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February 2019Vol. 20, No. 1Integrating Approaches That Prioritize and Enhance Father Engagement

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced its commitment to making sure that fathers—including noncustodial caregivers—have the support they need. In October 2018, ACF released information memorandum (IM) ACF-ACF-IM-18-01, which emphasizes the importance of meaningful father engagement and details the efforts being made to make this priority happen and to enhance father engagement across ACF-funded programs.

A father's positive involvement in his child's life can lead to better outcomes. It builds a strong foundation for learning and success in school, reduces the risk of children and youth engaging in risky behaviors, and contributes to family stability and well-being, which can reduce the time a child spends in out-of-home care and keeps families together.

The IM describes how fatherhood programs are interwoven into the various ACF programs. For example, it highlights the use of Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention program funds in Washington, DC, to support a home visiting program for fathers as well as the Office of Family Assistance providing grant funding for responsible fatherhood activities to 36 organizations in order to develop father-child involvement skills and address barriers to involvement.

The IM showcases the following improved outcomes for children and families:

  • Father-infant play may help improve a child's social skills and stimulate cognitive
    competence during early development.
  • Fathers' economic contributions affect their children's health and development by allowing them to live in safer neighborhoods, have the support materials they need for school, and have lower levels of food insecurity.
  • Involved fathers can enhance family stability and well-being in general.

The IM is available at (529 KB).