Fathers who are positively involved in families during early childhood tend to contribute to positive outcomes for children. Federal policies and initiatives have been implemented to promote father involvement and positive parenting, specifically for parents who may experience identifiable risk factors such as poverty and parenting stress. Understanding service providers’ perceptions of father engagement and strategies used to target services to fathers can inform policy and programs. Sensitized by symbolic interactionism and intersectionality theory, using grounded theory methods, eighteen service providers who provide services to families of infants living in Appalachia were interviewed to examine (a) current service providers’ perceptions of engaging fathers in home visiting programs that target parents of infants in a rural population and (b) service providers’ social constructions of fathering, masculinities, and discrimination. A conceptual model emerged from service providers’ interviews revealing an intersectional matrix of interactions with social institutions, representing how service providers’ delivery of targeted services to fathers are informed by (1) social constructions of masculinity and fathering, (2) social locations of rural fathers, and (3) knowledge and awareness of structures of power. Future programs can address the resulting barriers to father engagement in programs by taking an intersectional approach to programming and training. Future research should investigate this model with other populations to confirm the utility of using this conceptual model to examine the direct services provided to fathers.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science