Office of Epidemiology and Research, Division of Research

Advancing Applied MCH Research

(SDAS) The Direct and Indirect Effects of Father Involvement on Maternal and Child Well Being in Families of Children with Disabilities

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Project Number: R40 MC 11276-01
Grantee: University of Illinois
Department/Center: Human & Community Development
Project Date: 2/1/2009

Final Report

(SDAS) The Direct and Indirect Effects of Father Involvement on Maternal and Child Well Being in Families of Children with Disabilities Final Report (PDF) Exit Disclaimer

Principal Investigator

Brent McBride, Ph.D.
904 West Nevada Street
Urbana, IL  61801
Phone: 217-333-0971


  • Women/Maternal
  • Perinatal/Infancy (0-12 months)
  • Toddlerhood (13-35 months)
  • Early Childhood (3-5 years)


Purpose: Although a rapidly growing body of research has documented the impact of father involvement with typically developing children, little is known about how men approach parenting children with disabilities, and how their involvement impacts child, mother and family well-being. The objective of this proposed project will be to take advantage of the data available in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study - Birth Cohort (ECLS-B) dataset in order to examine the roles fathers play in families of children with disabilities. The following two research questions will be addressed in the study: 1.What is the trajectory of father involvement over time and how does this trajectory differ for families of children with and without disabilities? 2. What are the direct and indirect effects of father involvement on maternal and child well-being in families of children with disabilities, and does such involvement mediate and/or moderate the negative impact of having a child with a disability on maternal and child outcomes? This proposed study addresses MCHB Strategic Research Issue #IV (Promoting the healthy development of MCH populations) by examining the health and developmental processes of children with disabilities, and identifying the roles played by fathers in these families in reducing the potential negative impact of childhood disabilities on maternal and child outcomes. Findings from this study will generate a knowledge base that will contribute to the development and evaluation of interventions that improve father involvement and ultimately lead to improved maternal and child outcomes in families of children with disabilities. Methods/Design: The proposed project will conduct secondary data analysis with the ECLS-B dataset. The ECLS-B is a nationally representative, longitudinal dataset of approximately 14,000 children born in 2001. To date, information for this dataset has been collected from mothers, fathers, teachers and child care providers when the children were 9 months, 2 years and 4 years of age. Included in the ECLS-B is data from approximately 8,392 residential fathers and 2,198 non-residential fathers. Data in the ECLS-B provides extensive information on child development and family functioning, is gathered from multiple sources (e.g., children, their parents, their child care providers), and includes multiple data collection formats (e.g., survey questionnaires, parent interviews, direct child assessments). A subset of ECLS-B children with disabilities and/or developmental delays will be identified for use in the analyses. The conceptual framework guiding this study proposes that child developmental status has a direct influence on mothering, fathering, co-parenting, and maternal well-being that in turn have a direct influence on child outcomes. Within this framework fathering is hypothesized to have a direct impact on child outcomes, while at the same time acting as a mediator and/or moderator of the influence of child developmental status on maternal outcomes (e.g., quality of maternal parenting, maternal depression, maternal stress). Fathering is also hypothesized to moderate relationships between the levels of mother variables and child outcomes. Structural equation modeling techniques (e.g., latent variable growth curve modeling, general growth mixture modeling) will be used in order to capitalize on the longitudinal nature of the ECLS-B data.


Listed is descending order by year published.

McBride BA, Dyer WJ, Laxman DJ. Father involvement and student achievement: variations based on ecological contexts. Early Child Development and Care. 2012;52, 1-17.

Dyer WJ, McBride BA, Jeans LM. A longitudinal examination of father involvement with children with developmental delays: does timing of diagnosis matter? J Early Interv. 2009 Jun;31(3),265-81.

McBride BA, Dyer WJ, Liu Y, Brown GL, Hong S. The differential impact of early father and mother involvement on later student achievement. J Educ Psych. 2009 May;101(2):498-508.


Developmental Disabilities, Parenting, Fathers, Depression, Stress, Mental Health & Wellbeing, Special Health Care Needs

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