Predictors of Father Involvement in a Sample of Low-Income Men Enrolled in a Responsible Fatherhood Program

Predictors of Father Involvement in a Sample of Low-Income Men Enrolled in a Responsible... Abstract Fathers play an important role in the lives of their children and are an underserved and understudied population. This study explored predictors of father involvement in a sample of low-income fathers enrolled in a responsible fatherhood program in one large county in the northeastern United States. Although many demographic, psychological, and social factors have been found to be associated with father involvement in other research, in our study only living situation, marital status, substance abuse, and self-esteem were significant predictors of involvement. The findings of this study underscore the need for more comprehensive fatherhood programming that includes mental health, substance use, and relationship counseling in addition to the traditional fatherhood program curriculum. Suggestions for future research include the study of father involvement among fathers of children in multiple households, as well as among fathers who are not physically present (for example, incarcerated or serving in the armed forces), and specifically in the context of substance abuse services. Fathers and father figures can serve a protective function in the lives of at-risk children. Father involvement has been associated with decreased child behavioral problems throughout childhood and adolescence (Amato & Rivera, 1999), increased social competence and cognitive functioning (Dubowitz et al., 2001), and decreased risk for psychological (Carlson, 2006) and social problems (Goncy & van Dulmen, 2010). Research on the causes and correlates of father involvement have identified factors that are associated with father involvement, and this work has resulted in the development of interventions and informed new research on father involvement. Over the past two decades, researchers have distinguished several factors that are associated with paternal involvement that may lead to positive outcomes for children (see, for example, Allen & Hawkins, 1999; Cochran, 1997; Lamb, 2010). An early conceptualization of parenting processes, including fathering, was developed by Belsky (1984) and includes three broad areas that influence parenting, namely, father characteristics and psychological resources, stress and support, and child characteristics. Lamb (2010) further identified five interdependent determinants associated with paternal involvement: (1) characteristics of the father (demographic, personal, and psychological factors), (2) social support, (3) community and cultural influencers (socioeconomic opportunity), (4) individual child characteristics, and (5) institutional practices and public policies. The overlap between Belsky (1984) and Lamb (2010) form the basis of our exploration of father involvement in this study. Drawing from Lamb’s five areas of determinants, we focus on personal (demographic and psychological), social support, and personal economic factors. Both Belsky and Lamb identified personal factors but did not specifically address common mental health disorders (that is, depression, substance abuse) that are commonly encountered among low-income fathers in community and clinical settings. The current study explores predictors of father involvement in a sample of low-income men participating in a responsible fatherhood and healthy marriage program. Exploring father involvement in this population contributes to the existing literature in three important ways: (1) We examine father involvement among men who are participating in one of the growing numbers of fatherhood programs across the nation; (2) our sample is exclusively low-income men who present with a myriad of economic and psychosocial needs; and (3) we explore psychological factors that have not received in-depth attention in the literature. Literature Review The literature on father involvement has largely focused on identifying the complexities of defining, measuring, and predicting father involvement. For this study, literature was reviewed that specifically explored father involvement as an outcome variable. Factors associated with father involvement were identified within three broad categories corresponding to three of Lamb’s (2010) determinants, including (1) fathers’ characteristics such as demographic factors (that is, age, race, marital status) and psychological factors (including mental health, substance abuse, self-esteem), (2) social support, and (3) economic factors. Additional factors associated with father involvement following Lamb’s model include characteristics of the child (for example, age, gender, and behavior) (see, for example, Amato & Rivera, 1999; Flouri, 2005; Gadeyne, Ghesquiere, & Onghena, 2004) and institutional practices that may discourage father involvement; these are beyond the scope of the present study. Demographic Factors Although a number of studies have concluded that age of the father has little influence on paternal involvement (Ahmeduzzaman & Roopnarine, 1992; Landale & Oropesa, 2001; Sanderson & Thompson, 2002), some research suggests that younger fathers are more involved in certain activities. For example, Baker (2014) found that younger fathers were more likely to engage in play with their children than older fathers. Furthermore, Hofferth (2003) found that older fathers are less likely to spend time with their children compared with younger fathers. Conversely, Volling and Belsky (1991) suggested that older fathers may be more responsive and affectionate with their infant children. There is some evidence to suggest that paternal involvement differs by race and ethnicity. African American and Hispanic fathers have been found to take greater responsibility and be more involved in the caretaking of their children as compared with white fathers (Cabrera, Ryan, Mitchell, Shannon, & Tamis-LeMonda, 2008; Hofferth, 2003; Sanderson & Thompson, 2002); possibly due to differences in re-partnering patterns (Cabrera et al., 2008). A study of American Indian fathers by Padilla, Ward, and Limb (2013) found that parental relationship quality had a larger impact on the level of father engagement than coresidence when compared with fathers from other ethnic groups. Psychological Factors Psychological factors may also play an important role in a father’s involvement with his child; these can include motivation, skills, and self-confidence (Lamb, 2010) as well as psychological well-being and mental health. Although no research was located that specifically explored father involvement and severe mental health conditions, some work has explored the impact of more common mental health issues such as depression, general psychological well-being, and substance abuse. Baker (2014) found that African American fathers who experienced fewer depressive symptoms and stressors engaged in more frequent play with their young children. Similarly, Coates and Phares (2014) found that black fathers with better psychological well-being had higher levels of paternal involvement. In a Head Start sample, depressive symptoms were inversely related to father involvement with preschool-age children (Roggman, Boyce, Cook, & Cook, 2002). A meta-analysis conducted by Wilson and Durbin (2010) across 28 published and unpublished studies found small effect sizes for the relationship between paternal depression and lower levels of positive parenting and higher levels of negative parenting. Although they did not explore father involvement explicitly, the relationship between depression and more negative parenting styles may be relevant for exploring dimensions of father involvement. Active substance use has been associated with decreased father involvement (McMahon, Winkel, & Rounsaville, 2008; Waller & Swisher, 2006). McMahon et al. (2008) contrasted opioid-addicted fathers with their non-drug-addicted counterparts across several dimensions and found that addicted fathers possessed less self-worth, had poorer relationships with the biological mothers of their children, and rated their paternal performance lower than non-drug-abusing fathers. Comparisons of paternal involvement among men with no history of substance abuse and those with substance abuse problems are underrepresented in the literature (McMahon et al., 2008). However, researchers have identified negative traits associated with fathers who abuse substances. Fathers who abuse alcohol have been shown to exhibit less positive emotions during interaction with their infant children and possessed weaker attachments (Eiden, Edwards, & Leonard, 2002; El-Sheikh & Buckhalt, 2003), and they may be more likely to experience higher levels of parenting stress, poorer communication with their children, and poorer parent–child relationships (Blackson et al., 1999; McMahon, Winkel, Suchman, & Rounsaville, 2007). Several studies explored the areas of self-efficacy and self-esteem in relation to father involvement. In an international sample, Kwok, Ling, Leung, and Li (2013) found that parenting self-efficacy was related to father involvement. Parental self-esteem may also be related to more engaged play with infants; however, this relationship may also be related to other factors including child characteristics and parenting attitudes (Volling & Belsky, 1991). Social Support Social support for fathers includes their relationships with partners, children’s mothers, and other extended family members (Lamb & Lewis, 2010) as well as community resources and other cultural influences outside the narrow scope of personal relationships (Coates & Phares, 2014). Coates and Phares (2014) found that social support, including community resources, moderated the relationship between psychological well-being and paternal involvement. Social support from children’s mothers may be particularly important as a mother often acts as a gatekeeper between a father and child, dictating accessibility and availability parameters (Lamb & Lewis, 2010); for low-income fathers with limited resources, this may be particularly important. Recent research confirms that a father’s accessibility to his child is mediated by his relationship with the mother (Coley & Hernandez, 2006; Cowan, Cowan, Pruett, Pruett, & Gillette, 2014; Padilla et al., 2013; Rienks, Wadsworth, Markman, Einhorn, & Etter, 2011). Moreover, Coley and Hernandez (2006) found that among low-income residential and nonresidential fathers, emotional conflict between parents affected paternal accessibility. Stressful conditions can be both psychological and related to social support and include stress related to parenting, economic stressors, and general life stressors. Fagan, Bernd, and Whiteman (2007) also identified an inverse relationship between stress and paternal engagement. Socioeconomic Opportunity Financial resources and socioeconomic opportunity have been shown to affect paternal involvement and successful fathering. Tamis-LeMonda and McFadden (2010) categorized these aspects within the larger context of community and cultural influences. However, the proliferation of recent research on socioeconomic status and financial security as it relates to father involvement seems to necessitate the addition of a sixth determinant in Lamb’s original approach. A study by Wood and Repetti (2004) found that fathers were more likely to participate in child-rearing activities after reductions in paid, full-time work—thus, an economic downturn may actually contribute to increased father involvement. In this context, a father’s participation in child rearing was characterized as a “resource that is activated in times of need” (Wood & Repetti, 2004, p. 246). That is, income and employment may have different effects on father involvement depending on the circumstances of the family system, employment patterns, and spousal employment. Present Study The current study explores father involvement among a sample of low-income men who self-selected to enroll in a