine the results to decide on next steps (reflect).
The study findings will be disseminated on an ongoing basis throughout the course of the project.
Study Design, Sites, and Data Sources
The learning cycles will vary in their design, timeframe, and structure depending upon unique contextual factors associated with each site and the associated learning objectives. Through these activities, SIRF seeks to build evidence to help Responsible Fatherhood programs deliver more effective services and set the stage for potential future studies that could measure the effects of strengthened programs.
Data will be collected from nFORM (Information, Family Outcomes, Reporting, and Management), the management information system used by all Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood federal grantees, as well as from interviews with Responsible Fatherhood program staff and participants.
Funders and Partners
Funders: The project is sponsored by the Office of Family Assistance and administered by the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families.
Partners: MEF Associates, Insight Policy Research.
- Action for Children
- Center for Family Services
- Children’s Home & Aid
- City of Long Beach Visit disclaimer page
- Visit disclaimer page
- Montefiore Visit disclaimer page
- Passages Visit disclaimer page
Point(s) of contact: Katie Pahigiannis and Kriti Jain.
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 ACF’s Generic Clearance for Formative Data Collections for ACF Research (OMB #0970-0356). Related materials are available at the following pages on RegInfo.gov:
- Strengthening the Implementation of Responsible Fatherhood Programs (SIRF) Visit disclaimer page — early stakeholder engagement
- Strengthening the Implementation of Responsible Fatherhood Programs (SIRF) Visit disclaimer page — study site engagement
- Fatherhood Family-Focused, Interconnected, Resilient, and Essential (Fatherhood FIRE) Grantee Local Evaluation Plan Template Visit disclaimer page