Category: ADHD - Child

Symposium

Improving the Parenting Skills of Fathers of Preschool Children in Head Start: A Wait-List-Controlled Study

Sunday, November 19
10:15 AM - 11:45 AM
Location: Cobalt 501, Level 5, Cobalt Level

Keywords: Prevention | Parenting | School
Presentation Type: Symposium

Increased, meaningful father involvement in early childhood is a clear and long-standing national priority (for the remainder of this abstract “father” refers to any primary male caretaker). The White House (Office of the White House, 2012), multiple federal agencies, and national information clearinghouses (National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse: http://www.fatherhood.gov; National Fatherhood Initiative: http://www.fatherhood.org) emphasize the importance of father involvement in promoting healthy child development, stable families, and positive long-term outcomes. It is therefore highly problematic that fathers are as under-represented in early childhood settings as they are in the larger research literature examining preventive interventions and child development (e.g., Cassano, Adrian, Veits, & Zeman, 2006; Fabiano, 2007; Lee, 2006; Lee & Hunsley, 2006; Phares, 1996; Tiano & McNeil, 2005).


The Coaching Our Acting Out Children: Heightening Essential Skills (COACHES; Chacko, Fabiano et al., under review; Fabiano et al., 2012; Fabiano et al., 2009) program was created to engage and treat fathers of children with challenging behaviors. Recently, the COACHES program was adapted for use as an after-school program in Head Start academies to determine whether it might increase paternal engagement in school activities and improve parenting outcomes. 


METHODS: Sixty-seven male caregivers and their 3- to 5-year old enrolled. Academies were matched by the number of classrooms and randomly assigned within matched pairs to receive the COACHES program immediately or to a waitlist group. The primary outcome measure was observations of parent-child interactions following the completion of the first COACHES program.


RESULTS: Fathers in the COACHES program significantly reduced negative talk relative to the waitlist group (d = .73), and there was a trend toward reduced commands (d = .44).


CONCLUSIONS: The COACHES program appears to show promise as a viable intervention for improving parenting practices within a Head Start setting. In addition, it appears to be a feasible and effective means of increasing father involvement in early childhood settings, an area in need of continued emphasis and study. 

Abigail Caserta

Graduate Student
University at Buffalo, SUNY

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