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Father Involvement in Systems of Care


									                    Technical Assistance Partnership
             Guide for Father Involvement in Systems of Care
                             November 2009

Fatherhood Statistics

     64.3 million: Estimated number of fathers across the nation.
     26.5 million: Number of fathers who are part of married-couple families
      with their own children under the age of 18.
      Among these fathers -
         o   22 percent are raising three or more of their own children under 18
             years old (among married-couple family households only).
         o   2 percent live in the home of a relative or a non-relative.
     2.5 million: Number of single fathers, up from 400,000 in 1970. Currently,
      among single parents living with their children, 18 percent are men.
      Among these fathers -
          o 8 percent are raising three or more of their own children under 18
             years old.
          o 42 percent are divorced, 38 percent have never married, 16 percent
             are separated and 4 percent are widowed. (The percentages of those
             divorced and never married are not significantly different from one
         o 16 percent live in the home of a relative or a non-relative.
         o 27 percent have an annual family income of $50,000 or more.
     85 percent: Among the 30.2 million fathers living with children younger
      than 18, the percentage who lived with their biological children only.
         o 11 percent lived with step-children
         o 4 percent with adopted children
         o < 1 percent with foster children
     24 million children (34 percent) live absent their biological father.
     Nearly 20 million children (27 percent) live in single-parent homes.
     43 percent of first marriages dissolve within fifteen years; about 60
      percent of divorcing couples have children; and approximately one million
      children each year experience the divorce of their parents.
     About 40 percent of children in father-absent homes have not seen their
      father at all during the past year; 26 percent of absent fathers live in a

    different state than their children; and 50 percent of children living absent
    their father have never set foot in their father's home.
   Children who live absent their biological fathers are, on average, at least
    two to three times more likely to be poor, to use drugs, to experience
    educational, health, emotional and behavioral problems, to be victims of
    child abuse, and to engage in criminal behavior than their peers who live
    with their married, biological (or adoptive) parents.
   From 1995 to 2000, the proportion of children living in single-parent
    homes slightly declined, while the proportion of children living with two
    married parents remained stable.
   Children with involved, loving fathers are significantly more likely to do
    well in school, have healthy self-esteem, exhibit empathy and pro-social
    behavior, and avoid high-risk behaviors such as drug use, truancy, and
    criminal activity compared to children who have uninvolved fathers.
   Studies on parent-child relationships and child wellbeing show that father
    love is an important factor in predicting the social, emotional, and
    cognitive development and functioning of children and young adults.
   Fathers who live with their children are more likely to have a close,
    enduring relationship with their children than those who do not.
   Compared to children born within marriage, children born to cohabiting
    parents are three times as likely to experience father absence, and children
    born to unmarried, non-cohabiting parents are four times as likely to live
    in a father-absent home.

From the National Fatherhood Initiative's (NFI) Father Facts

Why Fathers1 and Social Fathers2 are Important to Include in Systems of Care
   They love their children.
   They are an integral part of families and communities.
   They can be, as family members, part of the solutions needed to address
   They are not already valued as much as they deserve to be.
   They bring a rich perspective to systems that have historically and
     primarily focused on mothers or female caregivers.
   When they are involved, data reflects that the children they care for
     penetrate formal systems less frequently, less deeply, and for shorter
     periods of time.
   Since the majority of enrolled children in Systems of Care are male,
     inclusion of male caregivers is especially critical.
   Building Systems of Care is hard work, and we need everyone involved.

Involvement of Fathers in Individual and Family Service Plans
The individual planning team should:

        Ensure that fathers have access, voice and choice in the development,
         implementation and revisions of service plans.
        Make a conscious effort to seek and understand the cultural implications
         of being a male caregiver within its planning processes.
        Make affirmative efforts to understand fathers’ work schedules, and try to
         schedule meetings at times that are convenient for fathers.
        Arrange to seek fathers’ input/ideas/concerns in advance of meetings they
         will be unable to attend.
        Even when fathers must be absent (due to work, immigration, military
         service, incarceration status, etc.), follow-up with fathers after such
         meetings to ensure they understand what has been discussed; to elicit
         their input, feedback and suggestions; and to incorporate their ideas into
         their children’s plans.
        In a divorced or divorcing situation, work with the custodial mother or
         legal guardian to include the father even when he is not the custodial
         parent or legal guardian, within the parameters set forth by the court.
        Ensure that service plans are culturally and linguistically competent to
         meet the diverse needs of fathers, by ensuring that cultural preferences,
         practices and mores are learned, understood and honored.
        To develop truly effective individualized plans, make every effort to
         discover fathers’ strengths, needs, and key cultural considerations that are
         relevant to addressing the needs of their children.

 Fathers include biological, adoptive, step, legal guardian.
 Social Father: A man who is “like a father” to children. He is either a relative or an unrelated male who
provides support for children other than his own. Relative social fathers include grandfathers, uncles,
cousins or older brothers. A non-relative social father can include a stepfather, adoptive father, fictive kin
(non-biological uncle, grandfather, big brother, etc.), or male friend of either biological parent.

