The involvement of fathers and paternal family members is critical to a child's growth and development. Historically, child welfare agencies have not been effective in involving fathers in the family work that is needed to achieve safety, permanency, and well-being.
Increasingly, agencies are focusing on ways to engage and involve fathers and paternal family members, creating greater opportunities for them to be connected in a number of important ways that benefit their children. The following resources address father and paternal family member engagement and include State and local examples.
Bringing Back the Dads: Changing Practices in Child Welfare Systems (PDF - 1,505 KB)
Protecting Children, 26(2), 2011
Presents lessons learned from child welfare researchers and practitioners from across the nation from the National Quality Improvement Center on Non-Resident Fathers and the Child Welfare System.
Change Initiative Exemplar Resources Summary: Father Engagement in Child Welfare (PDF - 216 KB)
National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (2010)
Lists indicators of effective father engagement in child welfare in the areas of leadership and organizational philosophy, program management, policies and procedures, parent-involvement program, physical environment of the program, staff training and professional development, collaboration and organizational networking, and community outreach.
Engaging Noncustodial Fathers in Child Welfare Cases: A Guide for Children's Attorneys and Lawyer Guardians ad Litem (PDF - 4,198 KB)
Pilnik & Kendall (2010)
National Quality Improvement Center on Non-Resident Fathers and the Child Welfare System
Offers practice tips to identify and engage nonresident fathers in child clients' cases while keeping the child's best interests at the forefront.
Father Involvement—Meeting CFSR Standards (PDF - 371 KB)
National Family Preservation Network (2010)
Helps child welfare agencies improve their father involvement policies, practices, and outcomes through assessment, staff training, and cultural change. The document includes a father-friendliness organizational self-assessment tool.
The Importance of Fatherhood in Home Visiting (PDF - 977 KB)
Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy (2012)
Notes recent research that provides strong evidence for the inclusion of fathers in the home visiting process and its positive impact on the health and well-being of young children and new fathers. The issue brief also lists examples of how programs have successfully engaged fathers.
Learning Resources for Father Engagement
North Carolina Division of Social Services, Children's Services Statewide Training Partnership (2013)
Training Matters, 14(2)
Provides social workers in North Carolina with resources highlighting the benefits of healthy father involvement in promoting child development, tools for engaging nonresident fathers, and suggestions for conducting interviews with fathers.
National Fatherhood Initiative
Equips fathers, organizations, and the media with information on educating and engaging the public so that children can grow up with involved, responsible, and committed fathers.
Summary of State Statutes on Non-Resident Father Notification, Identification and Engagement in Child Welfare
National Conference of State Legislatures (2010)
Summarizes legislation in approximately 21 States related to involving nonresident fathers in child welfare. The legislation addresses issues such as timeframes, due diligence, unknown or absent fathers, and more.
Creating Best Practices for Effective Visitation Between Children and Birth Fathers (PDF - 2,621 KB)
Common Ground (New England Association of Child Welfare Commissioners and Directors), 24(2), 2009
Highlights an initiative by the Nashua New Hampshire Division of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) District Office to facilitate visiting between children in out-of-home placements and birth fathers and mothers within 24 hours of removal and to involve the children in deciding with whom they want to visit.
Father Engagement (PDF - 90 KB)
Iowa Department of Human Services (2008)
Explains expectations for caseworkers to engage fathers in the child welfare system and provides key considerations and strategies for involving fathers in every phase of the case, including assessment, case planning, and case closure.
Identifying, Interviewing, and Intervening: Fathers and the Illinois Child Welfare System (PDF - 961 KB)
Smithgall, DeCoursey, Gitlow, Yang, Jarpe-Ratner, Lansing, & Goerge (2009)
Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago
Discusses the Illinois Integrated Assessment with respect to implications for ongoing efforts by the child welfare system to engage fathers and effectively deliver or arrange services that address fathers' needs and improve child and family well-being.