From Sports Fans to Nurturers: An Early Head Start Program’s Evolution Toward Father Involvement




Carol L. McAllister, Patrick C. Wilson, and Jeffrey Burton

Brief Type

Journal Publication


  • Early Head Start Home-Based Option


This article is based on an in-depth qualitative study of efforts by an Early Head Start program to include fathers in program activities with the aim of supporting and strengthening their involvement in their children’s lives. Since this program employs a home-visiting model of service delivery, our focus is on the work and experiences of home-visiting staff. Our key findings concern the evolutionary development of program thinking and practice regarding fathers and father involvement; barriers or challenges to father involvement; and successful strategies for engaging fathers on both a programmatic and an individual family basis. Unlike most previous research on father involvement, this study provides a close-up look at staff experiences as they attempt to involve fathers in programming for infants and toddlers. Although significant barriers to father involvement were identified, certain approaches and strategies proved most effective in encouraging father engagement in key program components and with their youngest children. (author abstract)

Data Collection Methods

  • Focus groups
  • Participant observations



For More Information

McAllister, C. L., Wilson, P. C., & Burton, J. (2004). From sports fans to nurturers: An Early Head Start program’s evolution toward father involvement. Fathering, 2(1), 31-59.
Author Contact Information:
Carol L. McAllister


  • Participant Recruitment, Retention, Engagement, and Dosage