- Licensed/Certified Professional Led
- DV/SA Advocate Led
- Other types of providers (see Program Details)
Type of Experience Addressed:
- Domestic Violence
- Verbal/Emotional Abuse
Level of Intervention:
- Greater than 12 weeks
- Domestic Violence Shelter
- Community-based Agency
- Family Service Agency
- Mental Health Settings
- Foster Care
- Homeless Shelter
- Other Settings
Type of services:
Group parenting intervention for men who have been identified as having, or being at high risk for, abuse or neglect of their children or exposing their children to domestic violence. Intervention includes contact with children’s mothers and coordinated case management to reduce risk that fathers may pose to members of their families.
child and family mental health services, women’s shelters, protection service agencies, batterer’s intervention programs, family service agencies
Type of provider:
Social workers, child protection workers, child and family therapists, men’s therapist, batterer intervention program staff, probation officers, etc.
Length of program/number sessions:
The overarching goal of Caring Dads is to ensure the safety and well-being of children who have been impacted by men’s abuse or neglect including exposure to domestic violence. This is achieved through a fathering group intervention with associated contact with mothers and coordinated case management. Specific goals are:
- To develop sufficient trust and motivation to engage men in the process of examining their fathering
- To increase men’s awareness and application of child-centered fathering
- To eliminate men’s use of abuse and neglect towards their children and to promote respectful and non-abusive co-parenting with children’s mothers
- To promote men’s appreciation of the impact of their past abuse on their children and family and help men take responsibility for these behaviors
- To work with other professionals to plan for the future safety and well-being of children who have been impacted by abuse, neglect and/or domestic violence
Referrals are typically made by the legal system, child protection, child and family mental health services, batterer intervention programs and other referral agencies.
Caring Dads was established 20 years ago in London, ON Canada and is now offered in many countries – please see below for more details on locations.
The dropout rate was 19% which is low for programs working with perpetrators of violence.
Feedback from participants emphasizes the value they placed on having a chance to talk about parenting issues with other men and feelings of satisfaction with having changed their attitudes over the course of treatment.
This intervention, which includes systematic outreach to mothers to ensure safety and freedom from coercion, is an innovative combination of parenting skills with motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioral therapy.
Community-based model for accountability to ensure that child safety and well-being is enhanced as a result of fathers’ involvement in intervention.
- 18-25 (Young Adult)
- 25 and up (Adult)
Ethnic Racial Group:
- American Indian, Alaska Native, Other Indigenous
- Parent who uses Violence
Parent/adult caregiver included in intervention:
Yes, designed for men who have maltreated their children and/or exposed their children to domestic violence. Children’s mothers are also contacted to provide them with information, support referral, and safety planning as needed.
Ethnic/racial and other groups served:
Adaptation projects include: Caring Dads Adapted for Arabic & Islamic Cultural Diaspora, Caring Dads Adapted for Military Fathers
English, French, Arabic and Spanish – formal translations – all program materials including manual and homework book are available in these languages.
Integration of the literature on parenting, child maltreatment, change promotion, and batterer intervention. Caring Dads has motivational elements of a readiness program, educational elements of a traditional parenting program, and accountability aspects of a batterer’s intervention program. The program prioritizes the safety and well-being needs of children and children’s mothers as primary.
Papers and studies that established the foundation for Caring Dads:
Early studies of Caring Dads aimed to determine if there was a need for the program and if there was a match between the aims, goals and philosophies of the program with the issues that were being faced by men and their families. Early work also established the principles that form the foundation of Caring Dads and consider how these principles might help to change practice in work with fathers. The foundations of Caring Dads are what resonated with other organizations and communities, contributing to its spread across countries.
Scott, K .L. & Crooks, C. V. (2004). Effecting change in maltreating fathers. Clinical Psychology: Science & Practice, 11, 95-111.
Scott, K. L. & Crooks, C. V. (2006). Intervention for abusive fathers: Promising practices in court and community responses. Juvenile and Family Court Journal, 57(3), 29-44.
Scott, K. L. (2011). Practical Considerations for Parenting Interventions for Men who Batter. National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women.
Scott, K. L. (2011). Parenting Interventions for Men Who Batter. National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women.
Crooks, C.V., Scott, K. L., Francis, K., Kelly, T., & Reid, M. (2006). Eliciting change in maltreating fathers: Goals, processes, and desired outcomes. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 13, 71-81.
Scott, K. L. & Crooks, C. V. (2007). Preliminary evaluation of an intervention program for maltreating fathers. Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention, 7, 224-238.
Evaluations of Caring Dad that have used observational-descriptive and observational-analytic designs
A number of studies have examined change in men who have completed the Caring Dads program. These studies have used a range of methods including self-report and interviews of men, their partners and their children and examination of systems and process of referral and retention into the program. A number of these studies have been completed by independent research teams. It is clear that fathers are satisfied with the program. Results from 89 fathers who attended the program following a referral from child protection services found that 89% were either very satisfied or satisfied with the program, 97% would recommend CD to another father in a similar situation and 95% said that attending the program made them a better parent to their child. To summarize, fathers who complete Caring Dads generally show positive change in a range of outcomes including: hostility and over-reactivity to children, respectful treatment of children’s mothers; parenting stress, anger and emotional dysregulation, ability to identify the impact of their aggressive and abusive behavior on their children, and child-centredness. Interview data confirms that men enjoy the program and refer to using tools and ideas from the program to improve their parenting. Interviews with men also find that shifts in men’s attitudes and treatment of children’s mothers is more difficult can lag behind changes in parenting. Reports from mothers and children show that participation in Caring Dads is associated with reduction in men’s use of domestic violence, emotional dysregulation and exposure of children to adult conflict. Interviews confirm these findings but also point to the importance of the coordinated management that is built into Caring Dads to ensure appropriate response to the minority of fathers who are not making change or who quick return to the “old ways” after the program.
