Engaging Fathers

The National Family Preservation Network (NFPN) has provided resources, curricula, and training on father involvement since 2000.  The Basic Fatherhood Training Curriculum was developed as part of a demonstration project in which child welfare social workers received training and assistance to engage fathers in their children’s lives.  The project was successful and was one of the first to show that training practitioners is a key component of engaging fathers.

Additional studies over the past two decades show that early engagement of fathers is critical to engaging and involving them in their children’s lives. Early engagement is also important because the practitioner’s efforts and the father’s involvement tend to peak within about six months.

To assist practitioners with early engagement of fathers, the following is a six-week plan for engagement of non-residential fathers whose children are involved in the child welfare system:

Week 1:  

Identify the father of the child

Obtain a physical address for the father

Share with the mother how a father can be a resource

Contact the father: schedule face-to-face meeting

Week 2: 

Complete assessment form on father’s current involvement

Explore with father how he can be a resource to the child

If father is a limited resource, ask if his extended family could be a resource for the child

Identify services and resources that the father needs

Arrange a visit between the father and child

Week 3:     

Provide information and discuss with the father the developmental stage/needs of the child

Suggest activities that the father and child can do together

Discuss with the mother what the father’s involvement with the child can do to help her                       (child care, co-parenting, respite)

Connect both parents to services and resources that include addressing their co-parenting                     roles

Include father in the case plan

Week 4:    

Assist the father with scheduling a visit to the child’s school (pre-school, nursery)

Discuss with the father how services and resources are helping him to become more                            involved in the child’s life

Ask the child (if appropriate age) what his father’s involvement means to the child

Week 5:     

Discuss with each parent (or arrange a meeting with the father and mother) their view of                      the father’s involvement, assist with setting up a schedule for the father’s time with the                        child, and help establish methods/frequency of communication between the parents

Explore with the father what other services and resources are needed for him to maintain                     involvement in the child’s life

Week 6:    

Complete the assessment form on father involvement to determine progress and areas still                    needing improvement

Connect the father to any additional needed services

Explain to the father the importance of and benefits to the child of the father’s ongoing                        and permanent involvement

For information on the Basic Fatherhood Training Curriculum visit http://www.nfpn.org/father-involvement/basic-training-package

For additional resources on father involvement visit http://www.nfpn.org/father-involvement

Posted by Priscilla Martens, NFPN Executive Director


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