PPL Young Fathers Historical Data


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Summary Report of PPL Young Fathers Program 2004 through 2008 (5 years)

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PPL Young Fathers Historical Data

  1. 1. PPL YOUNG FATHERS PROGRAM <br />5 YEAR REPORT 2004 thru 2008<br />By Patrick Morley, M. Ed<br />Program Manager, Self Sufficiency Program<br />Project for Pride in Living, Inc.<br />Introduction<br />Both internationally and in the United States the advantages to children of fathers being involved in their lives is well documented, as well as the converse disadvantages to children when their fathers are not adequately involved in their child’s lives. Closer to home, these same advantages and disadvantages for Minnesota children and their fathers are also well documented. It is this simple reality that is what is behind the two simple goals of the PPL Young Fathers Program: Increase the amount of time a father has with his children, and improve the quality of that time.<br />Project for Pride in Living (www.ppl-inc.org), in a partnership with MELD for Young Dads (www.parentsasteachers.org) established the PPL Young Fathers Program in October of 2000. From 2000-2003 PPL-MELD served a total of about a 100 young fathers through weekly MELD support groups. The partnership with MELD ended at the end of 2003 and from 2004-2006 the Responsible Fatherhood curriculum (www.npcl.org) was used. The partnership was resumed in 2006 and the MELD curriculum has been used ever since. The following report is a summary of the program’s activities and data collected from the beginning of 2004 through 2008 – 5 years.<br />Location<br />PPL and MELD chose St. Paul, MN as the location to initiate the PPL Young Fathers Program to increase both organizations’ presence in the city. MELD had 4 sites in Minneapolis at the time but only 1 in St. Paul and it was faltering due to changes in staff and focus of another partnering agency. PPL had housing but little social service programming offered to the community outside of the residents of its properties. When the other agency bowed out, PPL offered to step in through an in-kind exchange, and the PPL Young Fathers Program was born.<br />Support Group model<br />The MELD for Young Dads program is built on a peer information, education, and support group model in which young fathers support each other with their own knowledge, experiences, strengths, and hope, while gaining additional knowledge and support from a well researched curriculum. The typical MELD group is a group of 4-6 young parents between the ages of 15 and 25 with children aged 5 or younger, that meets weekly or every other week, for about 2 hours, throughout the year. The groups use a curriculum that covers the first 5 years of a child’s life in terms of child development stages, but also addresses a range of topics relevant to the development of young parents themselves.<br />Theoretical Basis<br />The principle theory of the PPL Young Fathers Program is from Doherty, Kouneski, and Ericsson “Responsible Fathering: An Overview and Conceptual Framework” (1998) which states that within the father-mother-child triad relationship external influences have greater impact on father involvement relative to mother involvement with the child. That is, how fathers believe they are perceived as fathers, by their child’s mother and others, has more relevance to their involvement. External supports thus are posited to have more influence on a father’s involvement than they would on a mother’s involvement with her child. Parenting support groups, and supports connected to them such as housing and employment supports, can provide that positive external influence on fathers, particularly younger fathers.<br />Logic Model<br />The following logic model describes the path of the intent of the program.<br />Inputs/ResourcesStrategiesOutputsOutcomesImpactFunding for a Program Manager, rental assistance, contracted service providers, food, transportation, trained volunteers for group facilitation, tested curriculum.Provide weekly parenting support and information groups for young fathers, transportation to/from groups, bi-monthly counseling groups for young fathers. One-on-one coaching with program manager/facilitator.348 groups held at 3 sites, 164 (unduplicated) young fathers attended at least once, attendance rates at 3 sites ranged from 50% (every other time) to 90% (virtually every time).Fathers report through evaluation methods improvements in their relationships w/ child’s mother, as well as greater confidence in their parenting skills.Increased father involvement is associated with a number of positive child well-being outcomes. <br />Goals <br />The goals of the PPL Young Fathers Program are simple: increase the amount of time a young father has with his child, and improve the quality of that time. The MELD philosophy embodied in the curriculum is also a simple approach: young fathers can learn from each other, can support each other, can cooperate while maintaining their individuality, and can make informed decisions as parents.<br />Evaluation<br />Crafting appropriate evaluation tools to measure impact on participating young fathers took some time as the partnership between MELD and PPL evolved. Due to changes in MELD’s structure and a subsequent interruption in the use of the curriculum, involvement data collection did not begin until 2003. The data collected is descriptive (point in time) statistics, and describes only the young fathers, not their children. No scientific conclusions can be drawn about the efficacy of the program improving parenting. However, enough data was gathered to flesh out a reliable description of a typical participant’s involvement with his child shortly after entering the program (usually within a month of first contact).<br />Also, a focus group and set of interviews were conducted with 7 fathers participating in the program and living in PPL housing. While the number of participants was too small to draw any conclusions about the effectiveness of the group in terms of improving parenting, it did reveal that the fathers found the parenting support group, and the Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT) support, helpful to them as fathers.<br />Outputs<br />Parenting Support groups<br />From 2004 to the end of the calendar year 2008 the PPL Young Fathers Program held 348 groups attended by 164 fathers at 3 different locations in St. Paul. Attendance rates varied at each location. At the Boys Totem Town site of Ramsey County (MN) Juvenile Corrections (www.co.ramsey.mn.us) attendance rates were between 80-90%. At the Hague/Selby Ave. site the rates were between 50-60%. The third site at Face to Face Health Clinic (www.face2face.org) was established in 4th quarter 2008 and had an attendance rate of 50% (see charts below).