Resources on Engaging Fathers
A Guide for Father Involvement in Systems of Care
Published by the Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health, this guide focuses on the importance of fathers’ involvement in systems of care. It provides information about the importance of fathers in the lives of their children, identifies potential consequences if fathers are not involved, and offers systems and families strategies for helping fathers become more involved. The guide is divided into twelve sections: (1) Where Are the Dads?; (2) How Does a Father’s Presence or Absence Affect His Children?; (3) Why is Inclusion of Fathers Important in Systems of Care?; (4) Systems of Care Should Infuse Fathers’ Involvement in All Core Dimensions; (5) Fatherhood and Culture; (6) Young Fathers; (7) Grandfathers; (8) Fathers in Families with Child Welfare Involvement; (9) Dads Involved with Substance Abuse; (10) Incarcerated Dads; (11) Dads Who Are Gay and Fathers of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender (LGBT) Children; and (12) Resources. (April 2013)
- Children’s Bureau Express: Father Engagement
This issue of Children’s Bureau Express spotlights “Engaging Fathers” and the importance of fathers and paternal relatives in the lives of children involved with the child welfare system. Highlighted articles focus on federally funded efforts to study and promote father involvement, as well as promising practices from the field. Children's Bureau Express is designed for professionals concerned with child abuse and neglect, child welfare, and adoption. Children's Bureau Express is supported by the Children's Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and published by Child Welfare Information Gateway. (June 2010)
- Rise Magazine: Fathers’ Rights and Roles
Children do better when their fathers are involved in raising them, yet child welfare systems have been slow to include fathers in family support services or case planning. It can be difficult for fathers with children in care to access legal representation and appropriate services. In this issue of Rise Magazine, parents write about the steps fathers can take to protect and support their children. Rise magazine is written by and for parents involved in the child welfare system. Its mission is to help parents advocate for themselves and their children. (Spring 2009)
- Father Friendly Checkup for Child Welfare Agencies and Organizations
The “Father Friendly Checkup for Child Welfare Agencies and Organizations” by The National Quality Improvement Center on Non-Resident Fathers and the Child Welfare System, National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI), American Humane Association, and American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law, was developed to help organizations assess how well they welcome and encourage fathers in several areas. (2008)
- The Importance of Fathers in the Healthy Development of Children
From the Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, this guide is for child welfare workers to help fathers have a positive impact on their children's lives. It is the first guide for professionals that focuses specifically on how they can more effectively engage fathers whose children come to the attention of the child welfare system. (2006)
- Fatherhood Lessons
This practical toolkit from the National Latino Fatherhood and Family Institute offers guidelines and interventions to consider when constructing culturally relevant fatherhood programs. (2003)
- Meeting CFSR Standards Guide (Father Involvement)
The benefits of father involvement in the lives of children have been well-established. However, child welfare agencies continue to struggle with implementing father involvement policies and practice. All states are required to participate in the federal Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSR) that measure outcomes in child welfare agencies. While there is no specific measure for father involvement, there are four relevant proxies under a Child Well-Being Outcome. The National Family Preservation Network (NPFN) has developed this guide to help child welfare agencies to improve their practice and outcomes on father involvement.
