The purpose of this study was to fill a gap in our knowledge regarding father involvement in informal kinship care and its impact on the emotional and behavioral wellbeing of children in care. Although this study was neither exclusively a fatherhood nor a child welfare study, it has the potential to contribute to the knowledge base of each area. The study was guided by the principles of family systems theory, which highlight the interconnectedness of family members and the ways in which family interactions impact individual wellbeing. This study specifically explored the relationship between two dimensions of father involvement, father-child contact and father-child relationship quality. These outcomes were specifically in relation to children living in informal kinship care for whom both biological parents have maintained some type of relationship with the child and kinship caregiver. The study’s hypotheses predicted that both father-child contact and father-child relationship quality would be inversely related to children’s internalizing and externalizing behaviors when controlling for factors that significantly predicted internalizing and externalizing behaviors in previous studies. Sub-hypotheses further predicted that mother-child, caregiver-mother, caregiver-father, and caregiver-child relationships would moderate the relationship between the two dimensions of father involvement and internalizing and externalizing behaviors. In addition, it was hypothesized that child’s gender, father’s residential status and whether or not the caregiver was a maternal or paternal relative would each serve as moderating variables. The GEE models, which tested these relationships, suggests that the both hypotheses were partially supported. Implications for social work practice, policy, education and research are discussed. (Author abstract)
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