Scott, K. L. & Lishak, V. (2012). Evaluation of an intervention program for maltreating fathers: Statistically and clinically significant change. Child Abuse and Neglect, 36(9), 680-684.
McCracken, K. & Deave, T. (2012) Evaluation of the Caring Dads Cymru Programme. Merthyr Tydfil, Wales: Welsh Government Social Research.
Hood, R., Lindsay, J. & Muleya, W. (2014) Evaluation of Caring Dads: a single site evaluation in an urban local authority: interim report. London: Faculty of Health, Social Care & Education, Kingston University and St George’s, University of London. http://eprints.kingston.ac.uk/id/eprint/29990
Kaur, R. & Frost, N. (2014, unpublished) Caring Dads: Helping Fathers Value Their Children. Evaluation of a Pilot Study in Leeds.
McConnell, N., Barnard, M., Holdsworth, T. and Taylor, J. (2016) Caring Dads: Safer Children: evaluation report. [London]: NSPCC
McConnell, N., Cotmore, R., Hunter, D., and Taylor, J. (2016) Caring Dads: Safer Children: learning from delivering the programme. London: NSPCC.
McConnell, N., and Taylor, J. (2016) Evaluating Programmes for Violent Fathers: Challenges and Ethical Review. Child Abuse Rev., 25: 183–191
Koch, Marlene; Liel, Christoph & Eickhorst, Andreas (2017): Arbeit mit Vätern zur Prävention von Kindesmisshandlung. Eine Pilotevaluation des Caring Dads Programms in Deutschland. [Working with fathers to prevent child maltreatment. A Pilot evaluation of the Caring Dads Program in Germany.] Munich: National Centre on Early Prevention.
Diemer, K., Humphreys, C. Fogden, L., Gallant, T, Spiteri-Staines, A. Bornemissa, A. & Varcoe, E. (2020). Caring Dads program, Helping fathers value their children: Three site independent evaluation 2017-2020. Final Report. University of Melbourne.
Jenney, A. & Scott, K. The provision of specialty DV parenting intervention within child protection settings: outcomes and practice applications. IFSW 2020 Conference (online).https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxpyxP4z9fs&feature=youtu.be
Posted July 15, 2020 with 69 views to date.
Evaluations of Caring Dad that have used experimental designs
Conducting experimental and quasi-experimental evaluations of interventions for vulnerable populations is challenging as outcomes need to be compared to a group of families who are either randomly assigned to not receive intervention (experimental) or who do not receive intervention for another reason (often because they are on a waitlist). So far, Caring Dads has been evaluated in a quasi-experimental manner, against a waitlisted control group. Results have found that fathers who complete the program, as compared to those who have not, show significant reductions in subsequent domestic violence and child maltreatment, as reported by children’s mothers and in child protection re-referral records. Our most recent study, completed in collaboration with the Child Welfare Institute at CAST, we explored outcomes associated with care and recidivism. We found that, in 11 cases, three in the intervention group (3.6%) and eight in the comparison group (8.1%), children within the family were taken into permanent care of the state, a difference that was non-significant across groups (mostly as a result of very low numbers). Re-referral outcomes, examined for all files where ongoing father-child contact was legally and practically possible (i.e., children were not in protective custody and had not definitely ended contact with their fathers), rates of verified re-referral rates among fathers who completed intervention were significantly and substantially lower (20.5% of cases) than that for the comparison group (36.0%).
Scott, K., Dubov, V., Devine, C., Colquhoun, C., Hoffelner, C., Niki, I., Webb, S. & Goodman, D. (2021). Caring dads intervention for fathers who have perpetrated abuse within their families: quasi-experimental evaluation of child protection outcomes over two years. Child Abuse & Neglect, 120, 105204.
McConnell, N., Barnard, M., & Taylor, J. (2017). Caring Dads Safer Children: Families’ perspectives on an intervention for maltreating fathers. Psychology of violence, 7(3), 406.
Yes – There are Caring Dads groups running around the world including, Canada, USA, United Kingdom, Germany, Estonia, Lativa, Slovenia, New Zealand and Australia
Please see our “Find a Group” page on our website for a full listing of Caring Dads Providers: https://caringdads.org/for-dads
Rated/Reviewed by Evidence Based Registries:
Training & Resources
Scott K., Francis K., Crooks, C, Kelly T. 2018, 3rd edition. Caring Dads: Helping fathers value their children. Victoria, BC: Trafford Publishing.
Theory manual and Mother Contact manual, currently available upon request.
Yes – both in person and virtual trainings available, please see website for more information www.caringdads.org
Dr. Katreena Scott
Katreena Scott is a Professor, Clinical Psychologist, and Incoming Director of the Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children at Western University. London, Ontario, Canada.