responsible fatherhood and healthy relationship program. The purpose of the study was to determine whether factors previously identified in the literature as predictors of father involvement were relevant in this population. Previous studies have explored these predictors in a variety of populations including married, nonresident, and middle-income populations; this study contributes to the literature by exploring factors related to father involvement in a sample of low-income men seeking services specifically around fathering. We used a theoretical foundation that combines the overlapping constructs of Belsky (1984) and Lamb (2010), with previously identified psychological factors to explore what personal (demographic), psychological (that is, depressive symptoms, substance abuse, and self-esteem), social (social support and stressful conditions), and economic (employment and income) factors predicted self-reported father involvement in a sample of low-income men seeking father-related services. Method Data Sources and Sample Men who enrolled in a responsible fatherhood program were assessed at program enrollment across a number of domains. The intervention aims to increase responsible fatherhood; improve relationship skills; encourage healthy relationships; and increase economic stability of families through job training, counseling, referral, and placement. Inclusion criteria for the program included fatherhood status of a child under 18, geographic location (within county), low income, and unstable or lack of employment. The program is voluntary, and all participants attended the program either at one of two program sites or within an off-site program (such as a sober house, transitional housing facility, or local jail). Demographic data were available on the entire sample of fathers (N = 806), but 15% of program participants (n = 123) chose not to participate in the full assessment protocol. Thus, the final sample for this study was 683. Preliminary analyses were conducted comparing the noncompleter group with those who completed the entire assessment. No significant differences were found between groups on race, age, marital status, income, or employment status. Table 1 presents descriptive statistics on age, race, education and employment, and living situation (with children, alone or with partner; living alone or with friends or family; or living in an institutional setting such as a local jail, group home, rehabilitation facility, halfway house, or homeless shelter). The average age of participants was 36 years (range: 18 to 75). Most men in the program were single (29%), in a committed nonmarried relationship (28%), or married (25%). Most participants (84%) had a high school diploma or GED (56%) or less (29%); 67% reported being unemployed at the time of program entry, and 83% were at or below the poverty line for a single person. Eighty-nine percent of participants were biological fathers. The racial makeup of the sample was 46% white, 41% African American or black, and 5% Native American; 19% of participants identified as Hispanic or Latino. It should be noted that the county the program serves is over 80% white and is extremely racially and economically segregated; thus the sample is representative of the lower-income residents of this county even if it does not reflect overall population demographics. The county is also home to two recognized Native American tribes. Table 1: Demographic Characteristics of Sample (N = 683) Characteristic  n (%)  M (Range)  Race and ethnicity   African American  282 (41)     White  327 (46)     Native American  34 (5)     Other/declined to answer  42 (8)     Hispanic  132 (19)    Education level   No degree or diploma  197 (29)     High school diploma/GED  381 (56)     Vocational/technical  certification  48 (7)     Associate’s degree  29 (4)     Bachelor’s degree  25 (4)     Master’s/advanced degree  6 (1)     Not reported (missing)  2 (<1)    Employment status   Employed full time  75 (11)     Employed part time  62 (9)     Retired  9 (1)     Student  9 (1)     Disabled  80 (12)     Unemployed  457 (67)    Poverty level (individual)   At or above federal poverty level  98 (15)     Below the poverty level  571 (85)    Age (years)    36.30 (18–75)  Number of children under 18    2.13 (0a–13)  Characteristic  n (%)  M (Range)  Race and ethnicity   African American  282 (41)     White  327 (46)     Native American  34 (5)     Other/declined to answer  42 (8)     Hispanic  132 (19)    Education level   No degree or diploma  197 (29)     High school diploma/GED  381 (56)     Vocational/technical  certification  48 (7)     Associate’s degree  29 (4)     Bachelor’s degree  25 (4)     Master’s/advanced degree  6 (1)     Not reported (missing)  2 (<1)    Employment status   Employed full time  75 (11)     Employed part time  62 (9)     Retired  9 (1)     Student  9 (1)     Disabled  80 (12)     Unemployed  457 (67)    Poverty level (individual)   At or above federal poverty level  98 (15)     Below the poverty level  571 (85)    Age (years)    36.30 (18–75)  Number of children under 18    2.13 (0a–13)  aParticipants who were expecting their first child were included in the program. Table 1: Demographic Characteristics of Sample (N = 683) Characteristic  n (%)  M (Range)  Race and ethnicity   African American  282 (41)     White  327 (46)     Native American  34 (5)     Other/declined to answer  42 (8)     Hispanic  132 (19)    Education level   No degree or diploma  197 (29)     High school diploma/GED  381 (56)     Vocational/technical  certification  48 (7)     Associate’s degree  29 (4)     Bachelor’s degree  25 (4)     Master’s/advanced degree  6 (1)     Not reported (missing)  2 (<1)    Employment status   Employed full time  75 (11)     Employed part time  62 (9)     Retired  9 (1)     Student  9 (1)     Disabled  80 (12)     Unemployed  457 (67)    Poverty level (individual)   At or above federal poverty level  98 (15)     Below the poverty level  571 (85)    Age (years)    36.30 (18–75)  Number of children under 18    2.13 (0a–13)  Characteristic  n (%)  M (Range)  Race and ethnicity   African American  282 (41)     White  327 (46)     Native American  34 (5)     Other/declined to answer  42 (8)     Hispanic  132 (19)    Education level   No degree or diploma  197 (29)     High school diploma/GED  381 (56)     Vocational/technical  certification  48 (7)     Associate’s degree  29 (4)     Bachelor’s degree  25 (4)     Master’s/advanced degree  6 (1)     Not reported (missing)  2 (<1)    Employment status   Employed full time  75 (11)     Employed part time  62 (9)     Retired  9 (1)     Student  9 (1)     Disabled  80 (12)     Unemployed  457 (67)    Poverty level (individual)   At or above federal poverty level  98 (15)     Below the poverty level  571 (85)    Age (years)    36.30 (18–75)  Number of children under 18    2.13 (0a–13)  aParticipants who were expecting their first child were included in the program. Measures Father Involvement The Inventory of Father Involvement (Hawkins et al., 2002) is a 26-item instrument that yields a total score for involvement and nine subscale scores. Subscales—discipline/responsibility, school encouragement, mother support, providing, time and talking together, praise and affection, developing talents, reading and homework, and attentiveness—assess fathers’ perceptions of how good a job they are doing as fathers. Response choices range from 0 to 6, with higher scores indicating higher levels of self-assessed involvement. The measure was developed and refined using a nationally representative (although predominately white) sample and has been used in previous studies of father involvement with low-income men (Rienks et al., 2011). Preliminary confirmatory factor analyses suggested that the nine-factor model did not hold for our sample (see Results section). For the purposes of this study we report findings from the total score (sample α = .96). Personal and Relationship Profile (PRP) The PRP is a multiscale instrument used for clinical screening and research on risk factors for family violence (Straus, Hamby, Boney-McCoy, & Sugarman, 2010). The PRP includes 17 distinct scales of individual experiences and characteristics, including depressive symptoms, neglect history, criminal history, substance abuse, and several scales related to violence potential (violence approval, anger management, self-control); it also includes measures of environment such as social integration and stressful conditions (see Table 2 for list of measures, mean scores, and reliability coefficients for each construct). The PRP is a composite instrument of scales and cannot be scored as one measure. For this study, scales were selected from the PRP that reflected, broadly, components related to Lamb’s formulation of father involvement, including personal psychological factors (substance abuse, depressive symptoms), social support (social integration, relationship distress), and stressful conditions. Table 2: Mean Scores and Cronbach’s Alphas for Predictor and Criterion Variables (N = 683) Scale  M (Range)  SD  α  %  Father Involvement  3.19 (0–5)  1.25  .96    Limited Disclosure (social desirability)  2.81 (1–4)  0.443  .67    Self-Esteem  3.32 (1–5)  0.451  .56    Relationship Distress  2.05 (1–4)  0.629  .36    Social Integration  2.87 (1–4)  0.443  .49    Depressive Symptoms  1.78 (1–4)  0.498  .50    Stressful Conditions  2.00 (1–4)  0.515  .77    Substance Abuse  1.96 (1–4)  0.816  .90    Living Situation   Lives in institutional setting        35   Lives without children, either alone or with family or friends        27   Lives with children, either alone, with partner, or others (reference group)        38  Relationship status   Single (reference group)        29   Married        24   Committed relationship        27   Previously married (separated, divorced, widowed)        17  Scale  M (Range)  SD  α  %  Father Involvement  3.19 (0–5)  1.25  .96    Limited Disclosure (social desirability)  2.81 (1–4)  0.443  .67    Self-Esteem  3.32 (1–5)  0.451  .56    Relationship Distress  2.05 (1–4)  0.629  .36    Social Integration  2.87 (1–4)  0.443  .49    Depressive Symptoms  1.78 (1–4)  0.498  .50    Stressful Conditions  2.00 (1–4)  0.515  .77    Substance Abuse  1.96 (1–4)  0.816  .90    Living Situation   Lives in institutional setting        35   Lives without children, either alone or with family or friends        27   Lives with children, either alone, with partner, or others (reference group)        38  Relationship status   Single (reference group)        29   Married        24   Committed relationship        27   Previously married (separated, divorced, widowed)        17  Table 2: Mean Scores and Cronbach’s Alphas for Predictor and Criterion Variables (N = 683) Scale  M (Range)  SD  α  %  Father Involvement  3.19 (0–5)  1.25  .96    Limited Disclosure (social desirability)  2.81 (1–4)  0.443  .67    Self-Esteem  3.32 (1–5)  0.451  .56    Relationship Distress  2.05 (1–4)  0.629  .36    Social Integration  2.87 (1–4)  0.443  .49    Depressive Symptoms  1.78 (1–4)  0.498  .50    Stressful Conditions  2.00 (1–4)  0.515  .77    Substance Abuse  1.96 (1–4)  0.816  .90    Living Situation   Lives in institutional setting        35   Lives without children, either alone or with family or friends        27   Lives with children, either alone, with partner, or others (reference group)        38  Relationship status   Single (reference group)        29   Married        24   Committed relationship        27   Previously married (separated, divorced, widowed)        17  Scale  M (Range)  SD  α  %  Father Involvement  3.19 (0–5)  1.25  .96    Limited Disclosure (social desirability)  2.81 (1–4)  0.443  .67    Self-Esteem  3.32 (1–5)  0.451  .56    Relationship Distress  2.05 (1–4)  0.629  .36    Social Integration  2.87 (1–4)  0.443  .49    Depressive Symptoms  1.78 (1–4)  0.498  .50    Stressful Conditions  2.00 (1–4)  0.515  .77    Substance Abuse  1.96 (1–4)  0.816  .90    Living Situation   Lives in institutional