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May 2023Vol. 24, No. 4Fathers and Continuous Learning in Child Welfare Project Strives for Increased Father Engagement

The Fathers and Continuous Learning in Child Welfare (FCL) project is an effort to strengthen the engagement of fathers and other paternal relatives in child welfare and to increase the evidence base of promising father-engagement strategies.

Fathers have historically not been well engaged in child welfare services, despite research indicating that this type of engagement is beneficial to children. The FCL project aims to improve father and paternal relative engagement efforts using the Breakthrough Series Collaborative (BSC) methodology, which works to increase participation by reducing power differentials. Mathematica and the University of Denver. are conducting the project.

Project organizers recently conducted a descriptive study at five child welfare agencies between June 2021 and March 2023. The agencies serve Los Angeles, CA; Hartford and Manchester, CT; Denver, CO; Prowers County, CO; and Wake County, NC. Project organizers outlined the FCL descriptive study’s approach in an October 2022 design report. The following are the three main goals of the study:

  • To describe potentially promising strategies and approaches to engaging fathers and paternal relatives in the child welfare system
  • To assess the BSC as a continuous quality improvement framework for addressing challenges in the child welfare system
  • To assess the extent to which agencies experienced a shift in organizational culture after implementing the BSC

Data collection efforts included surveys of staff and partners, an analysis of program data, interviews with staff and community members, and focus groups with fathers and paternal relatives.

Project organizers plan to release a final report with findings from the study later in 2023. More information is available in the 2022 design report, Fathers and Continuous Learning in Child Welfare: Descriptive Evaluation Design Report.