|For nearly two decades, there has been a powerful movement for fathers to become more involved in their children’s lives, resulting in an increased number of fatherhood programs. These programs focus on various outcomes and can reduce the risk of child maltreatment. Four outcomes are measured in this study: interpersonal competence, parental involvement, child academic adjustment, and financial responsibility. While the evaluation of fatherhood programs is expanding, published documentation remains greatly limited. Very few have considered demographic factors that may influence program outcomes. Additionally, the current study is a novel test of class composition and its effects on program outcomes. This study explored fatherhood program participants’ baseline differences and tested whether immediate post-program changes in target outcomes differ based on the gender, race, and class composition of fatherhood program participants. The sample consisted of 723 participants, both male and female, from across the state of Alabama. Findings indicate enhanced benefits for participants in four groups immediately following program participation compared to baseline results in all targeted outcomes.
The current study reflects some key takeaway findings. Results indicate there were no statistically significant baseline differences in gender. However, when examining baseline differences for race, Black participants reported higher levels of parental involvement and financial responsibility on average than White participants. All fatherhood program participants, regardless of gender and race, experienced statistically significant change in the desired direction immediately following program participation. Additionally, results do not indicate class composition influences participant outcomes. Male participants in a “males only” class changed similarly to males in a “mixed class” comprised of males and females. Results support the notion that female participants in the class do not have a negative impact on male participants in the same class.
The current study supports previous findings that fatherhood programs positively influence both male and female participants’ individual and relational skills and knowledge. The current study also advances the literature by discovering some variations at program start in specific fatherhood program outcomes based on demographic factors. These findings serve to inform practitioners to consider characteristics that may enhance or impede program effectiveness.