setting        35   Lives without children, either alone or with family or friends        27   Lives with children, either alone, with partner, or others (reference group)        38  Relationship status   Single (reference group)        29   Married        24   Committed relationship        27   Previously married (separated, divorced, widowed)        17  The Relationship Distress Scale consists of eight items that measure discontentment within one’s relationship (α = .86–.78), and was included as a measure of interpersonal social support. Higher scores on this scale indicate relationships that are “characterized by high conflict and few positive interactions” (Straus et al., 2010, p. 14). The Stressful Conditions Scale consists of 10 items that measure external stressors, interpersonal problems, and self-fulfillment; higher scores indicate more stresses or hassles experienced in daily living (α = .67–.69). The Substance Abuse Scale measures current use of both alcohol and other drugs, with higher scores indicating more problems with substances (α = .81–.83). The Social Integration Scale measures current levels of social support and contains five subscales that assess commitment to personal goals or projects, criminal beliefs, delinquent peers, religious involvement, and kin network availability. Higher scores indicate higher levels of “attachment to society and social norms” (Straus et al., 2010) (α = .65–.67). The Depressive Symptoms Scale assesses level of mood disturbance, with higher scores indicating greater numbers of depressive symptoms (α = .79–.83). The Limited Disclosure Scale is a measure of social desirability (α = .70–.71) and was included to control for social desirability. All items for PRP scales were rated on a four-point Likert scale ranging from 1 = strongly disagree to 4 = strongly agree. Self-Esteem Self-esteem was measured by the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1965). This 10-item self-report scale measures global self-esteem and has been widely used and validated with adolescent and adult populations (α = .88). We used a five-point Likert scale ranging from 1 = never true to 5 = almost always true. The mean score was used, with higher scores indicating higher self-esteem (Gray-Little, Williams, & Hancock, 1997). Demographics and Living Situation Self-report of participant age, race and ethnicity, employment status (employed full or part time, in school, retired, unemployed), poverty level (calculated at or above the federal poverty level), marital status (single, married, in a committed relationship, or previously married—either divorced, separated, or widowed), and living situation were collected at baseline. Living situation was recoded into three categories: living with children (with or without partner or others), living without children (alone or with family members or friends), and living in a structured or institutionalized setting (jail, rehabilitation center, halfway house, “sober house,” group home, or homeless shelter). It should be noted that the only currently incarcerated population served by the program were those residing in a short-term driving under the influence (DUI) detention facility where sentences are generally less than six months. Employment status was included based on a dichotomous variable indicating whether the participant reported being unemployed at baseline. Race was coded to black or African American versus other in the analysis. Results A standard multiple regression analysis was conducted to explore the effect of personal, psychological, social, and economic factors on fatherhood involvement. Prior to conducting this analysis, all assumptions were met for multiple regression analyses. The assumption of multicollinearity was examined by running correlation coefficients for each pair of predictor variables. In addition, the factor structure of the dependent variable was explored using confirmatory factor analyses. In this analysis chi square was large (1,446.303) and the p value indicated a significant difference between observed and expected covariance matrices (<.0001). Model root mean square error of approximation was 0.0815 [95% confidence interval 0.0774, 0.0856], which was greater than 0.06; goodness-of-fit index (GFI), adjusted GFI, parsimonious GFI, normed fit index (NFI), parsimonious NFI, and the Bentler–Bonett nonnormed fit index were all less than 0.09, indicating that the nine-factor model fit was not acceptable. Despite poor model fit for a nine-factor model, the regression model was tested against each of the nine subscales. Similar results were found across the subscales, and results reported here are for the final model with the total score as the dependent variable. SPSS 22.0 was used for all analyses. The final regression model was significant [F(15) = 11.963, p < .001, R2 = .211]; the model accounted for about 21% of the variance in father involvement. After controlling for social desirability (limited disclosure) and all factors in the model, significant predictors of higher mean scores on the father involvement measure included being married (t = 2.14, p = .032), in a committed relationship (t = 3.13, p = .002), and higher self-esteem (t = 2.09, p = .037). Factors associated with lower levels of father involvement included living alone or with friends and family (not with children and not in a formal setting) (t = –4.97, p = <.001), living in an institutional setting (t = –3.50, p = < .001), and substance abuse (t = –2.76, p = .006). Income level (above the poverty line), stressful conditions, depressive symptoms, social integration, and relationship distress were not statistically significant predictors in the model. See Table 3 for unstandardized coefficients and confidence intervals for all predictors in the model. Table 3: Regression Analysis for Variables Predicting Father Involvement (N = 683) Variable  B  SE B  β  [95% Confidence Interval for B]  Social desirability**  .422  .136  .149  [.154, .689]  Client age  –.003  .004  –.021  [–.011, .006]  African American versus other  –.145  .096  –.056  [–.335, .044]  Lives alone/family/friends (without children)**  –.489  .098  –.176  [–.681, –.296]  Lives in an institutional setting**  –.368  .105  –.143  [–.574, –.162]  Married*  .291  .136  .097  [.024, .558]  Committed relationship**  .383  .122  .134  [.143, .624]  Other marital status  –.053  .141  –.016  [–.329, .223]  Income (above poverty level)  .019  .134  .005  [–.245, .283]  Stressful conditions  –.074  .106  –.030  [–.282, .135]  Social integration  .057  .129  .020  [–.197, .311]  Relationship distress  .071  .084  .035  [–.093, .235]  Self-esteem*  .207  .099  .073  [.013, .401]  Depressive symptoms  –.068  .100  –.123  [–.265, .129]  Substance abuse**  –.196  .071  –.110  [–.336, .056]  Variable  B  SE B  β  [95% Confidence Interval for B]  Social desirability**  .422  .136  .149  [.154, .689]  Client age  –.003  .004  –.021  [–.011, .006]  African American versus other  –.145  .096  –.056  [–.335, .044]  Lives alone/family/friends (without children)**  –.489  .098  –.176  [–.681, –.296]  Lives in an institutional setting**  –.368  .105  –.143  [–.574, –.162]  Married*  .291  .136  .097  [.024, .558]  Committed relationship**  .383  .122  .134  [.143, .624]  Other marital status  –.053  .141  –.016  [–.329, .223]  Income (above poverty level)  .019  .134  .005  [–.245, .283]  Stressful conditions  –.074  .106  –.030  [–.282, .135]  Social integration  .057  .129  .020  [–.197, .311]  Relationship distress  .071  .084  .035  [–.093, .235]  Self-esteem*  .207  .099  .073  [.013, .401]  Depressive symptoms  –.068  .100  –.123  [–.265, .129]  Substance abuse**  –.196  .071  –.110  [–.336, .056]  *p < .05. **p < .01. Table 3: Regression Analysis for Variables Predicting Father Involvement (N = 683) Variable  B  SE B  β  [95% Confidence Interval for B]  Social desirability**  .422  .136  .149  [.154, .689]  Client age  –.003  .004  –.021  [–.011, .006]  African American versus other  –.145  .096  –.056  [–.335, .044]  Lives alone/family/friends (without children)**  –.489  .098  –.176  [–.681, –.296]  Lives in an institutional setting**  –.368  .105  –.143  [–.574, –.162]  Married*  .291  .136  .097  [.024, .558]  Committed relationship**  .383  .122  .134  [.143, .624]  Other marital status  –.053  .141  –.016  [–.329, .223]  Income (above poverty level)  .019  .134  .005  [–.245, .283]  Stressful conditions  –.074  .106  –.030  [–.282, .135]  Social integration  .057  .129  .020  [–.197, .311]  Relationship distress  .071  .084  .035  [–.093, .235]  Self-esteem*  .207  .099  .073  [.013, .401]  Depressive symptoms  –.068  .100  –.123  [–.265, .129]  Substance abuse**  –.196  .071  –.110  [–.336, .056]  Variable  B  SE B  β  [95% Confidence Interval for B]  Social desirability**  .422  .136  .149  [.154, .689]  Client age  –.003  .004  –.021  [–.011, .006]  African American versus other  –.145  .096  –.056  [–.335, .044]  Lives alone/family/friends (without children)**  –.489  .098  –.176  [–.681, –.296]  Lives in an institutional setting**  –.368  .105  –.143  [–.574, –.162]  Married*  .291  .136  .097  [.024, .558]  Committed relationship**  .383  .122  .134  [.143, .624]  Other marital status  –.053  .141  –.016  [–.329, .223]  Income (above poverty level)  .019  .134  .005  [–.245, .283]  Stressful conditions  –.074  .106  –.030  [–.282, .135]  Social integration  .057  .129  .020  [–.197, .311]  Relationship distress  .071  .084  .035  [–.093, .235]  Self-esteem*  .207  .099  .073  [.013, .401]  Depressive symptoms  –.068  .100  –.123  [–.265, .129]  Substance abuse**  –.196  .071  –.110  [–.336, .056]  *p < .05. **p < .01. Discussion Demographic Factors Although it has been reported that young fathers may be less emotionally mature and responsible (Landale & Oropesa, 2001), the present study suggests that young fathers are engaging in parental responsibilities as much as older fathers; age was unrelated to father involvement in our study. Similarly, we found no differences based on race, although several previous studies have found that African American fathers in particular tend to have higher rates of father involvement compared with those of white fathers (see, for example, Cabrera et al., 2008). Economic Factors Contrary to previous studies (see, for example, Cabrera et al., 2008; Flouri, 2005; Rienks et al., 2011), employment status and income were not related to father involvement in the present study. This could be due to the large number of individuals who were unemployed and the extremely low levels of income across the sample—there may not have been sufficient variability to detect differences between levels of low income in this group. As identified previously, Wood and Repetti (2004) found that fathers were more likely to be involved with child-rearing activities after reductions in paid, full-time work. However, our study did not find a significant relationship between employment status or income and father involvement. Marital Status and Living Arrangements We expected that participants who reported being married or in a committed relationship would have more involvement with their children; however, this relationship was only significant for committed relationships in this study. Previous studies have found higher rates of father involvement among cohabitating as compared with married fathers in low-income samples of fathers (McClain & Brown, 2017; McClain & DeMaris, 2013), and we did find a difference in effect size for these two groups. One area that we were not able to capture in this study was residency as it relates to multipartner fertility. Although we assessed living situation, marital status, and relationship to children in the current household, we did not expand our inquiry to other potential children from different mothers in different households. As noted in the literature on these complex families, fathers may have differing levels of involvement depending on who is currently residing in the household shared by the