<br />Therapeutic Support Groups<br />In 2007 PPL Young Fathers Program contracted with another agency to provide counseling by Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFTs) to the young fathers. They conducted 83 individual and group sessions from September 2007 to December 2008. 59 individual sessions and 24 group sessions attended by 10 fathers over those 15 months.<br />Other forms of support<br />Participants received a number of other kinds of support to help them improve their overall self-sufficiency and parenting. The following is the numbers of fathers (unduplicated) who received support in a given area over the course of their involvement in the program. <br />Number of participants who received:<br />Monthly Bus passes/tokens: 15<br />Gift Cards: 10<br />Furniture: 14<br />Rides: 30<br />Systems Advocacy (child support, child protection, economic assistance, health care, courts): 15<br />Education/training (tuition, other related costs): 3<br />Rental assistance: 14<br />Legal help: 3<br />Transportation related costs (DL fines, auto repairs): 4<br />Outcomes<br />Methodology<br />The primary tool used to try to determine the impact of the program on father’s parenting was a 24 question Father Involvement survey given to participants at the Hague/Selby site approximately every 3 months. The tool went through 7 edits prior to its current version and was also used at another PPL Fathers Program site that had participating young and older fathers so the current tool was tested. A 3 question feedback form was also given every 5-6 weeks to try to capture those participants’ feelings around the efficacy of the group themselves. A weekly questionnaire was given to BTT participants starting in 2007 to try to gauge how they felt about how the group was helping them or not.<br />A total of 73 unduplicated first time Father Involvement Surveys were given over the 5 year period. The cumulative descriptive statistics help create a picture of the young men at the time they first become involved with the program. However, subsequent surveys given to track progress in the program were far fewer in number so pre-post test data was not collected.<br />Attendance rates (% of # of participant/sessions) 2004-2008. Face to Face group added in fall of 2008.<br />Number of participants 2004-2008. <br />Number of sessions held at each site, 2004 -2008.<br />Ethnicity of participants, 2004 -2008.<br />Frequency of contact with their child(ren), 2004-2008.<br />Hours spent with children when seeing them, 2004-2008.<br />Involvement Summary<br />The Involvement data captures only a single moment in time (descriptive statistics). The data is self reported by the participants and thus is likely to have some bias. There is no control group of non-participants to compare to, and no information from other care providers, or the participants’ children themselves, so we are missing those perspectives on father involvement. Consequently, we cannot say there is a causal relationship between the level of involvement of PPL Young Fathers Program participants in the program and the level of their involvement in their children’s lives. However, we can say a few things about these fathers that can inform us on the nature of the parenting challenges they are faced with, and the nature of their responses to those challenges. <br />Not surprisingly, since the program markets to young fathers with small children, the typical participant is about 19 years old and has 1 child who is between 1 and 2 years old. Since PPL is a community based organization in an urban setting he most likely comes from the inner city of St. Paul, but may be from inner city of Minneapolis, or from an inner-ring suburb. He is not married to the mother of that child, is most likely a young man of color, sees his child daily and spends 12-24 hours of that day with the child but not consecutively, and spends most of that time meeting the child’s basic needs. He is far less likely to be involved in actually taking the child to a medical professional, and has virtually no involvement in their formal spiritual education, but does have some sort of regular conversation with the child’s mother about the care of the child. It is likely he lives with his parents or relatives and has no formal housing of his own. While the time he spends with his child is fairly consistent, his financial involvement with the child is more sporadic. He is not likely to have a child support order or employment, but if he does, he is making between $8-$9/hour part-time (20 hours a week or less), and has an order between $200-$225/month. Those who are more stably housed reported greater frequency of contact and more hours of contact so housing stability appears to be an important factor in his meeting the child’s basic care needs. For those who feel they have an obstacle to seeing their children more often they report that it is due to a poor relationship with the child’s mother more than any other reason.<br />Overall community impact<br />The impact of the PPL Young Fathers Program on the St. Paul community in the 5 years from 2004 through 2008 is difficult to determine primarily because evaluating the children of the fathers is particularly challenging, and the long term goal of the program is to improve outcomes in child well-being as that is the most effective prevention against a wide range of social problems including preventing unwanted pregnancy and future ill-prepared young fathers and mothers. If there is an impact it is likely much less tangible in nature and probably farther out in time. Getting a picture of how children feel about their father, what is the educational attainment of the children in the long run, what is their ability to cope with adversity and still thrive (resiliency), are all things that can be measured individually or even in aggregate, but in any event require rigorous longitudinal scientific evaluation which the program simply has yet to be able to afford and is still the stuff of its dreams. That being said, the outputs of the program themselves should give some comfort that young fathers are being served in some tangible manner that improves their ability to care for themselves and be more involved with their children while in the program, and warrants continued support from everyone in the community. <br />Conclusion<br />Over the past 5 years the PPL Young Fathers Program has been able to provide St. Paul/Minneapolis young fathers a reliable and consistent resource to assist them in their parenting. While statistically measurable success in achieving the goals of the program is hard to determine, it can still be said to be a success in other ways; young fathers have an additional resource to access where they did not have one prior to the existence of the program, relationships with other organizations hoping to reach young fathers have been established and are growing, and fathers and their children have received tangible support in their parenting. <br />