The mission of the child welfare system is to promote the well-being of children by providing services to families that need assistance in protecting and caring for their children. If a report of suspected child abuse or neglect is received, an initial assessment is conducted to determine whether protective services are needed. This may lead to the development of a plan to provide services and support the family in the home, or may result in the temporary placement of the child outside the home with relatives or a foster family.
A large percentage of children who become engaged in the child welfare system do not live with their fathers. Although non-resident fathers can be a positive influence and provide needed resources to their children, they are not always identified or engaged in the child welfare process. Additionally, these fathers are often unfamiliar with the child welfare system and its processes.
The good news is that some state child welfare systems are becoming more focused on father involvement. As a result, responsible fatherhood programs now have more opportunities to help fathers and families involved in the child welfare system. For example, a fatherhood program might work with a local child welfare agency to:
- Help fathers better understand how the child welfare system works.
- Help child welfare staff identify, engage, and provide appropriate services for fathers of children involved in the child welfare system.
- Ensure that child welfare staff are aware of the fatherhood program’s services.
- Encourage child welfare staff to refer fathers to the fatherhood program.
This webinar discussed these possibilities and discuss the potential benefits of engaging non-resident fathers to help improve the safety and well-being of children and families in the child welfare system.
- LaRon Burris, Fathers Engagement Project, Washington State Children’s Administration, King County, WA
- Penny Putnam-Collins, Child Welfare Information Gateway, Fairfax, VA
- Alan-Michael Graves, Director, Project Fatherhood, Children’s Institute, Los Angeles, CA
Facilitator: Nigel Vann, National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse
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