Resources for Fathers
- IFPS Guide to Father Involvement
This resource from the National Family Preservation Network provides a framework and best practice for Intensive Family Preservation Services (IFPS) therapists to engage and involve fathers in their children's lives. While designed primarily for the brief, intensive services of IFPS, NFPN believes that the content is applicable to all short-term services. It may be applicable to longer-term services as well, because studies show that involving fathers generally occurs early in the provision of services or not at all. The IFPS Guide includes: current state of father involvement based on the most recent findings and surveys; examining the therapist's perspective; explaining to mothers the benefits of father involvement; assessing the father's level of involvement; addressing the two main issues that underlie a father's reluctance to become involved; a six-week work plan for father involvement; and, an interview with a mom. This resource can assist and encourage your agency staff to do more to involve fathers in their children's lives. Please note that the IFPS Guide does not replace training on father involvement. (2012)
- Ten Ways to Be a Better Dad (Available in English and Spanish)
This tip sheet is from the Strengthening Families and Communities: 2011 Resource Guide, produced annually by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Children's Bureau, Office on Child Abuse and Neglect, Child Welfare Information Gateway, and the FRIENDS National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention. It lists 10 concrete ways that fathers can enhance their involvement in their children’s lives. (2011)
- Finding Your Way: Guides for Fathers in Child Protection Cases
This series of guides from American Bar Association and American Humane Association can help fathers prepare for court hearings or meetings. It provides general information, not legal advice. Case-specific or legal questions should be directed to a lawyer or caseworker. Includes the following guides, which are available in English and Spanish (2011):
- Guide 1: Your Rights and Responsibilities
- Guide 2: How to Work with Your Lawyer
- Guide 3: Your Role in Court
- 3.1: The Court Process
- 3.2: Who Will Be in Court
- 3.3: Common Court Terms
- Guide 4: Your Role Outside Court
- Guide 5: When You Owe Child Support
- Guide 6: If You Are or Have Been in Prison
(Scroll to bottom of webpage under section "For Fathers.")
Resources for Attorneys, Judges, and CASA Volunteers
- Engaging Fathers in Child Protection Cases by Understanding Male Help-Seeking and Learning Styles
Judicial officers can help better engage fathers by understanding how men seek help and learn differently from women. They can also encourage the child welfare agency to work with fathers as often as mothers, offer services geared toward men’s learning styles, and work as hard to find and engage fathers as mothers. This judicial bench card from the National Quality Improvement Center on Non-Resident Fathers and the Child Welfare System provides suggestions and information to support judicial offers in these efforts. (2011)
- Engaging Nonresident Fathers in Child Welfare Cases: A Guide for Court Appointed Special Advocates
This practice brief was produced by the National Quality Improvement Center on Non-Resident Fathers and the Child Welfare System (QIC NRF). It offers CASA volunteers a new tool to advocate on behalf of children –- reaching out to their fathers. It provides tips on identifying and locating the fathers of children who enter the child welfare system and helps CASA volunteers assess fathers’ capacities to be a placement or other resource for their children. CASA volunteers will learn how to involve paternal relatives in case planning and recognize how fathers learn and seek help differently than do mothers. (2010)
- Checklists for Lawyers and Judges on Representing and Engaging Non-Resident Fathers in Child Welfare Court Cases
National Quality Improvement Center on Non-Resident Fathers and the Child Welfare System has prepared a number of checklists for advocating for nonresident fathers in child welfare court cases (2009):
Research, Studies, and Reports
- Identifying, Interviewing, and Intervening: Fathers and the Illinois Child Welfare System
In this Chapin Hall study, researchers examine the extent to which fathers--stepfathers, putative fathers, legal fathers, adoptive fathers, or biological fathers--were interviewed as a part of the Illinois Integrated Assessment (IA) process and the factors associated with fathers being interviewed. The information in the IA reports provides rich descriptions of the complex circumstances and family roles of fathers. Findings from the study suggest the importance of engaging fathers early in the assessment process; however, sustaining that engagement through services and interventions warrants further attention. (2009)
- Elements of Promising Practice in Programs Serving Fathers Involved in the Criminal Justice System
Between 1991 and 1999, the percentage of children with an incarcerated father increased by 58 percent. There is more interest in developing programs that specifically address the needs of fathers in the criminal justice system. A National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse brief authored by Child Trends, "What Works" in Programs Serving Fathers Involved in the Criminal Justice System? Lessons from Evidence-Based Evaluations, identifies eight common features of "model" programs for fathers involved in the criminal justice system. (August 2008)
