Session: Fathering in the Context of Diverse Service Systems (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

110 Fathering in the Context of Diverse Service Systems

Friday, January 18, 2019: 1:45 PM-3:15 PM
Union Square 22 Tower 3, 4th Floor (Hilton San Francisco)
Cluster: Child Welfare (CW)
Symposium Organizer:
Justin Harty, MSW, University of Chicago
Justin Harty, MSW, University of Chicago
In recent years, there has been an increased interest in understanding how fathers directly and indirectly affect children's development. While growing work points to the importance of fathers for child development and wellbeing, less work has focused on service system engagement. A key aspect of this research is the identification of mechanisms determining a father's willingness and ability to engage with diverse child- and family-focused service systems, particularly among economically disadvantaged and vulnerable populations, and how participation relates to fathers' involvement with their families. This symposium explores fathering within the context of diverse service systems, with a focus on the intersection of father involvement and three important service systems: child support, child welfare, and early childhood education. The four papers in this symposium will inform policy- and practice-relevant efforts to increase father involvement, improve child outcomes, and better engage fathers navigating diverse service systems.

The first paper examines fathers behind on child support payments to better understand their characteristics and amounts of informal support, from a sample of approximately 9,000 noncustodial parents having employment difficulties. Findings suggest that non-custodial fathers in difficult circumstances are reporting significant informal contributions that should be recognized by the child support system. Fathers' informal child support contributions may indirectly affect child development.

The second paper tests the effect of the provision of informal and court ordered financial support on positive co-parenting from a sample of 327 non-resident fathers. Findings suggest that the provision of informal support is associated with gatekeeping, co-parenting alliance, and undermining. Findings have implications for incorporating these types of support into child support policy.

The third paper examines the effect of both mothers' and fathers' engagement in child welfare services on permanency and stability outcomes. The study analyzed 1,617 child welfare cases on various outcomes including permanency, stability, and parent engagement. The study found that permanency was lower when both parents were engaged in services, while increased permanency was associated with high-quality engagement with fathers and mothers. Positive child welfare outcomes is another father-related pathway affecting child development and well-being.

The fourth paper examines the association between Head Start participation and non-resident father involvement, material contributions, and proximal outcomes affecting involvement among a sample of 1,486 families with 236 Head Start participants. Results indicate that Head Start participation is associated with increased father involvement but not material contributions. A father's participation in Head Start can directly affect educational outcomes of children.

Together, these papers provide vital insights into mechanisms determining father involvement across three diverse service systems. These papers leverage diverse methods with unique samples to inform social work research on pathways through which father involvement may affect child outcomes. These findings have important implications for innovating cross-system collaboration, informing social work efforts to engage fathers in appropriate comprehensive services, and guiding fathers through complex service systems. Future research is needed to identify additional mechanisms affecting the relationship between father involvement and child outcomes, the influence of this relationship, as well as father's satisfaction with service systems and associated child outcomes.

* noted as presenting author
Doing What They Can? Low-Income Fathers Providing Informal Support to Their Nonresident Children
Maria Cancian, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Angela Guarin, MSW, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Leslie Hodges, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Daniel Meyer, PhD, University of Wisconsin - Madison
Father Engagement and Positive Co-Parenting: The Role of Informal Support
Lara Markovitz, LMSW, Washington University in Saint Louis; Patricia Kohl, PhD, Washington University in Saint Louis
Parenting Engagement in Foster Care Placement Stability and Permanency
Mark Trahan, PhD, Southwest Texas State University; Jangmin Kim, PhD, Texas State University; Jennifer Bellamy, PhD, University of Denver; James A Hall, PhD, Indiana University - Purdue University, Indianapolis
Head Start & Nonresident Father Involvement
Alexandra Haralampoudis, Rutgers University; Louis Donnelly, MSW, Princeton University; Lenna Nepomnyaschy, PhD, Rutgers University
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