Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

September 2021Vol. 22, No. 8Piloting Continuous Learning to Engage Fathers and Paternal Relatives in Child Welfare

When child welfare agencies successfully engage fathers in their children's cases, the agencies create a connection that can also improve children's outcomes.

The Fathers and Continuous Learning in Child Welfare (FCL) project used a methodology known as the Breakthrough Series Collaborative (BSC) to improve placement stability and permanency outcomes for children by engaging their fathers and paternal relatives. A BSC is a continuous-learning methodology developed by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement that is used to test and spread promising practices to help organizations improve in a focused topic area.

Six improvement teams representing five state or county child welfare agencies participated in the BSC. Throughout this BSC, each team identified, implemented, and studied a unique group of strategies to engage fathers and paternal relatives. Teams developed processes to collect, organize, and report data to gauge whether the engagement strategies were producing improvements on specified metrics. This pilot study report describes insights into the implementation of a BSC and potential strategies for increasing father and paternal relative engagement in child welfare.

After engaging in the BSC, improvement team members considered themselves more knowledgeable and identified cultural shifts and changes in their own behavior and the behavior of others in engaging fathers and paternal relatives. These changes were fueled by dedicating protected time and effort toward the BSC and staying deeply committed to engaging fathers and paternal relatives. 

Improvement team members reported that the BSC could be strengthened even more by increasing protected time away from the competing demands of daily work, getting stronger guidance from the BSC team on data collection and community partner engagement, and engaging staff other than those on the improvement team. All improvement teams planned to keep using elements of the BSC after it formally concluded. Work on father and paternal relative engagement will continue by drawing on the BSC experience, building successful engagement strategies identified through the process, relying on sustained leadership, and furthering the beginnings of a cultural shift.
To learn more about the FCL project and the BSC methodology, read the report, A Seat at the Table: Piloting Continuous Learning to Engage Fathers and Paternal Relatives in Child Welfare.