Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

2 Engaging Fathers In Child Family Services to Improve Parenting and Reduce Child Maltreatment

Thursday, January 12, 2012: 1:30 PM-3:15 PM
Cabin John (Grand Hyatt Washington)
Cluster: Child Welfare
Symposium Organizer:
Jennifer L. Bellamy, PhD, University of Chicago
Pajarita Charles, PhD, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago
A mounting body of research reaffirms the contribution of fathers to child and family well-being and the impact of fathers' participation in services on service outcomes. Unfortunately, fathers are often neglected in child and family interventions and research. The theme of this symposium is organized around research that informs efforts to engage fathers in services to improve their parenting and reduce family risk for child maltreatment. In particular we highlight efforts to better understand how fathers are currently experiencing child and family services, the barriers that prevent their engagement, strategies to increase fathers' their participation.

The four papers included in this symposium use a variety of data sources to address key questions related to advancing the optimal engagement of fathers in child and family services including data from a large child welfare dataset, a doula home visiting intervention study, interviews with parent training intervention developers, and focus groups with fathers themselves. The strengths of this symposium include the presentation of data collected directly from fathers and other key stakeholders, the examination of a variety of child and family service contexts, and a mix of quantitative and qualitative methodological approaches. These projects represent the cutting edge of research in this nascent and challenging area of study. Collectively they advance knowledge of the service needs of fathers, barriers to fathers' engagement in child and family services, and promising strategies and approaches for future research.

One of the papers that will be presented in this symposium focuses on families currently involved in the child welfare service system. In this paper data from family assessments collected in a large child welfare system is analyzed using latent class analysis to explore patterns of father-related risk factors. In the second study, data produced from a doula home visiting program examining the factors related to fathers' participation in the intervention is also presented. The third study explores the parenting concerns and needs and experiences of African American fathers reported in focus groups. The final study describes potential adaptations to evidence-based parent training interventions identified through interviews with parent training intervention developers, researchers, and clinicians.

Taken together these studies provide a multifaceted view of father engagement in services from the system, family, and individual levels. The results set the stage for future research and have implications for child and family service providers who are seeking to improve the inclusion of fathers in these types of services. Continued barriers to services including serving a variety of fathers in complex family structures, limited parenting resources for fathers in child and family service systems, and fathers' perceptions of child and family services are examined. Also innovative services strategies to better engage fathers including repackaging parenting interventions and prevention programs, using comprehensive family assessments, and building flexible service strategies that can be responsive to a variety of family structures and service contexts are described.

* noted as presenting author
Examining Fathers' Service Need Profiles Using Integrated Assessments of Child Welfare Involved Families
Cheryl Smithgall, PhD, Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago; Elizabeth Jarpe-Ratner, MPH, MS, University of Chicago; Jennifer L. Bellamy, PhD, University of Chicago
Father Participation In a Perinatal Home-Visiting Intervention for Young Mothers
Matthew J. Thullen, MS, AM, University of Chicago; Stephen E. McMillen, University of Chicago; Sydney L. Hans, PhD, University of Chicago
The Parenting Role of African American Fathers In the Context of Urban Poverty
Jennifer M. Threlfall, MSW, Washington University in Saint Louis; Kristen D. Seay, MSW, Washington University in Saint Louis; Patricia L. Kohl, PhD, Washington University in Saint Louis
Adaptation of Evidence Based Parent Training Interventions for Fathers
Jennifer L. Bellamy, PhD, University of Chicago; Erna Dinata, PhD, University of Chicago; Shawna Lee, PhD, Wayne State University
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