father (Tach, Edin, Harvey, & Bryan, 2014). Interaction and direct engagement can be important components for father involvement (Lamb, 2010), and we know that fathers who reside with their children have more involvement with their children overall (Castillo, Welch, & Sarver, 2011). Thus, it is not surprising that fathers living outside the home reported less father involvement. In this study, we examined both living without children independently and in institutional settings (both compared with living with children). Both living conditions were statistically significant predictors of lower reported father involvement; however, the effect size for fathers in institutional settings was slightly lower than for those who lived apart from their children in other situations. Although we would expect that these fathers would have less reported involvement with their children, the intervention program may have served as a catalyst for recovering and reentering men to reestablish and strengthen relationships with their children and children’s mothers. Psychological Factors Contrary to prior studies (see, for example, Baker, 2014; Coates & Phares, 2014), depressive symptoms were not a significant predictor of father involvement in this sample. In general, fathers within the sample had low mean depression scores (see Table 2). In terms of psychological factors, self-esteem and substance abuse were associated with higher and lower levels of father involvement, respectively. This supports previous research that found substance use was associated with decreased father involvement (McMahon et al., 2008; Waller & Swisher, 2006). Substance abuse is often comorbid with depressive symptoms and is sometimes seen as an antecedent to this mental health disorder (Helseth, Samet, Johnsen, Bramness, & Waal, 2013). A fairly large percentage (35%) of participants in our program lived in an institutional setting, mostly related to substance abuse problems (DUI or substance abuse recovery); this, coupled with the nonsignificant finding for depressive symptoms and known comorbidity between substance abuse and depression, suggests that further exploration is warranted to fully understand the relationship between depressive symptoms and father involvement, especially in the context of recovery from substance addiction. Furthermore, this type of living situation could potentially have affected the father’s availability; however, as noted earlier, these settings would not have completely inhibited contact due to the local setting and short-term nature of these programs. Anecdotally, we found that substance abuse was cited by participants as an obstacle to engaging with their children and other family members, so it is not surprising that men who acknowledged substance abuse also reported lower levels of father involvement. Recent literature demonstrates that fathers who abuse substances may require different approaches during treatment to encourage participation in fathering support services (McMahon et al., 2007). Social Support and Stressful Conditions Social support was operationalized by scores on measures of social integration and relationship distress, to capture support measured by both significant romantic relationships and broader social systems. We also explored stressful conditions, as a measure of both interpersonal and external stressors on fathers. Neither social integration nor relationship distress were significant predictors of father involvement. This finding was different from previous studies and from research suggesting that men receive high levels of social support from romantic partners (Castillo & Sarver, 2012) and that marital satisfaction is positively correlated with father involvement (Kwok et al., 2013). It is surprising, given the challenges of the population sampled, that the expected relationship between stressful conditions and father involvement was not found in this study. These findings warrant further exploration and perhaps the development of more robust measures of personal and social support and a more comprehensive assessment of fathers’ unique stressors and challenges, especially as they relate to the fathering role. Limitations Limitations of the study include relying on self-report data regarding participants’ relationships with their children, significant others, and mental health symptoms. It is possible that negative behaviors were underreported to avoid scrutiny and unwanted interventions, especially among men who were transitioning from the criminal justice system. However, social desirability was accounted for. Participants in the program and in this study were located in one large suburban setting. Although the county in which the program took place is large and sprawling, it has a high median income and is home to some of the wealthiest areas in the nation. Despite this, there are neighborhoods of poverty that are disproportionately composed of African American and (predominantly immigrant) Latino families. In addition, the geographic region contains two Native American reservations (5% of the sample identified as Native American or American Indian); thus, program participants may not reflect state or national demographics and may differ significantly from residents of urban or rural areas. Findings may also not generalize to men who are not seeking fatherhood services. An additional limitation is the use of a unidimensional measure of father involvement that may not fully capture the complexity and variability of father involvement. However, confirmatory factor analyses suggest that the total score can serve as a useful measure of overall father involvement; similarly, subscale regression models in this study suggest similar predictors of involvement across dimensions. Implications for Social Work Practice with Fathers This study provides several implications for social work interventions with fathers. We found that engaging in a committed relationship and self-esteem were positively correlated with father involvement, thus relying on therapeutic interventions that promote relationship stability and a sense of intrinsic worth toward paternal involvement are consistent with developing effective parental outcomes. In addition, living alone or with friends and family (not with children and not in a formal setting) and living in an institutional setting were associated with lower father involvement. This suggests the potential utility of implementing a community-oriented practice intervention. Creating such a venue offers the possibility for fathers to interact with their children when such opportunities are limited. To address the inverse relationship between father involvement and substance abuse, providing substance use services to fathers may simultaneously assist the father and child alike. The findings also have implications for substance abuse treatment programs. Although romantic relationships are generally discouraged in the first year of most recovery programs, father involvement may play a complementary role in long-term abstinence. In the 12-step model of recovery, steps 8, 9, and 10 emphasize taking a “personal inventory” and making “amends” to those who have been harmed by the substance user while active in their addiction (Alcoholics Anonymous, 2014). Such amends may restore a commitment for fathers to be involved with their children, especially as fathers redefine their identities as “clean addicts” and “reformed fathers” (Peled, Gavriel-Fried, & Katz, 2012). Future Research The development and assessment of specialized parenting interventions supporting fathers is warranted. Currently, there is a lack of family- and child-focused programs targeting fathers, particularly within low-income communities (Greif et al., 2011), even though federal, state, and local funding for responsible fatherhood, healthy relationships, and family and father-focused reentry from prison has increased dramatically in recent years, thus providing ample opportunities for intervention research on these populations. Studies involving self-efficacy may augment our self-esteem finding and further our understanding of effective substance abuse outcomes, as suggested by Raynor (2013). This study explored a narrow definition of self-esteem, whereas future studies may benefit from using self-efficacy scales that uncover a father’s belief in his capabilities to perform effectively as a parent (Bandura, 1994). We also know less about dynamics and patterns of involvement in fathers with multiple children in different households; future research could explore mechanisms for increasing father involvement for men with children in multiple households. Related to this, our understanding of father involvement usually centers around physical availability, which does not take into account the unique role fathers can play even while they are not physically present in the child’s life (that is, incarcerated, in in-patient treatment, serving in the armed forces, or displaced from the home for work). These settings could be explored from the perspective of acknowledging the psychological presence and distance-mediated involvement that fathers may engage in. Related to these different patterns of father involvement, the use of robust measures of father involvement and engagement that take into consideration the multiple components of fathers’ participation and engagement in their children’s lives is warranted. The unidimensional measures of father involvement have been critiqued (including the Inventory of Father Involvement; see, for example, Schoppe-Sullivan, McBride, & Ho, 2004); however, factor analysis by Hawkins et al. (2002) and analyses in the context of this study suggest that the total score may hold promise as a measure of father involvement. Further study of this and other measures of father involvement and engagement is needed with diverse samples of men in differing patterns of physical availability and cohabitation. Conclusion This study examined the effects of personal and psychological factors, social support, and socioeconomic opportunity on fatherhood involvement among men who were enrolled in a responsible fatherhood program. Our findings suggest that targeting substance use issues and low self-esteem may increase father involvement. Fathers’ marital status and living situation were also related to level of reported father engagement. Our findings underscore the need for more comprehensive fatherhood programming that includes mental health, substance use, and relationship counseling, in addition to traditional fatherhood program curricula. R. Anna Hayward-Everson, PhD, is associate professor, School of Social Welfare, Stony Brook University, HSC Level 2 Room 093-E, Stony Brook, NY 11794-8230; e-mail: anna.hayward@stonybrook.edu. Laura Honegger, PhD, is assistant professor, Social Work Department, University of St. Francis, Joliet, IL. Alexander Glazebrook, MSW, is director of technology and training, Older Adults Technology Services, and doctoral candidate, School of Social Welfare, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY. Stephen Rabeno, PhD, is clinical assistant professor and Kevin Yim, MS, is senior research analyst, School of Social Welfare, Stony Brook University. Funding for this project was provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (HHS, ACF), Grant: 90FK0047-01-00. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of HHS, ACF. We would like to thank the entire staff at the Suffolk County Fatherhood Initiative, especially Romarie McCue, Diane Saunders, Nancy Medina, Alfredo Rosario, Bruce Petrucci, Michael Pirozzi, and Howard Treadwell-Smith, for their dedicated service to fathers and families. References Ahmeduzzaman, M., & Roopnarine, J. L. 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Predictors of Father Involvement in a Sample of Low-Income Men Enrolled in a Responsible Fatherhood Program

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Oxford University Press
