Fathers who agreed to take part in a training program to improve parenting skills, reducing the potential for child abuse and neglect, completed the program at a rate similar to mothers, according to work published by a team of researchers at Georgia State University School of Public Health.
The researchers noted that mothers have been the traditional target of such programs, and little is known about the interest of fathers in parenting training or the potential impact on reducing rates of child maltreatment.
The researchers’ findings are published in the article “Initial Findings from a Feasibility Trial Examining the SafeCare Dad to Kids Program with Marginalized Fathers” in the Journal of Family Violence. The lead author was Dr. Shannon Self-Brown, associate director for research and development of the National SafeCare Training and Research Center (NSTRC) in the School of Public Health.
The study enrolled 99 fathers and involved providing them with either home visits or parenting information by mail.
The researchers noted that “little is understood about how to recruit or engage fathers into child maltreatment prevention programming.” Indeed, only 33 percent of fathers referred for the study agreed to participate.
Of those who did sign up, about 49 percent completed the study, similar to rates for mothers. The fathers also reported high degrees of satisfaction with the information they received, as well as decreases in “psychologically aggressive behaviors” toward their children.
The researchers urged additional study into engaging fathers in positive parenting programs.
The article’s other authors are Ms. Melissa Osborne, Dr. Betty Lai, Ms. Natasha DeVeauuse Brown, Ms. Theresa Glasheen, all of the School of Public Health at Georgia State, and Dr. Melissa C. Adams of the Emory University School of Medicine. Funding for the project was from a P-20 grant awarded by the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities.
The NSTRC is housed at the Mark Chaffin Center for Healthy Development at the School of Public Health at Georgia State. SafeCare is an evidence-based home visitation program that has been proven to reduce child abuse and neglect in families at risk of maltreatment.