The DADS Initiative: Measuring Father Involvement in Large Scale Surveys

Research BriefFatherhoodSep 1 2003

Focuses on ways of measuring the efficacy of father involvement in different scenarios, using different methods of assessment and different populations. Includes new research strategies and new parental paradigms to include paternal involvement.

In this chapter, the authors discuss methodological, design, and measurement issues related to studying father involvement and its impact on child development in three large national studies: the Early Head Start National Research and Evaluation Project Father Studies (EHS), the Fragile Families and Child-Well Being Study (FF), and the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study Birth-Cohort (ECLS-B). These studies are part of a coordinating effort titled “Developing a Daddy Survey” (DADS). The general mission of DADS is to increase comparability across surveys, and provide an integrated view of father involvement that can inform the field and serve as a guide for future projects that measure father involvement. This effort has resulted in substantial comparability in using similar constructs and survey questions as well as the opportunity to share each other’s experiences and challenges. Given this level of coordination, the DADS project has provided a unique opportunity to share strategies for engaging fathers in these studies and a forum for discussing the methodological challenges and opportunities for studying fatherhood in this population. The specific goals of the chapter are to (1) briefly present the historical context for this project, (2) describe the projects that are part of DADS, (3) provide an overview of the methodological challenges faced in collecting data on father involvement in the DADS studies that focus on “being a dad”, and (4) briefly present the way these studies have overcome challenges and the lessons learned. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)