Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Child and Family Studies

Major Professor

Vey M. Nordquist

Committee Members

Sandra Twardosz, John Orme


Father involvement in child care and household routines has been associated with a number of positive maternal, child, and family outcomes, but largely for families of typically developing children. This contrasts sharply with the father involvement literature that pertains to families of young children with disabilities. Up until the mid 1990s, the extant research with families of typical children relied almost exclusively on maternal reports to assess the effects of father involvement on family members. It has only been in the last 15 years or so that fathers have been given opportunities to assess their involvement in child care and household routines. Studies of father involvement in this research area have focused almost exclusively on the involvement of fathers in early intervention and public school programs. The present study attempted to address each of these limitations by examining father involvement in child care and household routines in families of young children with special needs from the perspective of both mothers and fathers. A sample of 134 couples that currently or recently received services from Tennessee’s Early Intervention System participated in the Study. Mothers completed a rating scale comprised of different ways fathers provided assistance and support in the home. Fathers completed a different rating scale comprised of child care and household routines as well as child play activities. Each parent also indicated (yes/no) whether their child with special needs showed interest in adults using a number of different literacy materials as well as showing a direct interest in these same materials at least one time per week. The findings showed that the mother and father measures of father involvement were highly correlated and that mothers and fathers generally agreed on the occurrence of both literacy behaviors. Both father involvement measures significantly predicted the two literacy outcomes. Maternal education level did not affect the strength of the relationships between father reports of their involvement and the literacy outcomes but the level of family income did. Implications of the findings for future research and limitations of the study are discussed.

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