Healthy Families New York (HFNY) is an evidence-based home visiting program for expectant and new parents in socioeconomically disadvantaged families at elevated risk for child maltreatment and other adverse outcomes. HFNY makes concerted efforts to promote a father-inclusive culture and increase engagement of fathers in all aspects of home visiting. This study describes fathers’ participation in HFNY and examines how fathers’ participation relates to program retention and to father–child coresidency and father involvement. Program data were extracted from HFNY’s data management system. Program participation was measured by whether the father ever participated in a home visit. The sample includes 3341 families enrolled from January 1, 2013 to June 30, 2015. Program retention, father’s co-residency and father involvement were measured at the child’s 6 months follow-up. Logistic regression was used to calculate odds ratios. Results showed that when fathers participated in home visiting, families were more than four times as likely to be retained in the program. Additionally, fathers who were engaged were more likely to live at home with the child and to remain emotionally involved at 6 months. The data support the advancement of policy and practice to encourage participation of fathers in high-risk families in home visiting services.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Avellar, S. A., & Supplee, L. H. (2013). Effectiveness of home visiting in improving child health and reducing child maltreatment. Pediatrics, 132(Supplement 2), S90–S99.
Azzi-Lessing, L. (2011). Home visitation programs: Critical issues and future directions. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 26(4), 387–398.
Block, S., Brown, C. A., Barretti, L. M., Walker, E., Yudt, M., & Fretz, R. (2014). A mixed-method assessment of a parenting program for incarcerated fathers. Journal of Correctional Education, 65(1), 50.
Bronte-Tinkew, J., Burkhauser, M., & Metz, A. J. (2012). Elements of promising practices in fatherhood programs: Evidence-based research findings on interventions for fathers. Fathering: A Journal of Theory, Research, and Practice about Men as Fathers, 10(1), 6–30.
Bronte-Tinkew, J., Carrano, J., Horowitz, A., & Kinukawa, A. (2008). Involvement among resident fathers and links to infant cognitive outcomes. Journal of Family Issues, 29(9), 1211–1244.
Cabrera, N., Fagan, J., Wight, V., & Schadler, C. (2011). The influence of mother, father, and child risk on parenting and children’s cognitive and social behaviors. Child Development, 82, 1985–2005.
Carlson, M. J., McLanahan, S. S., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2008). Coparenting and nonresident fathers' involvement with young children after a nonmarital birth. Demography, 45(2), 461–488.
Choi, J.-K., & Jackson, A. P. (2011). Fathers’ involvement and child behavior problems in poor African American single-mother families. Children and Youth Services Review, 33(5), 698–704. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2010.11.013.
Cowan, P. A., Cowan, C. P., Pruett, M. K., Pruett, K., & Wong, J. J. (2009). Promoting fathers’ engagement with children: Preventive interventions for low-income families. Journal of Marriage and Family, 71(3), 663–679.
Duggan, A., Fuddy, L., McFarlane, E., Burrell, L., Windham, A., Higman, S., & Sia, C. (2004). Evaluating a statewide home visiting program to prevent child abuse in at-risk families of newborns: Fathers’ participation and outcomes. Child Maltreatment, 9(1), 3–17.
DuMont, K., Mitchell-Herzfeld, S., Greene, R., Lee, E., Lowenfels, A., Rodriguez, M., & Dorabawila, V. (2008). Healthy Families New York (HFNY) randomized trial: Effects on early child abuse and neglect. Child Abuse & Neglect, 32(3), 295–315.
Eckenrode, J., Ganzel, B., Henderson, C. R. Jr., Smith, E., Olds, D. L., Powers, J., … Sidora, K. (2000). Preventing child abuse and neglect with a program of nurse home visitation: The limiting effects of domestic violence. JAMA, 284(11), 1385–1391.
Fagan, J., & Lee, Y. (2012). Effects of fathers’ early risk and resilience on paternal engagement with 5-year-olds. Family Relations, 61(5), 878–892.
Ferguson, H., & Gates, P. (2015). Early intervention and holistic, relationship-based practice with fathers: Evidence from the work of the Family Nurse Partnership. Child & Family Social Work, 20(1), 96–105.
Gearing, M. E., Peters, H. E., Sandstrom, H., & Heller, C. (2015). Engaging low-income fathers in home visiting approaches. In Challenges, and strategies. OPRE Report #2015 – 104. Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families. Retrieved from US Department of Health the Human Services http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/20151130_fahv_report_finalized_b508.pdf.
Green, B. L., Sanders, M. B., & Tarte, J. (2017). Using administrative data to evaluate the effectiveness of the Healthy Families Oregon home visiting program: 2-year impacts on child maltreatment & service utilization. Children and Youth Services Review, 75, 77–86.
Guterman, N. B. (2012). Promoting father involvement in home visiting services for vulnerable families: A pilot study. Final Report to the Pew Center on the States. http://www.pewtrusts.org/~/media/legacy/uploadedfiles/pcs_assets/2013/fatherinvolvementreportpdf.pdf
Guterman, N. B., Bellamy, J. L., & Banman, A. (2018). Promoting father involvement in early home visiting services for vulnerable families: Findings from a pilot study of “Dads matter. Child Abuse and Neglect, 76, 262–272.
