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How To Build a Father Friendly Child Welfare System National Association of Counsel for Children National Conference August 2012 Chicago, IL.

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Presentation on theme: "How To Build a Father Friendly Child Welfare System National Association of Counsel for Children National Conference August 2012 Chicago, IL."— Presentation transcript:

1 How To Build a Father Friendly Child Welfare System National Association of Counsel for Children National Conference August 2012 Chicago, IL

2 Sonia C. Velazquez Executive Director ECLT Foundation, Geneva, Switzerland NACC Board Member Former Project Director, National Quality Improvement Center on Non Resident Fathers and the Child Welfare System

3 Framing Question: How to effectively facilitate the involvement of fathers in the children’s lives when Child Welfare has intervened?

4 1. How do Child Welfare Systems Identify, locate, contact and engage fathers? 2. How do fathers work with Child Welfare and Interconnected Systems and the Courts to be involved in their children’s lives? Knowledge Development Context for Non- Resident Fathers and the Child Welfare System: The Framework

5 Knowledge Development Efforts to Assist States, Tribes, the Legal Community, the Courts, and Community-Based Programs to Enhance Non- Resident Father Engagement with Child Welfare What About the Dads: Child Welfare Agencies’ Efforts to Identify, Locate, and Involve NonResident Fathers. (Malm, Murray, Geen) US DHHS More about the Dads: Exploring Associations between Nonresident Father Involvement and Child Welfare Case Outcomes (ASPE) US DHHS

6 Quality Improvement Center on Non- Resident Fathers in Child Welfare: Began in 2006 with a Children’s Bureau award Knowledge development Product development Field test of engagement in four sites Program development recommendations

7 Four QIC NRF Research Sites: Indiana Fathers and Families Center and Indiana Department of Child Services (Marion County) The Division of Children and Family Services (Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, King County) and Divine Alternatives for Dads El Paso County (Colorado Springs, CO.) and the Center on Fathering Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (Tarrant County; Ft. Worth) and the Fatherhood New Day Services National Advisory Board National and Local Fathers’ Councils National Quality Improvement Center on Non-Resident Fathers and the Child Welfare System, US DHHS, ACF, ACYF – American Humane Association, American Bar Association, National Fatherhood Initiative

8 Resource Web Sites:

9 Child Welfare: Broadens circle of family support by including fathers and potentially their family/friends More “eyes” to survey the well-being of the child Increased informal supports and resources Positive well-being outcomes for child Promotes family and cultural connection What’s In It For…

10 Child Welfare: Helps meet the expectations of the CFSR (permanency, safety, well-being and family involvement) Facilitates concurrent planning — more than one goal Supports required reasonable or diligent efforts Engages paternal relatives as possible permanency options What’s In It For…

11 Mothers & Families: Overall positive outcomes for children’s well-being Additional support from father & paternal family Commitment to family modeled for children Increase in mother’s patience, flexibility and emotional responsiveness toward child Successful co-parenting sends consistent messages to child about right and wrong What’s In It For…

12 Children : – Fathers provide unique support Emotional Financial Physical – Involvement of paternal kin Expanded cultural & family ties Knowledge of family medical history

13 What’s In It For… Children: Significantly more likely to exhibit healthy self-esteem & pro-social behavior Better educational outcomes More friendships & fewer behavioral concerns Both parents act as partners in raising them Increased family support that can ensure safety, emotional well-being & connection to caring adults Evans, G. D., & Fogarty, K. (2008). The hidden benefits of being an involved father. Retrieved May 21, 2009, from Ferguson, G. (2009). Questions about kids: Do dads really make a difference? Center for Early Education and Development (CEED), College of Education and Human Development, University of Minnesota. Retrieved May 21, 2009, from

14 Fatherhood Toolkit: 1.Leadership and Organizational Philosophy 2.Program Management Policies and Procedures 3.Organizational and Community Assessment 4.Parent and Family Involvement Practices 5.Program Physical Environment 6.Staff Training and Professional Development 7.Collaboration and Organizational Networking 8.Community Outreach 9.Information and Data Support Systems 10.All Fathers are Important

15 Leadership and Organizational Philosophy: NRF-QIC Products –Problem statement Non Resident Fathers are not seen as a resource for their children in Child Welfare Non Resident Fathers are not present in virtually all child welfare cases Gender matters in parenting and service delivery –Father Friendly Check Up –Partnership with Courts as decision makers

16 Organizational and Community Assessment: Father Advisory Committee Videos – fathers’ stories REk REk Newsletters—fathers’ stories Collaboration with other organizations – systems integration – particularly Child Support Enforcement Transportation, Job training, substance abuse and mental health services

17 Program Management Policies and Procedures: “Parent” equals code word for mother “Visitation”* might not be the same as “Parenting Time”** –*Philosophy regarding frequency, location, etc. –** What does a Dad or Mom do when face to face with children Incarcerated fathers and visitation policy –Child welfare services and prison policy Do policies present conflicting motivations for fathers and so create barriers? Father recruitment data from the four QIC-NRF field sites Child Outcomes on CFSRs

18 Courts - Child and Family Attorneys Father’s legal guidebook FGDM or other family engagement practices QIC NRF facilitated peer fatherhood curriculum Bringing Back the Dads curriculum and male helping seeking behaviors Service availability Parent and Family Involvement Practices:

