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Understanding what fathers “bring to the table”

“We’re working towards increasing the quantity and quality of father’s involvement with their children,” said Jay Fagan, professor of social work and co-director of the Fatherhood Research and Practice Network (FRPN).  Twenty-one percent of children in the country live in single-mother households.  But, fathers who don’t live with their children still play an important role in their children’s lives, influencing many positive outcomes such as high school graduation, better peer relationships, less risk for domestic violence and improved overall well-being. 

Next week, Fagan and other experts will lead the Fatherhood Symposium (sponsored by FRPN) on Temple’s campus.  It is an opportunity said Fagan to show and understand what fathers “bring to the table.”  The event will feature five presentations on fathers’ and children’s development, legal rights in fatherhood, program evaluation in fatherhood programs, and a review of policies that support fatherhood and healthy marriage.

“While there is a growing body of research about how fathers positively influence child development, there is limited knowledge about which programs are most effective with low-income, nonresident fathers—the most marginalized group of fathers,” said Fagan. “We believe research is an important component of efforts to improve the lives of these men and enhance their familial relationships.”

Temple students are assisting Fagan with this research. “Temple students are mature, confident, and many come from diverse cultural backgrounds which means they bring a lot of energy and ideas to our research. They are active participants in interviews through the fatherhood programs, which provides them with an opportunity to get into the field and interact with individuals that they might not have met otherwise.”

Fagan’s research has come full-circle. Twenty years ago Fagan worked with a Head Start father working to obtain custody of his children.  This fall, one of that father’s daughters will come to Temple. “I am constantly reminded by the role that fathers can play in positive outcomes for their children and I am amazed by their ability to overcome obstacles along the way.” 

Posted:  March 27, 2015