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© 2018 National Association of Social Workers
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1070-5309
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1545-6838
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10.1093/swr/svy004
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Abstract

Abstract Fathers play an important role in the lives of their children and are an underserved and understudied population. This study explored predictors of father involvement in a sample of low-income fathers enrolled in a responsible fatherhood program in one large county in the northeastern United States. Although many demographic, psychological, and social factors have been found to be associated with father involvement in other research, in our study only living situation, marital status, substance abuse, and self-esteem were significant predictors of involvement. The findings of this study underscore the need for more comprehensive fatherhood programming that includes mental health, substance use, and relationship counseling in addition to the traditional fatherhood program curriculum. Suggestions for future research include the study of father involvement among fathers of children in multiple households, as well as among fathers who are not physically present (for example, incarcerated or serving in the armed forces), and specifically in the context of substance abuse services. Fathers and father figures can serve a protective function in the lives of at-risk children. Father involvement has been associated with decreased child behavioral problems throughout childhood and adolescence (Amato & Rivera, 1999), increased social competence and cognitive functioning (Dubowitz et al., 2001), and decreased risk for psychological (Carlson, 2006) and social problems (Goncy & van Dulmen, 2010). Research on the causes and correlates of father involvement have identified factors that are associated with father involvement, and this work has resulted in the development of interventions and informed new research on father involvement. Over the past two decades, researchers have distinguished several factors that are associated with paternal involvement that may lead to positive outcomes for children (see, for example, Allen & Hawkins, 1999; Cochran, 1997; Lamb, 2010). An early conceptualization of parenting processes, including fathering, was developed by Belsky (1984) and includes three broad areas that influence parenting, namely, father characteristics and psychological resources, stress and support, and child characteristics. Lamb (2010) further identified five interdependent determinants associated with paternal involvement: (1) characteristics of the father (demographic, personal, and psychological factors), (2) social support, (3) community and cultural influencers (socioeconomic opportunity), (4) individual child characteristics, and (5) institutional practices and public policies. The overlap between Belsky (1984) and Lamb (2010) form the basis of our exploration of father involvement in this study. Drawing from Lamb’s five areas of determinants, we focus on personal (demographic and psychological), social support, and personal economic factors. Both Belsky and Lamb identified personal factors but did not specifically address common mental health disorders (that is, depression, substance abuse) that are commonly encountered among low-income fathers in community and clinical settings. The current study explores predictors of father involvement in a sample of low-income men participating in a responsible fatherhood and healthy marriage program. Exploring father involvement in this population contributes to the existing literature in three important ways: (1) We examine father involvement among men who are participating in one of the growing numbers of fatherhood programs across the nation; (2) our sample is exclusively low-income men who present with a myriad of economic and psychosocial needs; and (3) we explore psychological factors that have not received in-depth attention in the literature. Literature Review The literature on father involvement has largely focused on identifying the complexities of defining, measuring, and predicting father involvement. For this study, literature was reviewed that specifically explored father involvement as an outcome variable. Factors associated with father involvement were identified within three broad categories corresponding to three of Lamb’s (2010) determinants, including (1) fathers’ characteristics such as demographic factors (that is, age, race, marital status) and psychological factors (including mental health, substance abuse, self-esteem), (2) social support, and (3) economic factors. Additional factors associated with father involvement following Lamb’s model include characteristics of the child (for example, age, gender, and behavior) (see, for example, Amato & Rivera, 1999; Flouri, 2005; Gadeyne, Ghesquiere, & Onghena, 2004) and institutional practices that may discourage father involvement; these are beyond the scope of the present study. Demographic Factors Although a number of studies have concluded that age of the father has little influence on paternal involvement (Ahmeduzzaman & Roopnarine, 1992; Landale & Oropesa, 2001; Sanderson & Thompson, 2002), some research suggests that younger fathers are more involved in certain activities. For example, Baker (2014) found that younger fathers were more likely to engage in play with their children than older fathers. Furthermore, Hofferth (2003) found that older fathers are less likely to spend time with their children compared with younger fathers. Conversely, Volling and Belsky (1991) suggested that older fathers may be more responsive and affectionate with their infant children. There is some evidence to suggest that paternal involvement differs by race and ethnicity. African American and Hispanic fathers have been found to take greater responsibility and be more involved in the caretaking of their children as compared with white fathers (Cabrera, Ryan, Mitchell, Shannon, & Tamis-LeMonda, 2008; Hofferth, 2003; Sanderson & Thompson, 2002); possibly due to differences in re-partnering patterns (Cabrera et al., 2008). A study of American Indian fathers by Padilla, Ward, and Limb (2013) found that parental relationship quality had a larger impact on the level of father engagement than coresidence when compared with fathers from other ethnic groups. Psychological Factors Psychological factors may also play an important role in a father’s involvement with his child; these can include motivation, skills, and self-confidence (Lamb, 2010) as well as psychological well-being and mental health. Although no research was located that specifically explored father involvement and severe mental health conditions, some work has explored the impact of more common mental health issues such as depression, general psychological well-being, and substance abuse. Baker (2014) found that African American fathers who experienced fewer depressive symptoms and stressors engaged in more frequent play with their young children. Similarly, Coates and Phares (2014) found that black fathers with better psychological well-being had higher levels of paternal involvement. In a Head Start sample, depressive symptoms were inversely related to father involvement with preschool-age children (Roggman, Boyce, Cook, & Cook, 2002). A meta-analysis conducted by Wilson and Durbin (2010) across 28 published and unpublished studies found small effect sizes for the relationship between paternal depression and lower levels of positive parenting and higher levels of negative parenting. Although they did not explore father involvement explicitly, the relationship between depression and more negative parenting styles may be relevant for exploring dimensions of father involvement. Active substance use has been associated with decreased father involvement (McMahon, Winkel, & Rounsaville, 2008; Waller & Swisher, 2006). McMahon et al. (2008) contrasted opioid-addicted fathers with their non-drug-addicted counterparts across several dimensions and found that addicted fathers possessed less self-worth, had poorer relationships with the biological mothers of their children, and rated their paternal performance lower than non-drug-abusing fathers. Comparisons of paternal involvement among men with no history of substance abuse and those with substance abuse problems are underrepresented in the literature (McMahon et al., 2008). However, researchers have identified negative traits associated with fathers who abuse substances. Fathers who abuse alcohol have been shown to exhibit less positive emotions during interaction with their infant children and possessed weaker attachments (Eiden, Edwards, & Leonard, 2002; El-Sheikh & Buckhalt, 2003), and they may be more likely to experience higher levels of parenting stress, poorer communication with their children, and poorer parent–child relationships (Blackson et al., 1999; McMahon, Winkel, Suchman, & Rounsaville, 2007). Several studies explored the areas of self-efficacy and self-esteem in relation to father involvement. In an international sample, Kwok, Ling, Leung, and Li (2013) found that parenting self-efficacy was related to father involvement. Parental self-esteem may also be related to more engaged play with infants; however, this relationship may also be related to other factors including child characteristics and parenting attitudes (Volling & Belsky, 1991). Social Support Social support for fathers includes their relationships with partners, children’s mothers, and other extended family members (Lamb & Lewis, 2010) as well as community resources and other cultural influences outside the narrow scope of personal relationships (Coates & Phares, 2014). Coates and Phares (2014) found that social support, including community resources, moderated the relationship between psychological well-being and paternal involvement. Social support from children’s mothers may be particularly important as a mother often acts as a gatekeeper between a father and child, dictating accessibility and availability parameters (Lamb & Lewis, 2010); for low-income fathers with limited resources, this may be particularly important. Recent research confirms that a father’s accessibility to his child is mediated by his relationship with the mother (Coley & Hernandez, 2006; Cowan, Cowan, Pruett, Pruett, & Gillette, 2014; Padilla et al., 2013; Rienks, Wadsworth, Markman, Einhorn, & Etter, 2011). Moreover, Coley and Hernandez (2006) found that among low-income residential and nonresidential fathers, emotional conflict between parents affected paternal accessibility. Stressful conditions can be both psychological and related to social support and include stress related to parenting, economic stressors, and general life stressors. Fagan, Bernd, and Whiteman (2007) also identified an inverse relationship between stress and paternal engagement. Socioeconomic Opportunity Financial resources and socioeconomic opportunity have been shown to affect paternal involvement and successful fathering. Tamis-LeMonda and McFadden (2010) categorized these aspects within the larger context of community and cultural influences. However, the proliferation of recent research on socioeconomic status and financial security as it relates to father involvement seems to necessitate the addition of a sixth determinant in Lamb’s original approach. A study by Wood and Repetti (2004) found that fathers were more likely to participate in child-rearing activities after reductions in paid, full-time work—thus, an economic downturn may actually contribute to increased father involvement. In this context, a father’s participation in child rearing was characterized as a “resource that is activated in times of need” (Wood & Repetti, 2004, p. 246). That is, income and employment may have different effects on father involvement depending on the circumstances of the family system, employment patterns, and spousal employment. Present Study