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May 2012Vol. 13 No. 4Optimizing Father-Child Visits

The National Family Preservation Network (NFPN) is conducting a reunification study that examines necessary factors for successfully reuniting children and families. As part of this initiative, the NFPN, with funding from the National Quality Improvement Center for Non-Resident Fathers (QIC NRF), produced a resource document focused on best practices for father-child visits in child welfare cases. The white paper provides a research summary on the importance of parent-child visits; outlines the differences between fathers' and mothers' parenting techniques and approaches to communication; documents results from a survey of perspectives from fathers in the child welfare system; and presents best practices. 

Research suggests that best practice begins at the top with administration and trickles down to frontline practice. The paper provides a number of strategies for agencies looking to improve father-child visits. According to the document, agency administrators must:

  • Conduct father friendly assessments of their agency to determine current policies, practices, and perceptions regarding fathers
  • Take steps to make agencies father friendly
  • Provide training to child welfare workers on the different styles of communication and parenting of mothers and fathers, the importance of father involvement, and skill-building for working with fathers
  • Enact policies that treat mothers and fathers equally
  • Provide father-locator resources for workers and mandate that fathers be contacted when cases are opened
  • Provide male staff to make initial contact with fathers
  • Set standards and protocols for father-child visits
  • Coordinate with other relevant agencies to guarantee that fathers are active in case planning and visits
  • Work to connect fathers with local fatherhood support groups

Best Practice for Father-Child Visits in the Child Welfare System is available on the National Family Preservation Network's website: