Seedco Launches New Approach to Engage and Serve Low-Income Fathers and Their Children

Building Bridges and Bonds (B3) Overview:

Fathers play a unique role in their children’s lives and development, but some fathers face personal or societal barriers to positive involvement with their children — such as low levels of education, stigma from criminal records, declining wages, or family instability. Responsible Fatherhood programs aim to improve the well-being of low-income fathers and their children by addressing these types of barriers.

MDRC has assembled a team of leading experts in designing evaluations and providing programmatic technical assistance for demonstration projects. MDRC selected Seedco’s Strong Fathers Stronger Families program and its partners, BronxWorks and STRIVE, to roll out this study.

The B3 study uses a randomized control trial (RCT) design and seeks to inform program operators about the most effective ways to engage fathers and help them become increasingly self-sufficient and responsible parents. The study is designed to test innovative, evidence-informed approaches for fatherhood programs through the evaluation of three separate program components. Seedco is participating in two of the components (Just Beginning and DadTime).

MDRC recently released an introductory brief that  details approaches that support fathers in working toward economic stability and improved relationships with their children. Read the introductory brief here:https://www.mdrc.org/publication/three-innovative-approaches-serving-low-income-fathers

Just Beginning, an interactive approach to high-quality parenting

Just Beginning represents a new way to build the parenting skills of fathers, whether they live with their children or not, and increase coparenting skills. The intervention engages fathers and their children up to age 3 in a series of sessions designed to strengthen their relationships. Using a play-based approach, facilitators rely on Sesame Street videos to support parent learning and a child-friendly space for father-child play. Developed by Georgetown University and the Youth Law Center, Just Beginning includes direct feedback to emphasize and promote reflection on positive examples of parent and child bonding.

DadTime smartphone application

For fathers who are juggling parenthood, fatherhood program activities, and holding down a job or looking for work, it may be difficult to attend the Just Beginning sessions consistently. In response to this problem, the B3 team collaborated with the developers of the mDAD mobile application and CauseLabs to develop DadTime to improve participant recruitment and engagement. This smartphone-based mobile application provides a father with automated program attendance reminders and a private way to plan how he can apply what he is learning in Just Beginning the next time he is with his child.