The current study explores father involvement among a sample of low-income men who self-selected to enroll in a responsible fatherhood and healthy relationship program. The purpose of the study was to determine whether factors previously identified in the literature as predictors of father involvement were relevant in this population. Previous studies have explored these predictors in a variety of populations including married, nonresident, and middle-income populations; this study contributes to the literature by exploring factors related to father involvement in a sample of low-income men seeking services specifically around fathering. We used a theoretical foundation that combines the overlapping constructs of Belsky (1984) and Lamb (2010), with previously identified psychological factors to explore what personal (demographic), psychological (that is, depressive symptoms, substance abuse, and self-esteem), social (social support and stressful conditions), and economic (employment and income) factors predicted self-reported father involvement in a sample of low-income men seeking father-related services. Method Data Sources and Sample Men who enrolled in a responsible fatherhood program were assessed at program enrollment across a number of domains. The intervention aims to increase responsible fatherhood; improve relationship skills; encourage healthy relationships; and increase economic stability of families through job training, counseling, referral, and placement. Inclusion criteria for the program included fatherhood status of a child under 18, geographic location (within county), low income, and unstable or lack of employment. The program is voluntary, and all participants attended the program either at one of two program sites or within an off-site program (such as a sober house, transitional housing facility, or local jail). Demographic data were available on the entire sample of fathers (N = 806), but 15% of program participants (n = 123) chose not to participate in the full assessment protocol. Thus, the final sample for this study was 683. Preliminary analyses were conducted comparing the noncompleter group with those who completed the entire assessment. No significant differences were found between groups on race, age, marital status, income, or employment status. Table 1 presents descriptive statistics on age, race, education and employment, and living situation (with children, alone or with partner; living alone or with friends or family; or living in an institutional setting such as a local jail, group home, rehabilitation facility, halfway house, or homeless shelter). The average age of participants was 36 years (range: 18 to 75). Most men in the program were single (29%), in a committed nonmarried relationship (28%), or married (25%). Most participants (84%) had a high school diploma or GED (56%) or less (29%); 67% reported being unemployed at the time of program entry, and 83% were at or below the poverty line for a single person. Eighty-nine percent of participants were biological fathers. The racial makeup of the sample was 46% white, 41% African American or black, and 5% Native American; 19% of participants identified as Hispanic or Latino. It should be noted that the county the program serves is over 80% white and is extremely racially and economically segregated; thus the sample is representative of the lower-income residents of this county even if it does not reflect overall population demographics. The county is also home to two recognized Native American tribes. Table 1: Demographic Characteristics of Sample (N = 683) Characteristic  n (%)  M (Range)  Race and ethnicity   African American  282 (41)     White  327 (46)     Native American  34 (5)     Other/declined to answer  42 (8)     Hispanic  132 (19)    Education level   No degree or diploma  197 (29)     High school diploma/GED  381 (56)     Vocational/technical  certification  48 (7)     Associate’s degree  29 (4)     Bachelor’s degree  25 (4)     Master’s/advanced degree  6 (1)     Not reported (missing)  2 (<1)    Employment status   Employed full time  75 (11)     Employed part time  62 (9)     Retired  9 (1)     Student  9 (1)     Disabled  80 (12)     Unemployed  457 (67)    Poverty level (individual)   At or above federal poverty level  98 (15)     Below the poverty level  571 (85)    Age (years)    36.30 (18–75)  Number of children under 18    2.13 (0a–13)  Characteristic  n (%)  M (Range)  Race and ethnicity   African American  282 (41)     White  327 (46)     Native American  34 (5)     Other/declined to answer  42 (8)     Hispanic  132 (19)    Education level   No degree or diploma  197 (29)     High school diploma/GED  381 (56)     Vocational/technical  certification  48 (7)     Associate’s degree  29 (4)     Bachelor’s degree  25 (4)     Master’s/advanced degree  6 (1)     Not reported (missing)  2 (<1)    Employment status   Employed full time  75 (11)     Employed part time  62 (9)     Retired  9 (1)     Student  9 (1)     Disabled  80 (12)     Unemployed  457 (67)    Poverty level (individual)   At or above federal poverty level  98 (15)     Below the poverty level  571 (85)    Age (years)    36.30 (18–75)  Number of children under 18    2.13 (0a–13)  aParticipants who were expecting their first child were included in the program. Table 1: Demographic Characteristics of Sample (N = 683) Characteristic  n (%)  M (Range)  Race and ethnicity   African American  282 (41)     White  327 (46)     Native American  34 (5)     Other/declined to answer  42 (8)     Hispanic  132 (19)    Education level   No degree or diploma  197 (29)     High school diploma/GED  381 (56)     Vocational/technical  certification  48 (7)     Associate’s degree  29 (4)     Bachelor’s degree  25 (4)     Master’s/advanced degree  6 (1)     Not reported (missing)  2 (<1)    Employment status   Employed full time  75 (11)     Employed part time  62 (9)     Retired  9 (1)     Student  9 (1)     Disabled  80 (12)     Unemployed  457 (67)    Poverty level (individual)   At or above federal poverty level  98 (15)     Below the poverty level  571 (85)    Age (years)    36.30 (18–75)  Number of children under 18    2.13 (0a–13)  Characteristic  n (%)  M (Range)  Race and ethnicity   African American  282 (41)     White  327 (46)     Native American  34 (5)     Other/declined to answer  42 (8)     Hispanic  132 (19)    Education level   No degree or diploma  197 (29)     High school diploma/GED  381 (56)     Vocational/technical  certification  48 (7)     Associate’s degree  29 (4)     Bachelor’s degree  25 (4)     Master’s/advanced degree  6 (1)     Not reported (missing)  2 (<1)    Employment status   Employed full time  75 (11)     Employed part time  62 (9)     Retired  9 (1)     Student  9 (1)     Disabled  80 (12)     Unemployed  457 (67)    Poverty level (individual)   At or above federal poverty level  98 (15)     Below the poverty level  571 (85)    Age (years)    36.30 (18–75)  Number of children under 18    2.13 (0a–13)  aParticipants who were expecting their first child were included in the program. Measures Father Involvement The Inventory of Father Involvement (Hawkins et al., 2002) is a 26-item instrument that yields a total score for involvement and nine subscale scores. Subscales—discipline/responsibility, school encouragement, mother support, providing, time and talking together, praise and affection, developing talents, reading and homework, and attentiveness—assess fathers’ perceptions of how good a job they are doing as fathers. Response choices range from 0 to 6, with higher scores indicating higher levels of self-assessed involvement. The measure was developed and refined using a nationally representative (although predominately white) sample and has been used in previous studies of father involvement with low-income men (Rienks et al., 2011). Preliminary confirmatory factor analyses suggested that the nine-factor model did not hold for our sample (see Results section). For the purposes of this study we report findings from the total score (sample α = .96). Personal and Relationship Profile (PRP) The PRP is a multiscale instrument used for clinical screening and research on risk factors for family violence (Straus, Hamby, Boney-McCoy, & Sugarman, 2010). The PRP includes 17 distinct scales of individual experiences and characteristics, including depressive symptoms, neglect history, criminal history, substance abuse, and several scales related to violence potential (violence approval, anger management, self-control); it also includes measures of environment such as social integration and stressful conditions (see Table 2 for list of measures, mean scores, and reliability coefficients for each construct). The PRP is a composite instrument of scales and cannot be scored as one measure. For this study, scales were selected from the PRP that reflected, broadly, components related to Lamb’s formulation of father involvement, including personal psychological factors (substance abuse, depressive symptoms), social support (social integration, relationship distress), and stressful conditions. Table 2: Mean Scores and Cronbach’s Alphas for Predictor and Criterion Variables (N = 683) Scale  M (Range)  SD  α  %  Father Involvement  3.19 (0–5)  1.25  .96    Limited Disclosure (social desirability)  2.81 (1–4)  0.443  .67    Self-Esteem  3.32 (1–5)  0.451  .56    Relationship Distress  2.05 (1–4)  0.629  .36    Social Integration  2.87 (1–4)  0.443  .49    Depressive Symptoms  1.78 (1–4)  0.498  .50    Stressful Conditions  2.00 (1–4)  0.515  .77    Substance Abuse  1.96 (1–4)  0.816  .90    Living Situation   Lives in institutional setting        35   Lives without children, either alone or with family or friends        27   Lives with children, either alone, with partner, or others (reference group)        38  Relationship status   Single (reference group)        29   Married        24   Committed relationship        27   Previously married (separated, divorced, widowed)        17  Scale  M (Range)  SD  α  %  Father Involvement  3.19 (0–5)  1.25  .96    Limited Disclosure (social desirability)  2.81 (1–4)  0.443  .67    Self-Esteem  3.32 (1–5)  0.451  .56    Relationship Distress  2.05 (1–4)  0.629  .36    Social Integration  2.87 (1–4)  0.443  .49    Depressive Symptoms  1.78 (1–4)  0.498  .50    Stressful Conditions  2.00 (1–4)  0.515  .77    Substance Abuse  1.96 (1–4)  0.816  .90    Living Situation   Lives in institutional setting        35   Lives without children, either alone or with family or friends        27   Lives with children, either alone, with partner, or others (reference group)        38  Relationship status   Single (reference group)        29   Married        24   Committed relationship        27   Previously married (separated, divorced, widowed)        17  Table 2: Mean Scores and Cronbach’s Alphas for Predictor and Criterion Variables (N = 683) Scale  M (Range)  SD  α  %  Father Involvement  3.19 (0–5)  1.25  .96    Limited Disclosure (social desirability)  2.81 (1–4)  0.443  .67    Self-Esteem  3.32 (1–5)  0.451  .56    Relationship Distress  2.05 (1–4)  0.629  .36    Social Integration  2.87 (1–4)  0.443  .49    Depressive Symptoms  1.78 (1–4)  0.498  .50    Stressful Conditions  2.00 (1–4)  0.515  .77    Substance Abuse  1.96 (1–4)  0.816  .90    Living Situation   Lives in institutional setting        35   Lives without children, either alone or with family or friends        27   Lives with children, either alone, with partner, or others (reference group)        38  Relationship status   Single (reference group)        29   Married        24   Committed relationship        27   Previously married (separated, divorced, widowed)        17  Scale  M (Range)  SD  α  %  Father Involvement  3.19 (0–5)  1.25  .96    Limited Disclosure (social desirability)  2.81 (1–4)  0.443  .67    Self-Esteem  3.32 (1–5)  0.451  .56    Relationship Distress  2.05 (1–4)  0.629  .36    Social Integration  2.87 (1–4)  0.443  .49    Depressive Symptoms  1.78 (1–4)  0.498  .50    Stressful Conditions  