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Preparing for Parenthood: A Father Inclusive Model of Prenatal Care

Research Team

Wrenetha Julion, Principal Investigator, RUSH University College of Nursing
Paul Florsheim, Co-Investigator, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Zilber School of Public Health
Kaiji Zusevics, Evaluation Team, Center for Urban Population Health
David Frazer, Evaluation Team, Center for Urban Population Health
Tina Schuh, Research Manager, Erie Family Health
Marie Trzupek Lynch, President & CEO, Skills for Chicagoland’s Future

Project Period

9/30/2020 - 9/29/2025

Funding Source

Administration for Children and Families


In 2018, the rate of babies born to unwed parents under the age of 25 was more than 7 out of 10. About half of these unwed parents will never cohabit, and over time, about half of nonresidential fathers will lose contact with their children. The rising rate of children who are disconnected from their fathers poses a significant threat to the health of our society because these children are more likely to live in chronic poverty, have trouble keeping up in school, and experience psychological problems. The problem is compounded because father disengagement is highest in economically and socially disadvantaged communities where young men face the double challenge of diminished opportunities and insufficient institutional supports to help them meet the challenges of partnership and parenthood. The basic premise of this proposal is that young families need additional institutional support to help them meet the challenges of parenthood and that prenatal clinics are well situated to address some of their needs by expanding services to include fathers.


The Father Inclusive Prenatal Healthcare (FIPH) model is designed to prepare young men for the challenges of parenting by supporting the development of their relationship skills as part of routine prenatal healthcare. This approach involves assessing expectant fathers and mothers with a “parent prep-check” to identify their needs and then offer services to address those needs and prepare them for parenthood. Services include: (1) parent education about how to understand and care for infants, and how to build secure parent-child bonds; (2) an evidence-based co-parenting program to strengthen and stabilize their family; and (3) educational and employment support designed to help young parents find and keep living wage jobs. The project will be implemented through a large multi-site federally qualified health center in Chicago that is well positioned to engage young fathers through their prenatal clinics. To extend the reach and accessibility of the model, trainings and most services will be available online.


The Young Parenthood Program will support the development of positive communication skills to strengthen the co-parenting relationship, helping young fathers and mothers work together to establish and maintain a stable, secure family. YPP is an evidence-based curriculum administered to expectant couples during the perinatal period to promote paternal-efficacy and support positive parenting behavior. Fathers will also be provided with ongoing parenting support using a modification of the evidenced based Building Bridges to Fatherhood program. A local community college and a workforce development agency will collaborate with FIPH leadership to develop a “career pathways” approach to helping young parents complete their education and/or obtain jobs through training and mentoring programs. Case managers will be assigned to help coordinate services and provide continuous support.

Project Design Statement

Expectant fathers and mother (ages 18-25) will be recruited through prenatal clinics. Recruitment will be rolled over time, using a stepped-wedge design, so later implementation clinics serve as controls for earlier ones. After the baseline assessment, follow-up evaluations will occur at 6- and 24-months post birth. Outcome measures will focus on: (a) relationship/co-parenting skills; (b) parent behavior and role identification; (c) job stability and financial support for children. All services will be offered in English and Spanish.