Guterman, N. B., Bellamy, J. L., Banman, A., & Morales-Mirguem, S. (2015). The Dads Matter enhancement to home visiting service: Early trends from a multisite randomized clinical trial. Presented at the 37th Annual Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management. Retrieved from https://appam.confex.com/appam/2015/webprogram/Paper13687.html.
Guterman, N. B., & Lee, Y. (2005). The role of fathers in risk for physical child abuse and neglect: Possible pathways and unanswered questions. Child Maltreatment, 10(2), 136–149.
Hawkins, A. J., Lovejoy, K. R., Holmes, E. K., Blanchard, V. L., & Fawcett, E. (2008). Increasing fathers’ involvement in child care with a couple-focused intervention during the transition to parenthood. Family Relations, 57(1), 49–59.
Healthy Families New York. (2017). Retrieved from http://www.healthyfamiliesnewyork.org/About/default.htmk.
Hofferth, S. L., & Goldscheider, F. (2010). Family structure and the transition to early parenthood. Demography, 47, 415–437. https://doi.org/10.1353/dem.0.0102.
Holmberg, J. R., & Olds, D. L. (2015). Father attendance in nurse home visitation. Infant Mental Health Journal, 36(1), 128–139.
Jones, K. (2004). Assessing psychological separation and academic performance in nonresident-father and resident father adolescent boys. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 21, 333. https://doi.org/10.1023/B:CASW.0000035220.56477.19.
Kempe, R. S., & Kempe, C. H. (1976). Child abuse. In J. Bruner, M. Cole & B. Lloyd (Eds.), The developing child series. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Kirkland, K. (2013). Effectiveness of home visiting as a strategy for promoting children’s adjustment to school. Zero to Three 2013, 33(3), 31–37. http://www.healthyfamiliesnewyork.org/About/default.htm.
Kiselica, M. S. (2008). When boys become parents: Adolescent fatherhood in America. Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Korfmacher, J. (2000). The Kempe Family Stress Inventory: A review. Child Abuse and Neglect, 24(1), 129–140.
Lamb, M. E. (2010). How do fathers influence children’s development? Let me count the ways. In M. E. Lamb (Ed.), The role of the father in child development (5th ed., pp. 1–17). New York: Wiley.
Lee, E., Mitchell-Herzfeld, S. D., Lowenfels, A. A., Greene, R., Dorabawila, V., & DuMont, K. A. (2009). Reducing low birth weight through home visitation: A randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 36(2), 154–160.
Lewin-Bizan, S. (2015). 24/7 Dad® Program in Hawaiʻi: Sample, design, and preliminary results. University of Hawaiʻi.
Martin, A., Ryan, R., Riina, E., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2017). Coresidential father transitions and biological parents’ coparenting quality in early and middle childhood. Journal of Family Issues, 38(5), 677–699.
McAllister, F., & Burgess. (2012). Fatherhood: Parenting programmes and policy. A Critical Review of Best Practice. Retrieved from http://www.fatherhoodinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Parenting-Programmes-and-Policy-Critical-Review-Full-Report.pdf.
McClain, L. R. (2011). Better parents, more stable partners: Union transitions among cohabiting parents. Journal of Marriage and Family, 73, 889–901. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-3737.2011.00859.x.
McMillin, S. E. (2016) Program enhancements to improve father involvement in early childhood home visitation: Program administrator perspectives. Social Work Research, 40(4), 249–259
Mincy, R. B., & Pouncy, H. (2007). Baby fathers and American family formation. Essay, Future of the Black Family Series. Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values, New York.
Navaie-Waliser, M., Martine, S., Campbell, M., Tessaro, I., Kotelchuck, M., & Cross, A. W. (2000). Factors predicting completion of a home visitation program by high-risk pregnant women: The North Carolina Maternal Outreach Worker Program. American Journal of Public Health, 90(1), 121–124.
Nurse Family Partnership. (2010). Evidentiary foundations of nurse family partnership. Retrieved from http://www.nursefamilypartnership.org/assets/PDF/Policy/NFP-EvidentiaryStandards_4-28-09.
Olds, D. L. (2002). Prenatal and infancy home visiting by nurses: From randomized trials to community replication. Prevention Science, 3(3), 153–172.
Olds, D. L. (2006). The nurse–family partnership: An evidence-based preventive intervention. Infant Mental Health Journal, 27(1), 5–25.
Olds, D. L., Robinson, J., O’Brien, R., Luckey, D. W., Pettitt, L. M., Henderson, C. R. … Talmi, A. (2002). Home visiting by paraprofessionals and nurses: A randomized controlled trial. Pediatrics, 110(3), 486–496.
Osborne, C., Berger, L., & Magnuson, K. (2012). Family structure transitions and changes in maternal resources and well-being. Demography, 49(1), 23–47.
Panter-Brick, C., Burgess, A., Eggerman, M., McAllister, F., Pruett, K., & Leckman, J. F. (2014). Practitioner review: Engaging fathers–recommendations for a game change in parenting interventions based on a systematic review of the global evidence. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 55(11), 1187–1212.