2.00 (1–4)  0.515  .77    Substance Abuse  1.96 (1–4)  0.816  .90    Living Situation   Lives in institutional setting        35   Lives without children, either alone or with family or friends        27   Lives with children, either alone, with partner, or others (reference group)        38  Relationship status   Single (reference group)        29   Married        24   Committed relationship        27   Previously married (separated, divorced, widowed)        17  The Relationship Distress Scale consists of eight items that measure discontentment within one’s relationship (α = .86–.78), and was included as a measure of interpersonal social support. Higher scores on this scale indicate relationships that are “characterized by high conflict and few positive interactions” (Straus et al., 2010, p. 14). The Stressful Conditions Scale consists of 10 items that measure external stressors, interpersonal problems, and self-fulfillment; higher scores indicate more stresses or hassles experienced in daily living (α = .67–.69). The Substance Abuse Scale measures current use of both alcohol and other drugs, with higher scores indicating more problems with substances (α = .81–.83). The Social Integration Scale measures current levels of social support and contains five subscales that assess commitment to personal goals or projects, criminal beliefs, delinquent peers, religious involvement, and kin network availability. Higher scores indicate higher levels of “attachment to society and social norms” (Straus et al., 2010) (α = .65–.67). The Depressive Symptoms Scale assesses level of mood disturbance, with higher scores indicating greater numbers of depressive symptoms (α = .79–.83). The Limited Disclosure Scale is a measure of social desirability (α = .70–.71) and was included to control for social desirability. All items for PRP scales were rated on a four-point Likert scale ranging from 1 = strongly disagree to 4 = strongly agree. Self-Esteem Self-esteem was measured by the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1965). This 10-item self-report scale measures global self-esteem and has been widely used and validated with adolescent and adult populations (α = .88). We used a five-point Likert scale ranging from 1 = never true to 5 = almost always true. The mean score was used, with higher scores indicating higher self-esteem (Gray-Little, Williams, & Hancock, 1997). Demographics and Living Situation Self-report of participant age, race and ethnicity, employment status (employed full or part time, in school, retired, unemployed), poverty level (calculated at or above the federal poverty level), marital status (single, married, in a committed relationship, or previously married—either divorced, separated, or widowed), and living situation were collected at baseline. Living situation was recoded into three categories: living with children (with or without partner or others), living without children (alone or with family members or friends), and living in a structured or institutionalized setting (jail, rehabilitation center, halfway house, “sober house,” group home, or homeless shelter). It should be noted that the only currently incarcerated population served by the program were those residing in a short-term driving under the influence (DUI) detention facility where sentences are generally less than six months. Employment status was included based on a dichotomous variable indicating whether the participant reported being unemployed at baseline. Race was coded to black or African American versus other in the analysis. Results A standard multiple regression analysis was conducted to explore the effect of personal, psychological, social, and economic factors on fatherhood involvement. Prior to conducting this analysis, all assumptions were met for multiple regression analyses. The assumption of multicollinearity was examined by running correlation coefficients for each pair of predictor variables. In addition, the factor structure of the dependent variable was explored using confirmatory factor analyses. In this analysis chi square was large (1,446.303) and the p value indicated a significant difference between observed and expected covariance matrices (<.0001). Model root mean square error of approximation was 0.0815 [95% confidence interval 0.0774, 0.0856], which was greater than 0.06; goodness-of-fit index (GFI), adjusted GFI, parsimonious GFI, normed fit index (NFI), parsimonious NFI, and the Bentler–Bonett nonnormed fit index were all less than 0.09, indicating that the nine-factor model fit was not acceptable. Despite poor model fit for a nine-factor model, the regression model was tested against each of the nine subscales. Similar results were found across the subscales, and results reported here are for the final model with the total score as the dependent variable. SPSS 22.0 was used for all analyses. The final regression model was significant [F(15) = 11.963, p < .001, R2 = .211]; the model accounted for about 21% of the variance in father involvement. After controlling for social desirability (limited disclosure) and all factors in the model, significant predictors of higher mean scores on the father involvement measure included being married (t = 2.14, p = .032), in a committed relationship (t = 3.13, p = .002), and higher self-esteem (t = 2.09, p = .037). Factors associated with lower levels of father involvement included living alone or with friends and family (not with children and not in a formal setting) (t = –4.97, p = <.001), living in an institutional setting (t = –3.50, p = < .001), and substance abuse (t = –2.76, p = .006). Income level (above the poverty line), stressful conditions, depressive symptoms, social integration, and relationship distress were not statistically significant predictors in the model. See Table 3 for unstandardized coefficients and confidence intervals for all predictors in the model. Table 3: Regression Analysis for Variables Predicting Father Involvement (N = 683) Variable  B  SE B  β  [95% Confidence Interval for B]  Social desirability**  .422  .136  .149  [.154, .689]  Client age  –.003  .004  –.021  [–.011, .006]  African American versus other  –.145  .096  –.056  [–.335, .044]  Lives alone/family/friends (without children)**  –.489  .098  –.176  [–.681, –.296]  Lives in an institutional setting**  –.368  .105  –.143  [–.574, –.162]  Married*  .291  .136  .097  [.024, .558]  Committed relationship**  .383  .122  .134  [.143, .624]  Other marital status  –.053  .141  –.016  [–.329, .223]  Income (above poverty level)  .019  .134  .005  [–.245, .283]  Stressful conditions  –.074  .106  –.030  [–.282, .135]  Social integration  .057  .129  .020  [–.197, .311]  Relationship distress  .071  .084  .035  [–.093, .235]  Self-esteem*  .207  .099  .073  [.013, .401]  Depressive symptoms  –.068  .100  –.123  [–.265, .129]  Substance abuse**  –.196  .071  –.110  [–.336, .056]  Variable  B  SE B  β  [95% Confidence Interval for B]  Social desirability**  .422  .136  .149  [.154, .689]  Client age  –.003  .004  –.021  [–.011, .006]  African American versus other  –.145  .096  –.056  [–.335, .044]  Lives alone/family/friends (without children)**  –.489  .098  –.176  [–.681, –.296]  Lives in an institutional setting**  –.368  .105  –.143  [–.574, –.162]  Married*  .291  .136  .097  [.024, .558]  Committed relationship**  .383  .122  .134  [.143, .624]  Other marital status  –.053  .141  –.016  [–.329, .223]  Income (above poverty level)  .019  .134  .005  [–.245, .283]  Stressful conditions  –.074  .106  –.030  [–.282, .135]  Social integration  .057  .129  .020  [–.197, .311]  Relationship distress  .071  .084  .035  [–.093, .235]  Self-esteem*  .207  .099  .073  [.013, .401]  Depressive symptoms  –.068  .100  –.123  [–.265, .129]  Substance abuse**  –.196  .071  –.110  [–.336, .056]  *p < .05. **p < .01. Table 3: Regression Analysis for Variables Predicting Father Involvement (N = 683) Variable  B  SE B  β  [95% Confidence Interval for B]  Social desirability**  .422  .136  .149  [.154, .689]  Client age  –.003  .004  –.021  [–.011, .006]  African American versus other  –.145  .096  –.056  [–.335, .044]  Lives alone/family/friends (without children)**  –.489  .098  –.176  [–.681, –.296]  Lives in an institutional setting**  –.368  .105  –.143  [–.574, –.162]  Married*  .291  .136  .097  [.024, .558]  Committed relationship**  .383  .122  .134  [.143, .624]  Other marital status  –.053  .141  –.016  [–.329, .223]  Income (above poverty level)  .019  .134  .005  [–.245, .283]  Stressful conditions  –.074  .106  –.030  [–.282, .135]  Social integration  .057  .129  .020  [–.197, .311]  Relationship distress  .071  .084  .035  [–.093, .235]  Self-esteem*  .207  .099  .073  [.013, .401]  Depressive symptoms  –.068  .100  –.123  [–.265, .129]  Substance abuse**  –.196  .071  –.110  [–.336, .056]  Variable  B  SE B  β  [95% Confidence Interval for B]  Social desirability**  .422  .136  .149  [.154, .689]  Client age  –.003  .004  –.021  [–.011, .006]  African American versus other  –.145  .096  –.056  [–.335, .044]  Lives alone/family/friends (without children)**  –.489  .098  –.176  [–.681, –.296]  Lives in an institutional setting**  –.368  .105  –.143  [–.574, –.162]  Married*  .291  .136  .097  [.024, .558]  Committed relationship**  .383  .122  .134  [.143, .624]  Other marital status  –.053  .141  –.016  [–.329, .223]  Income (above poverty level)  .019  .134  .005  [–.245, .283]  Stressful conditions  –.074  .106  –.030  [–.282, .135]  Social integration  .057  .129  .020  [–.197, .311]  Relationship distress  .071  .084  .035  [–.093, .235]  Self-esteem*  .207  .099  .073  [.013, .401]  Depressive symptoms  –.068  .100  –.123  [–.265, .129]  Substance abuse**  –.196  .071  –.110  [–.336, .056]  *p < .05. **p < .01. Discussion Demographic Factors Although it has been reported that young fathers may be less emotionally mature and responsible (Landale & Oropesa, 2001), the present study suggests that young fathers are engaging in parental responsibilities as much as older fathers; age was unrelated to father involvement in our study. Similarly, we found no differences based on race, although several previous studies have found that African American fathers in particular tend to have higher rates of father involvement compared with those of white fathers (see, for example, Cabrera et al., 2008). Economic Factors Contrary to previous studies (see, for example, Cabrera et al., 2008; Flouri, 2005; Rienks et al., 2011), employment status and income were not related to father involvement in the present study. This could be due to the large number of individuals who were unemployed and the extremely low levels of income across the sample—there may not have been sufficient variability to detect differences between levels of low income in this group. As identified previously, Wood and Repetti (2004) found that fathers were more likely to be involved with child-rearing activities after reductions in paid, full-time work. However, our study did not find a significant relationship between employment status or income and father involvement. Marital Status and Living Arrangements We expected that participants who reported being married or in a committed relationship would have more involvement with their children; however, this relationship was only significant for committed relationships in this study. Previous studies have found higher rates of father involvement among cohabitating as compared with married fathers in low-income samples of fathers (McClain & Brown, 2017; McClain & DeMaris, 2013), and we did find a difference in effect size for these two groups. One area that we were not able to capture in this study was residency as it relates to multipartner fertility. Although we assessed living situation, marital status, and relationship to children in the current household, we did not expand our inquiry to other potential children from different mothers in different households. As noted in the literature on these complex families, fathers