19 Dad as Parent: Understanding your children Dad as Community Member: Identifying and accessing resources Dad as Part of the Juvenile Court Process: Legal advocacy and court etiquette Dad as Part of Children’s Placement: Visiting with your children Dad as Healthy Parent: Taking care of you Dad as Cultural Guide: The role of culture in parenting Dad as Worker: Workforce readiness Parent and Family Involvement Practices: Bringing Back the Dads modules: Dad as Part of the Solution: Overview of the child welfare system Dad as Planner: Service planning in the child welfare system Dad as Provider: Supporting your children Dad as Team Player: Shared parenting

20 Program Physical Environment: Pictures Magazines Color schemes Chairs instead of couches Diaper changing stations in men’s restrooms

21 Staff Training and Professional Development: Family finding training – Social worker training – Social worker coaching/mentoring training Attorney training Bench cards ABA green book - Advocating for Nonresident Fathers in Child Welfare Court Cases

22 All Fathers are Important: Fathers are at different stages of emotional availability Respect for relationship father has with children –As many different relationship types as there are fathers –Different views of what family should be –How to help fathers clarify values? –How to help fathers develop a plan? What are aspirations of child and of father? What is practical? What is the safety assessment philosophy?

23 Understanding the Socialization of Men: Socially constructed ideas cultivate: Emotional conflict Behavioral problems Emotional pain, often resulting in an emotional trauma causing men to present as:  Stoic  Firm  Detached emotionally Men have traditionally found it difficult to acknowledge their feelings and the effect they have on their lives and the lives of family members. Link retrieved by American Humane June 16, 2009

24 Societal Factors That Influence the Development of Manhood & Fatherhood: Discouraging the expression of emotions — “real men don’t cry” Anger is an acceptable male emotion Dominant, disconnected and dangerous Being physically strong Ambition and competition Good occupational functioning Athletic ability Economic success Sexual conquests The section was adapted from Shears, J., & Furman, R., Working with fathers: A review of the literature. University of North Carolina- Charlotte; and Hofferth, S. L. (2001, February). Race/ethnic differences in father involvement in two- parent families: Culture, context, or economy. Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan. Retrieved May 21, 2009, from

25 Strategies to Encourage Help-Seeking Behaviors: Normalize their experience Minimize reflection on affect & emotions Provide direct feedback and action- oriented steps Use metaphors to make problems concrete and relatable Use approaches that focus on logic and behavior

26 Developing the Relationship: A desire to develop a positive and authentic relationship with your client requires that you remain sensitive to the CULTURAL and GENDER differences. Take the time to get to know them and how their experiences have shaped who they are today. Remain attentive to your verbal and non-verbal responses and how they may be interpreted from their cultural lens. Check things out and ask questions.

27 Approaches to Engaging Non-Resident Fathers: Assume the non-resident father wants to be involved Restore the non-resident father in the child's life Individualize each case Suspend judgments Make room for expressions of anger

28 Approaches to Engaging Non-Resident Fathers: Seek first to understand Recognize and acknowledge previous experience with child welfare Transparency regarding agency’s involvement and the non-resident father’s role in the case process Acknowledge the power in your position along with empowering the non-resident father

29 Approaches to Engaging Non-Resident Fathers: Identify the non-resident father’s strengths Increase his understanding of how important he is to his child Encourage opportunities for change, particularly if he is the person that caused the harm

30 Where are the Non-Resident Fathers ? Differences between communities based upon geography, transportation, economics and demographics - Results from four cities, handout - Local assessment from existing families Practicality of strategies Family Finding Costs of not reaching fathers – well-being and monetary

31 Research Findings from QIC NRF: Of the homes from which children are removed, 75% are homes in which the fathers did not reside. Eighty per cent of children of program fathers are in foster homes, half of these with relatives. Twenty five per cent of program fathers had had their first child as teenagers. Fifty seven per cent of program fathers reported receiving fewer than 12 years of education

32 Research Findings from QIC NRF: Twenty per cent of program fathers are employed full time; an additional 15% are employed part-time or self- employed. More than half of program non-resident fathers report they have been fairly treated. Children of program non-resident have more than one third fewer placement moves than other children [ but they are much younger than the general foster care child population].

33 Father-Friendly Check-Up: Tool to help agencies create an environment that involves non-resident fathers and foster the healthy development of children Seven Assessment Areas 1.Leadership & Organization Philosophy 2.Program Management Policies & Procedures 3.Parent Involvement Program 4.Program Physical Environment 5.Staff Training & Professional Development 6.Collaboration & Organizational Networking 7.Community Outreach

34 Not Relevant Ineligible Not locatable ______ Declined Enrolled Minus declined Fathers with children entering care during the project Excluding resident fathers, fathers with rights terminated and deceased Minus NRF with child abuse history Minus incarcerated Minus outside jurisdiction Minus other disqualified Minus contact, no response Attended Minus serious domestic violence Minus no name for father Minus could not locate Where is the 97.9%?

35 Engaging Fathers in Child Welfare Proceedings

36 Resources from the QIC-NRF: All products at: Father-Friendly Check Up for Child Protection Courts (forthcoming) Lay CASA/GAL, Child’s Lawyer, and Agency Attorney Practice Briefs Finding Your Way: Guides for Fathers in Child Protection Cases Set of Three Judicial Bench Cards Book and Curricula for Attorneys Representing NRFs (including a chapter for judges)

37 Includes Instructor’s Guides, Power Point Slides, Handouts, and Post-Training Tests Entire content available on CD-ROM Checklists for fathers’ lawyers are also available at: org/checklists.shtml

38 Other Questions?


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