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May 2008Vol. 9, No. 4Benefits of Involving Nonresident Fathers

A recent study examined how father involvement affects permanency outcomes for children in foster care. The study is a follow-up of a 2006 study of child welfare agencies' efforts to locate and involve nonresident fathers in their children's cases. Based on interviews with more than 1,000 workers who spoke about 1,958 specific cases, the original study found that many fathers are easily located and are interested in being part of their children's lives.

At the time of the 2006 study, fathers in 55 percent of the cases had been in contact with someone at the child welfare agency after their children entered foster care. In the recent study, these fathers were classified according to three levels of involvement with their children, and involvement levels were compared to child outcomes. Results attest to the potential benefits of nonresident father involvement:

  • Nonresident fathers' greater involvement with their children was associated with a higher likelihood of a reunification outcome and a lower likelihood of an adoption outcome.
  • Children with highly involved fathers left foster care more quickly than children whose fathers were less involved.
  • Among children with reunification outcomes, those with highly involved fathers had a substantially lower likelihood of maltreatment recurrence compared to reunified children with uninvolved fathers.

More About the Dads: Exploring Associations Between Nonresident Father Involvement and Child Welfare Case Outcomes, by Karin Malm, Erica Zielewski, and Henry Chen, was prepared by the Urban Institute and released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), with funding from the Children's Bureau. It is available on the ASPE website:

Related Items

  • The 2006 study on nonresident father involvement was covered by Children's Bureau Express in "Nonresident Fathers and the Child Welfare System" (July/August 2006).
  • For more information about nonresident fathers, visit the website of the Children's Bureau's National Quality Improvement Center on Non-Resident Fathers and the Child Welfare System at