may have differing levels of involvement depending on who is currently residing in the household shared by the father (Tach, Edin, Harvey, & Bryan, 2014). Interaction and direct engagement can be important components for father involvement (Lamb, 2010), and we know that fathers who reside with their children have more involvement with their children overall (Castillo, Welch, & Sarver, 2011). Thus, it is not surprising that fathers living outside the home reported less father involvement. In this study, we examined both living without children independently and in institutional settings (both compared with living with children). Both living conditions were statistically significant predictors of lower reported father involvement; however, the effect size for fathers in institutional settings was slightly lower than for those who lived apart from their children in other situations. Although we would expect that these fathers would have less reported involvement with their children, the intervention program may have served as a catalyst for recovering and reentering men to reestablish and strengthen relationships with their children and children’s mothers. Psychological Factors Contrary to prior studies (see, for example, Baker, 2014; Coates & Phares, 2014), depressive symptoms were not a significant predictor of father involvement in this sample. In general, fathers within the sample had low mean depression scores (see Table 2). In terms of psychological factors, self-esteem and substance abuse were associated with higher and lower levels of father involvement, respectively. This supports previous research that found substance use was associated with decreased father involvement (McMahon et al., 2008; Waller & Swisher, 2006). Substance abuse is often comorbid with depressive symptoms and is sometimes seen as an antecedent to this mental health disorder (Helseth, Samet, Johnsen, Bramness, & Waal, 2013). A fairly large percentage (35%) of participants in our program lived in an institutional setting, mostly related to substance abuse problems (DUI or substance abuse recovery); this, coupled with the nonsignificant finding for depressive symptoms and known comorbidity between substance abuse and depression, suggests that further exploration is warranted to fully understand the relationship between depressive symptoms and father involvement, especially in the context of recovery from substance addiction. Furthermore, this type of living situation could potentially have affected the father’s availability; however, as noted earlier, these settings would not have completely inhibited contact due to the local setting and short-term nature of these programs. Anecdotally, we found that substance abuse was cited by participants as an obstacle to engaging with their children and other family members, so it is not surprising that men who acknowledged substance abuse also reported lower levels of father involvement. Recent literature demonstrates that fathers who abuse substances may require different approaches during treatment to encourage participation in fathering support services (McMahon et al., 2007). Social Support and Stressful Conditions Social support was operationalized by scores on measures of social integration and relationship distress, to capture support measured by both significant romantic relationships and broader social systems. We also explored stressful conditions, as a measure of both interpersonal and external stressors on fathers. Neither social integration nor relationship distress were significant predictors of father involvement. This finding was different from previous studies and from research suggesting that men receive high levels of social support from romantic partners (Castillo & Sarver, 2012) and that marital satisfaction is positively correlated with father involvement (Kwok et al., 2013). It is surprising, given the challenges of the population sampled, that the expected relationship between stressful conditions and father involvement was not found in this study. These findings warrant further exploration and perhaps the development of more robust measures of personal and social support and a more comprehensive assessment of fathers’ unique stressors and challenges, especially as they relate to the fathering role. Limitations Limitations of the study include relying on self-report data regarding participants’ relationships with their children, significant others, and mental health symptoms. It is possible that negative behaviors were underreported to avoid scrutiny and unwanted interventions, especially among men who were transitioning from the criminal justice system. However, social desirability was accounted for. Participants in the program and in this study were located in one large suburban setting. Although the county in which the program took place is large and sprawling, it has a high median income and is home to some of the wealthiest areas in the nation. Despite this, there are neighborhoods of poverty that are disproportionately composed of African American and (predominantly immigrant) Latino families. In addition, the geographic region contains two Native American reservations (5% of the sample identified as Native American or American Indian); thus, program participants may not reflect state or national demographics and may differ significantly from residents of urban or rural areas. Findings may also not generalize to men who are not seeking fatherhood services. An additional limitation is the use of a unidimensional measure of father involvement that may not fully capture the complexity and variability of father involvement. However, confirmatory factor analyses suggest that the total score can serve as a useful measure of overall father involvement; similarly, subscale regression models in this study suggest similar predictors of involvement across dimensions. Implications for Social Work Practice with Fathers This study provides several implications for social work interventions with fathers. We found that engaging in a committed relationship and self-esteem were positively correlated with father involvement, thus relying on therapeutic interventions that promote relationship stability and a sense of intrinsic worth toward paternal involvement are consistent with developing effective parental outcomes. In addition, living alone or with friends and family (not with children and not in a formal setting) and living in an institutional setting were associated with lower father involvement. This suggests the potential utility of implementing a community-oriented practice intervention. Creating such a venue offers the possibility for fathers to interact with their children when such opportunities are limited. To address the inverse relationship between father involvement and substance abuse, providing substance use services to fathers may simultaneously assist the father and child alike. The findings also have implications for substance abuse treatment programs. Although romantic relationships are generally discouraged in the first year of most recovery programs, father involvement may play a complementary role in long-term abstinence. In the 12-step model of recovery, steps 8, 9, and 10 emphasize taking a “personal inventory” and making “amends” to those who have been harmed by the substance user while active in their addiction (Alcoholics Anonymous, 2014). Such amends may restore a commitment for fathers to be involved with their children, especially as fathers redefine their identities as “clean addicts” and “reformed fathers” (Peled, Gavriel-Fried, & Katz, 2012). Future Research The development and assessment of specialized parenting interventions supporting fathers is warranted. Currently, there is a lack of family- and child-focused programs targeting fathers, particularly within low-income communities (Greif et al., 2011), even though federal, state, and local funding for responsible fatherhood, healthy relationships, and family and father-focused reentry from prison has increased dramatically in recent years, thus providing ample opportunities for intervention research on these populations. Studies involving self-efficacy may augment our self-esteem finding and further our understanding of effective substance abuse outcomes, as suggested by Raynor (2013). This study explored a narrow definition of self-esteem, whereas future studies may benefit from using self-efficacy scales that uncover a father’s belief in his capabilities to perform effectively as a parent (Bandura, 1994). We also know less about dynamics and patterns of involvement in fathers with multiple children in different households; future research could explore mechanisms for increasing father involvement for men with children in multiple households. Related to this, our understanding of father involvement usually centers around physical availability, which does not take into account the unique role fathers can play even while they are not physically present in the child’s life (that is, incarcerated, in in-patient treatment, serving in the armed forces, or displaced from the home for work). These settings could be explored from the perspective of acknowledging the psychological presence and distance-mediated involvement that fathers may engage in. Related to these different patterns of father involvement, the use of robust measures of father involvement and engagement that take into consideration the multiple components of fathers’ participation and engagement in their children’s lives is warranted. The unidimensional measures of father involvement have been critiqued (including the Inventory of Father Involvement; see, for example, Schoppe-Sullivan, McBride, & Ho, 2004); however, factor analysis by Hawkins et al. (2002) and analyses in the context of this study suggest that the total score may hold promise as a measure of father involvement. Further study of this and other measures of father involvement and engagement is needed with diverse samples of men in differing patterns of physical availability and cohabitation. Conclusion This study examined the effects of personal and psychological factors, social support, and socioeconomic opportunity on fatherhood involvement among men who were enrolled in a responsible fatherhood program. Our findings suggest that targeting substance use issues and low self-esteem may increase father involvement. Fathers’ marital status and living situation were also related to level of reported father engagement. Our findings underscore the need for more comprehensive fatherhood programming that includes mental health, substance use, and relationship counseling, in addition to traditional fatherhood program curricula. R. Anna Hayward-Everson, PhD, is associate professor, School of Social Welfare, Stony Brook University, HSC Level 2 Room 093-E, Stony Brook, NY 11794-8230; e-mail: anna.hayward@stonybrook.edu. Laura Honegger, PhD, is assistant professor, Social Work Department, University of St. Francis, Joliet, IL. Alexander Glazebrook, MSW, is director of technology and training, Older Adults Technology Services, and doctoral candidate, School of Social Welfare, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY. Stephen Rabeno, PhD, is clinical assistant professor and Kevin Yim, MS, is senior research analyst, School of Social Welfare, Stony Brook University. Funding for this project was provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (HHS, ACF), Grant: 90FK0047-01-00. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of HHS, ACF. We would like to thank the entire staff at the Suffolk County Fatherhood Initiative, especially Romarie McCue, Diane Saunders, Nancy Medina, Alfredo Rosario, Bruce Petrucci, Michael Pirozzi, and Howard Treadwell-Smith, for their dedicated service to fathers and families. References Ahmeduzzaman, M., & Roopnarine, J. L. 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Social Work ResearchOxford University Press

Published: Mar 30, 2018

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