ERIC Number: ED451904
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1999-Sep-15
Reference Count: N/A
Measuring Father Involvement in the Early Head Start Evaluation: A Multidimensional Conceptualization.
Cabrera, Natasha J.; Tamis-LeMonda, Catherine S.; Lamb, Michael E.; Boller, Kimberly
Early Head Start (EHS) is a comprehensive, two-generation program that includes intensive services that begin before the child is born and concentrate on enhancing the child's development and supporting the family during the critical first 3 years of a child's life. This paper discusses approaches to measuring father involvement in their children's lives and examines specific measurement methods used in the Father Studies of the Early Head Start Evaluation Project. In addition, the paper highlights lessons from the field that have emerged as father involvement is measured in the ongoing EHS project. Father involvement is described as a multidimensional, continually evolving concept. Time use measures of father involvement are described, and various models of involvement are presented. The paper notes limitations of existing instruments, including the questionable validity of self-report, the often interchangeable use of generic fathering versus child-specific fathers, and the limited generalization of findings from middle-class, European American groups to other groups. The paper describes the EHS program, summarizing the 17 EHS program sites participating in the national evaluation and local research and representing a diversity of locations, populations, culture, ethnicity, and urban-rural settings. Four strands of father studies planned are detailed: (1) interviews with fathers of 24- and 36-month-olds; (2) study of mothers and fathers of newborns; (3) study of strategies used by programs to engage fathers and father figures; and (4) local research studies focused on fatherhood issues significant to local populations. Measurement instruments are then detailed, including questionnaires and videotaped father-child interactions that will yield both qualitative and quantitative data. Finally, the paper explores some of the challenges in assessing father involvement among low-income men, including developing coding systems, obtaining reliability in coding father-child interactions, operationalizing specific constructs, retaining participants, and studying social fathers. The paper concludes by pointing out advances that have been made in the measurement of father involvement. (Contains 23 references.) (KB)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. of Child Health and Human Development (NIH), Bethesda, MD.; Administration for Children, Youth, and Families (DHHS), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Mathematica Policy Research, Princeton, NJ.