Peacock, S., Konrad, S., Watson, E., Nickel, D., & Muhajarine, N. (2013). Effectiveness of home visiting programs on child outcomes: A systematic review. BMC Public Health, 13(1), 1.
Pettit, G., Dodge, K., & Brown, M. (1988). Early Family Experience, Social Problem Solving Patterns, and Children’s Social Competence. Child Development, 59(1), 107–120. https://doi.org/10.2307/1130393.
Raikes, H. H., & Bellotti, J. (2006). Two studies of father involvement in Early Head Start programs: A national survey and a demonstration program evaluation. Parenting, 6(2–3), 229–242.
Robbers, M. (2009). Facilitating fatherhood: A longitudinal examination of father involvement among young minority fathers. Child Adolescent Social Work Journal, 26, 121;134.
Rosenberg, J., & Wilcox, W. B. (2006). The importance of fathers in the healthy development of children. US Department Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau, Office of Child Abuse and Neglect. https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/fatherhood.pdf.
Rostad, W. L., Self-Brown, S., Boyd Jr, C., Osborne, M., & Patterson, A. (2017). Exploration of factors predictive of at-risk fathers’ participation in a pilot study of an augmented evidence-based parent training program: A mixed methods approach. Children and Youth Services Review, 79, 485–494.
Sama-Miller, E., Akers, L., Mraz-Esposito, A., Avellar, S., Paulsell, D., & Grosso, D., P (2016). Home visiting evidence of effectiveness review: Executive summary. Washington, D.C.: Administration for Children: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation.
Sandstrom, H., Gearing, M., Peters, H. E., Heller, C., Healy, O., & Pratt, E. (2015). Approaches to father engagement and fathers’ experiences in home visiting programs. OPRE report no. 2015-103. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, US Department of Health and Human Services.
Sar, B. K., Antle, B. F., Bledsoe, L. K., Barbee, A. P., & Van Zyl, M. A. (2010). The importance of expanding home visitation services to include strengthening family relationships for the benefit of children. Children and Youth Services Review, 32(2), 198–205.
Sarkadi, A., Kristiansson, R., Oberklaid, F., & Bremberg, S. (2008). Fathers’ involvement and children’s developmental outcomes: A systematic review of longitudinal studies. Acta Paediatrica, 97(2), 153–158.
Scourfield, J. (2014). Improving work with fathers to prevent child maltreatment. Child Abuse & Neglect, 38(6), 974–981.
Sedlak, A. J., Mettenburg, J., Basena, M., Peta, I., McPherson, K., & Greene, A. (2010). Fourth national incidence study of child abuse and neglect (NIS-4). Washington, DC: US Department of Health and Human Services.
Smith, T. K., Duggan, A., Bair-Merritt, M. H., & Cox, G. (2012). Systematic review of fathers’ involvement in programmes for the primary prevention of child maltreatment. Child Abuse Review, 21(4), 237–254.
Stahlschmidt, M. J., Threlfall, J., Seay, K. D., Lewis, E. M., & Kohl, P. L. (2013). Recruiting fathers to parenting programs: Advice from dads and fatherhood program providers. Children and Youth Services Review, 35(10), 1734–1741.
Tach, L., Mincy, R. B., & Edin, K. (2010). Parenting as a “package deal”: Relationships, fertility, and nonresident father involvement among unmarried parents. Demography, 47(1), 181–204.
Tamis-LeMonda, C. S., Shannon, J. D., Cabrera, N. J., & Lamb, M. E. (2004). Fathers and mothers at play with their 2-and 3-year-olds: Contributions to language and cognitive development. Child Development, 75(6), 1806–1820.
The Pew Center on the States. (2010). The PEW Center on the States. The research case for home visiting: Strong families start with a strong foundation. Retrieved from http://www.pewtrusts.org/~/media/legacy/uploadedfiles/pcs_assets/2010/mombriefwebfinalpdf.pdf).
US DHHS (US Department of Health and Human Services). (2016). Administration of children and family services. Home visiting evidence of effectiveness. Retrieved from https://mchb.hrsa.gov/sites/default/files/mchb/MaternalChildHealthInitiatives/HomeVisiting/Federal_Home_Visiting_Program_Performance_Indicators_and_Systems_Outcomes_Summary.pdf.
Varghese, C., & Wachen, J. (2016). The determinants of father involvement and connections to children’s literacy and language outcomes: Review of the literature. Marriage & Family Review, 52(4), 331–359.
Zanoni, L., Warburton, W., Bussey, K., & McMaugh, A. (2014). Are all fathers in child protection families uncommitted, uninvolved and unable to change? Children and Youth Services Review, 41, 83–94.
Conflict of interest
All authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
About this article
Cite this article
McGinnis, S., Lee, E., Kirkland, K. et al. Engaging At-Risk Fathers in Home Visiting Services: Effects on Program Retention and Father Involvement. Child Adolesc Soc Work J 36, 189–200 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10560-018-0562-4
- Home visiting
- Father involvement
- At risk families
- Program retention
- Parenting intervention