Fathers play an important role in child development, whether or not they reside with their children. However, an increasing number of children from all socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds are growing up without a father in the home. The authors describe strategies that mental health and social work professionals can use to support the participation of noncustodial fathers in the lives of their children. Specific considerations for divorced fathers, nonresidential fathers who never married their children's mother, and teen fathers are highlighted. The text describes the emotional experiences of fathers and mothers that should inform practice. Emphasis is placed on strengths-based, collaborative interventions with fathers who are motivated to change. A multicultural perspective also is recommended to address differences in race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, and socioeconomic status. Practice principles promote a broad definition of father involvement; respect fathers' parental role and identity; utilize a culturally sensitive approach to intervention; and offer multiple services within a holistic perspective. In addition, professionals should help fathers develop a cooperative relationship with the mother of their children and with the court system. Fathers should be aware of their rights and responsibilities and understand the benefit of marriage for the well-being of the children. The authors review assessment issues and approaches for individual, family, and group treatment and provide examples of policy initiatives that promote active father involvement. Strategies for mediating co-parenting agreements are outlined. The appendix includes a list of fathers' organizations and web sites. Numerous references, 4 figures, 3 tables.
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