Early childhood development: An examination of father presence

Laura A Augello, Pace University


The present study sought to expand on existing literature and examined the effect of father presence and the quality of the home environment on children's cognitive, language, and social-emotional development, utilizing data from the 36 month Early Head Start evaluation. This study was based on the theoretical model (Figure 1, p. 8) postulated by Yvonne Rafferty, Ph. D., that examined the impact of distal factors (e.g., child, maternal, and paternal characteristics), intermediate factors (e.g., maternal depression, stress, family conflict, discipline), and proximal factors (e.g., supportive parenting behaviors, home environment) on children's development (e.g., cognitive, language, social-emotional). The EHS program evaluation was based on data collected from 2,977 children and their families. Child and family demographic information was collected via maternal interviews and questionnaires at the time of enrollment in the EHS program. Information regarding fathers and father figures was also provided by maternal report. Children's cognitive, language, and social-emotional outcomes were assessed at 36 months utilizing developmental outcome measures (e.g., Bayley MDI and Behavior Rating Scales, Bayley, 1993; Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, Dunn & Dunn, 1997; Child Behavior Checklist, Achenbach, 2000). Overall, the present study demonstrated support for the proposed theoretical model of children's developmental outcomes. Families with a biological father present had higher levels of available family resources; more enriching home environments that promoted cognitive, language, and emotional development; lower levels of conflict among family members; lower levels of maternal stress and depression; and lower levels of children's aggressive behavior. Results suggested that having a biological father present in the household positively influences the quality of the home environment and children's development.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

Augello, Laura A, "Early childhood development: An examination of father presence" (2007). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3269821.



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