Father “involvement” often refers to bringing fathers into the program to participate in different activities. It also refers to helping fathers become more involved in child rearing and in their child’s life. Father “engagement” includes participation and child rearing but goes a step further.  

Father engagement means making a commitment to a partnership. Engagement is rooted in positive relationships. With involvement, there is an emphasis on being present. With engagement, there is a focus on creating and sustaining ongoing relationships.  The intent is to support families and to benefit children’s learning and development. 

In Head Start, father engagement means that fathers and staff work as partners to promote the child’s best interest, to exchange knowledge about the child, and to share in program governance. They also work together to establish child and family goals that are motivating and fulfilling.