Fathering Indicators Framework
Background on the Fathering Indicators Framework
Over the past ten years, there has been unprecedented attention to issues related to fathering and family support, particularly in relationship to children’s well-being. One of the emerging challenges for the field of fatherhood and family studies—perhaps its greatest challenge—is to determine whether the new policies and concepts regarding responsible fathering either are making a difference or have the potential to do so. The questions are fundamental ones:
Recognizing a need for a measurement construct that could be used with diverse populations and draw upon mixed methods of analysis, The Annie E. Casey Foundation and the National Center on Fathers and Families (NCOFF) convened a group of researchers, practitioners, and policymakers to initiate a conversation about the measurement and evaluation of positive fathering. The group, which came to be called the NCOFF Working Group on Fathering Indicators, met for the purposes of identifying and developing a set of themes and indicators that could be used to evaluate father-focused programs, efforts, and activities, as well as to guide research—both inquiries of small field studies and analyses of large, national datasets—on fathering behaviors and practices.
In order to validate, extend, and refine the FIF, we conducted a series of focus groups with field practitioners in the Northeast, Midwest, Southeast, and West whose programs address the needs of a wide range of fathers and families, including early childcare and education programs, early/teen fatherhood support services, divorce support services, abusive household support services, services to incarcerated fathers, and parenting services.
The FIFís final set of categories and indicators that emerged from the groupís review of the literature and testing with practitioners in focus groups of practitioners will help the fathers and families field to:
Use of the FIF by Practitioners, Researchers, and Policymakers
The FIF is intended to provide a useful schematic summary of data sources, methods, and variables. It provides information about the effects of a program on a father; the effects of a father’s participation or change of behavior on a child or family; and the ways in which these effects—on fathers, children, and families—are threaded together to enable men to become positively involved with their children, the mothers of their children, and families in general. It is designed specifically to be a tool that can be used by or adapted for different audiences:
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