Developing an Effective Intervention for Incarcerated Teen Fathers – The Baby Elmo Program

Published On: May 1, 2012


The absence of a father figure has been linked to very poor developmental outcomes. The Baby Elmo Program, a parenting and structured visitation program, aims to form and maintain bonds between children and their
incarcerated teen fathers. The program is taught and supervised by probation staff in juvenile detention facilities. This intervention is based on building a relationship between the teen and his child, rather than on increasing the teen’s abstract parenting knowledge. Because the intervention is conducted in the context of parent–child visits, it fosters
hands-on learning and increases the opportunity for contact between these young fathers and their children, a
benefit in itself. An evaluation of the program indicated improvements in quality of interactions and communication; this increase in the interactional quality of the relationship increases the likelihood that the father and child will form and maintain a positive relationship.

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