- More About the Dads
This study from the Urban Institute follows up the one listed above. It finds that having an involved father is associated with shorter case length and a greater likelihood of reunification, though it is only modestly related to subsequent allegations of maltreatment. (March 2008)
- Ten Key Findings from Responsible Fatherhood Initiatives
This brief from the Urban Institute provides ten key lessons from several important early responsible fatherhood initiatives that were developed and implemented during the 1990s and early 2000s. Formal evaluations of these earlier fatherhood efforts have been completed making this an opportune time to step back and assess what has been learned and how to build on the early programs' successes and challenges. (February 2008)
- What About the Dads? Child Welfare Agencies' Efforts to Identify, Locate, and Involve Nonresident Fathers
This study describes the extent to which child welfare agencies identify, locate, and involve nonresident fathers in case decision making and permanency. It looks at policies and practices for involving nonresident fathers of foster children in casework and permanency planning; various methods used by local agencies to identify fathers of children in foster care, establish paternity, and locate nonresident fathers; challenges to involvement, including characteristics and circumstances that may be constraints and worker opinions of nonresident fathers; practices and initiatives that may increase father involvement; and how child support agencies' information resources may assist child welfare agencies to identify and locate nonresident fathers. (April 2006)
Resources from the States
- North Carolina
Father Involvement in Child Welfare
The December 2005 issue of "Children's Services Practice Notes" examines ways that practitioners and their agencies can improve the way they work with fathers. Practice Notes is sponsored by the N.C. Division of Social Services and produced by the Family and Children's Resource Program, part of the Jordan Institute for Families at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Social Work. (December 2005)
- Engaging Absent Fathers
This online curriculum is available from the Pennsylvania Child Welfare Training Program. It includes pre-work resources, curriculum, handouts, overheads, and videos.
- Advocating for Non-Resident Fathers in Child Welfare Court Cases Curriculum
Lawyers representing non-resident fathers face a range of complex legal and factual challenges. This 2009 curriculum by the National Quality Improvement Center on Non-Resident Fathers and the Child Welfare System at American Bar Association was designed to provide guidance to lawyers on how to navigate issues affecting fathers and their children involved in child welfare proceedings. It provides practical strategies to parents’ attorneys who represent non-resident fathers who are often not the perpetrator of abuse or neglect. It is based upon a series of articles commissioned by the QIC NRF and that appear in the book "Advocating for Fathers in Child Welfare Court Cases." (2009)
- Working with African American Fathers: The Forgotten Parent (Trainer Guide and Trainee Guide)
The goals of this curriculum are to provide an experiential learning event on the historical relevance and current impacts of slavery on African-American fathers; to develop an awareness of biases against African-American fathers by Child Welfare social workers and their agencies; to present solutions to the systemic biases against African-American fathers within Child Welfare; and to value the application of principles of Fairness and Equity and associated skills and strategies in working with other culturally diverse families within child welfare systems. (November 2009)
Teleconferences, Webcasts, and Web-Conferences
- Engaging Fathers in Child Welfare
Engaging fathers was selected as the topic for this NRCPFC teleconference because, according to the CFSR, across the nation, child welfare agencies still struggle with locating fathers and engaging and involving them in their children’s lives and in the case planning process. Fathers play unique and important roles in their children’s lives; therefore, maintaining contact and strengthening the father-child bond should be a priority. The objectives of this session were: To introduce ways to use the “voice of fathers” within the child welfare system to understand their experiences, needs, and desire to be part of their children’s lives; To provide tools to assess the child welfare agency’s readiness to engage non-custodial fathers in participating in team meetings, case planning, accessing services, and reunification; To provide new tools for assessing worker bias regarding working with non-custodial fathers. The audio recording of the teleconference, PowerPoint Presentation, handouts, and additional resources are available online. (July 2011)
- Engaging Fathers in Child Welfare Web Conference
