- April 2012
- Vol. 13, No. 3
Bringing Back the Dads
A 2011 special issue of American Humane's Protecting Children is dedicated to father engagement and features a variety of articles addressing issues facing nonresident fathers involved with the child welfare system. Practitioners and researchers share lessons learned from the National Quality Improvement Center on Non-Resident Fathers (QIC-NRF), a Children's Bureau-funded project geared toward determining the impact of increased nonresident father engagement on the safety, permanency, and well-being of their children involved in the child welfare system.
The article "Fathers' Voices in the Child Welfare System: Not About Us Without Us," by Ron J. Clark and Greg Cox, explores strides taken by the QIC-NRF to include the voices of fathers when building intervention programs aimed at fathers. Conceptually simple, the author notes that nonresident fathers are often viewed as apathetic to the needs of their children involved in the child welfare system rather than as individuals dealing with their own challenges. The QIC-NRF established the National Fathers Advisory Council (NFAC) to foster a culture shift and move away from the punitive-only approach to serving fathers, change perceptions, and incorporate fathers' voices in developing support services. The group met six times during the 5-year grant period, and Local Fathers Advisory Councils were later formed near demonstration sites.
The issue also includes a spotlight on Colorado's Promoting Responsible Fatherhood Initiative (PRF), which funded 63 faith- and community-based organizations over 5 years to provide direct services to fathers—serving approximately 5,000 fathers. The PRF program also facilitated fatherhood training. While each site operated under core requirements, they were permitted flexibility to meet the needs of local, diverse populations. The article highlights the program's core collaborative elements, public awareness campaign efforts that raised program visibility, strategies to involve caseworkers such as the online fatherhood engagement portal, and participant success stories.
Other articles highlight promising child welfare casework and legal and judicial best practices.
The special issue of Protecting Children, 26(2),"Bringing Back the Dads: Changing Practice's in Child Welfare Systems," is available on the American Humane website:
http://www.americanhumane.org/assets/pdfs/children/fatherhood/pc262.pdf (1.47 MB)
In 2011, CBX featured a number of articles about site visits to the QIC-NRF demonstration sites. Check them out:
- "Site Visit: Engaging Fathers Project in Indiana," September/October 2011
- "Site Visit: Nonresident Fathers in the El Paso, CO, Child Welfare System," July/August 2011
- "Site Visit: Engaging Nonresident Fathers in Texas," March 2011
- "Site Visit: Fathers Engagement Project in Washington," February 2011