The goal of this Phase II project, Fathering Through Change (FTC): Online Parent Training for Divorced Fathers, is to provide a severely underserved population, divorced fathers, with the skills necessary to be effective parents to their children and co-parents with their former spouses. To provide this training, FTC will adapt the Parent Management Training - Oregon (PMTO), the single largest 'family'of evidence-based programs on best practice lists such as SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practice, to the well-defined needs of divorced fathers. Delivery of FTC will occur through web-based mobile technology to maximize accessibility and to accommodate the preference of the current generation of parents for online social networking. FTC's blended learning approach engages participants in group-based learning as well as individualized interactive instruction. In Phase I, we developed and tested a pilot module to train divorced fathers in key parenting skills, including giving effective instruction, emotional self-regulation, and delivering positive reinforcement. Outcomes provided evidence of the program's usability, acceptability, and demonstrated within group pre-post intervention change in targeted domains program content. In Phase II we will develop and test additional modules to be delivered online. Program development will comprise focus groups of divorced fathers and certified PMTO trainers as well as family court services administrators. In year 2, we will conduct a randomized controlled trial with 260 participants to test the effectiveness of FCT on divorced fathers'parenting skills, co-parenting conflict and cooperation. Recruitment will occur through five participating family court administrations or community programs. Data will be collected at three waves: pre-intervention baseline, a 3 month post-intervention follow-up, and a 6-month post- intervention follow-up assessment. Linear growth models will be specified to test intent to treat hypotheses. The Principal Investigators have extensive experience in parent training, working with divorced fathers, and translational research involving media and Internet technologies. IRIS Media has received 12 Telly media awards for its programs and has extensive experience in developing parent support programs. The project benefits from partnerships with key consultants familiar with parenting challenges divorced fathers face as well as court mandates for divorced parents. FTC has the potential to fill a well-defined gap in the support structure for divorced fathers and thereby benefit both fathers and their children. The necessary institutional support, equipment and physical resources are available to develop and disseminate the program. IRIS Media has a history of completing Phase I and Phase II SBIR projects and prides itself on its commitment to commercializing training interventions.

Public Health Relevance

Divorced fathers experience high rates of depression and anxiety due to parenting strains, and their children are at elevated risk for behavioral problems associated with divorce and co-parenting conflict. Evidence based parenting programs for fathers are lacking. The aim of this proposal is to develop a parenting program for divorced fathers to teach essential parenting skills associated with positive child outcomes and reduced conflict with former spouses. The societal benefits of the proposed program include higher rates of compliance with child support obligations and lower rates of litigation and re-litigation.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Small Business Innovation Research Grants (SBIR) - Phase II (R44)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-RPHB-C (10))
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Mann Koepke, Kathy M
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Iris Media, Inc.
United States
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