On February 25, 2011, The Public Child Welfare Training Academy (PCWTA), a project of the Academy for Professional Excellence and San Diego State University, presented a 90-minute web conference on Engaging Fathers in Child Welfare. The web conference featured Mr. Randy A. Jenkins, MSW, a national expert on Engaging Fathers in Child Welfare and Consultant to the NRCPFC, and Father Panelists Jeffrey Mays and Gerald Howard. The training focused on the National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections (NRCPFC) values and goals of father engagement; father engagement and assessment; stories of non-custodial fathers in the child welfare system; discussion of the results of a group study of social workers who have engaged fathers; and discussion of focus group results of fathers who have been engaged by social workers. (2011)
- Bringing Back the Dads: Father Engagement
Father involvement is critical to providing positive outcomes of safety, permanency, and well being for their children in the child welfare system. This NRCPFC teleconference, recorded on March 10, 2010, informs best practices related to the engagement of fathers and the paternal family in the public child welfare system. Presenters shared research and practice experiences, and discussed non-resident fathers and the legal system; fathers also shared their personal experiences with the child welfare system. You can listen to the audio of the teleconference, and access handouts including the agenda and presenters’ contact information, a bibliography, a PowerPoint presentation, and many other relevant materials. (March 2010)
- National Quality Improvement Center on Non-Resident Fathers and the Child Welfare System
The purpose of this project is to determine, through a research design, the impact of non-resident father involvement on child welfare outcomes. Child welfare outcomes include child safety, permanence and well-being. Included in this design is the examination of the relationship between child and non-resident fathers or paternal relatives. Throughout the five years of this project, information gained from the QIC-NRF will be disseminated to the Children’s Bureau, sub-grantees, child welfare agencies, private service providers, the courts and legal systems, and other stakeholders.
- National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse
The NRFC supports the Administration for Children and Families' Office of Family Assistance's efforts to assist States and communities to promote and support Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Marriage. Primarily a tool for professionals operating Responsible Fatherhood programs, the NRFC provides access to print and electronic publications, timely information on fatherhood issues, and targeted resources that support OFA-funded Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Marriage grantees. The NRFC Web site also provides essential information for other audiences interested in fatherhood issues.
- US Department of Health and Human Services, Promoting Responsible Fatherhood
The Promoting Responsible Fatherhood Initiative's purpose is to promote responsible fatherhood by funding programs that support healthy marriage activities, promote responsible parenting, and foster economic stability. The initiative will enable fathers to improve their relationships and reconnect with their children. It will help fathers overcome obstacles and barriers that often prevent them from being the most effective and nurturing parent possible. While the primary goal of the initiative is to promote fatherhood in all of its various forms, an essential point is to encourage fatherhood within the context of marriage. On the website, there are resources on: Effective Parenting, Economic Stability, Access, Visitation, Paternity, & Child Support; Incarceration; Research, Evaluation, & Data; Program Development; and other topics.
- National Fatherhood Initiative
Founded in 1994, NFI seeks to lead a society-wide movement to confront the problem of father absence. Their mission is to improve the well-being of children by increasing the proportion of children growing up with involved, responsible, and committed fathers.
- Center for Family Policy and Practice
CFFPP is a nationally-focused public policy organization conducting policy research, technical assistance, training, litigation and public education in order to focus attention on the barriers faced by never-married, low-income fathers and their families.
- National Center on Fathers and Families (NCOFF)
NCOFF was established in 1994 at the Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania with core support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. An interdisciplinary policy research center, NCOFF is dedicated to research and practice that expands the knowledge base on father involvement and family development, and that informs policy designed to improve the well-being of children.
- The National Latino Fatherhood and Family Institute
The National Latino Fatherhood and Family Institute brings together nationally recognized leaders in the fields of Latino health, education, social services, and community outreach. Their mission is to build upon Latino cultural strengths and traditions and offer a path for men of all ages to become Un Hombre Noble, or a Noble man.
- Center for Urban Families
Center for Urban Families (CFUF) utilizes an integrated approach to connecting men and women to career paths and strong family models. Central to CFUF’s mission is the belief that men—the most disconnected and underserved citizens in urban communities—who connect with women, their children, and the workplace are key to the restoration of stability and optimism. CFUF Family & Fatherhood Programs includeCouples Advancing Together and Baltimore Responsible Fatherhood Project.