Involvement of Fathers in Program and Systems
Developing systems of care should:
    Strive to infuse fathers’ involvement in all core dimensions3 of Systems of
    Recruit for influential and decision-making positions, individuals who
      embrace the power of positive contributions and participation by fathers,
      and then provide them with training to be effective in their functions.
    Provide leadership in engagement from within the system of care, by
      actively seeking out fathers of the children involved in the system(s)
      through individual phone calls, home visits, and face-to-face relationship
    Be in the habit of asking caregiver, “Will Dad be a part of the meeting?”
      When setting appointments, ask Mom, “Can Dad be sent an invitation, if
      Dad is not apart of the household?”
    If Dad is not in the household, send him invitations to meetings/activities.
    Individualize the outreach to, and engagement with, fathers (effective
      methods are often different than those with mothers), using socialization
      methods and opportunities that involve more doing than talking.
    Be creative with outreach and recruitment efforts. Go where the fathers
      are (e,g, houses of worship, barbershops, cultural gatherings); and
      recognizes that male to male outreach, engagement, and partnering is
      critical for success.
    Gear outreach and other social marketing efforts to reach fathers in ways
      that are inviting, non-judgmental, that promote their unique world view
      and focus on de-stigmatizing their involvement.
    Find out what fathers need and want that may be particular to your
      specific population of focus, system of care, cultural group, geographic
      region and community; and make accommodations to meet their needs
      and requests.
    Fathers have feelings. Acknowledge and respect fathers’ input,
      perspectives and communication styles, even though they may be different
      from mothers.
    Ensure that professionals speak with and to (eye to eye contact) fathers --
      not about or over them in ways that can serve to exclude and eventually
      alienate them.
    When meeting with a family, if Dad is not saying anything engage him in
      appropriate way, asking for his opinion/insight.
    Create father-friendly programs that focus specifically on fathers. Make
      sure initiatives are welcoming and engaging to men.
    Focus on action so men don’t feel as threatened by having to talk about
      their concerns, especially at the beginning. Men typically prioritize fixing
      problems over talking about them.

 Core Dimensions include family driven, youth guided, cultural and linguistic competence, clinical
services and structure, governance, social marketing, evaluation, logic model development, strategic
planning, technical assistance plan, continuous quality improvement plan.

     Develop father and child-centered activities such as sporting activities,
      camping, Wii, etc..
     Arrange opportunities for fathers to lead projects and to which they can
      recruit other men.
     Collaborate with other existing community activities that focus on fathers,
      so that fathers can become or remain connected to their own communities
      and influence the direction and focus of other programs to be father-
     Understand, respect and provide training to staff about men in our society
      and on the “culture of fathers” (innate characteristics and socialization of
      men) which is different (but not less or worse) than the culture of mothers.
     Provide training focused on the social-emotional development of children,
      on practical parenting skills and on the essential contributions of fathers
      to their children’s development. This training is as important for mothers
      as for fathers.
     Develop and provide training/coaching/mentoring geared specifically for
      fathers, by fathers, including with unique populations such as teen fathers,
      traditional Somali fathers, etc. so that they can serve as role models and
      mentors for other fathers. [include examples]
     Identify/create opportunities to encourage fathers’ mentoring of children.
     Ensure the inclusion and participation of fathers in family support groups
      and family leadership teams.
     Ensure that all forms (registration, intake, evaluation) used for intake
      interviews, screenings, clinical assessments and evaluations, service and
      supports, and system evaluation (methodology, data fields chosen,
      analysis of data), surveys and literature; speak about and include fathers in
      the information and interventions.
     Look for Father groups/organizations that your Fathers can be directed to
      that may be able to help them with their needs as a male and/or Dad,
      whether your site has a Father’s group or not.
     Retention is imperative! Make purposeful efforts to retain and challenge
      men in positive ways.
     Link with local, state and national fatherhood initiatives to share
      information and develop partnerships that are mutually beneficial.
     Always let fathers know that they are not alone, that they are valued, and
      that they will be supported through various means including peer
      mentoring, support groups, specialized or focused training; and always
      with respect.

Teen Fathers

Questions and Issues to Consider

      What are some of the emotional and/or psychological effects on children,
       due to Dad not being around?
      What identity issues can occur in children, both boys and girls, without a
       Father being present?
      How can a healthy relationship between parents affect children?
      How can an unhealthy relationship between parents affect children?
      Father’s view point on discipline varies from culture to culture and from
       household to household and may be different from mother’s point of view.
      How can a teen be a good father if he did not receive parenting growing up
       or has been raised without a father?

Strategies that Work

      Incorporate teaching methods and materials that are culturally
       appropriate for fathers
      Select staff who believe in the program and provide them with relevant
      Have a high staff/participant ratio
      Target curricula and select clear goals
      Use a variety of teaching methods, individualize and personalize
      Allow sufficient time to complete core activities
      Have staff who engage in 1:1 relationships with fathers
      Provide incentives for participation

   From: “What Works?” in Fatherhood Programs, National Responsible
   Fatherhood Clearinghouse Practice Brief,

Glossary of Terms


National or Federal Resources

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Promoting Responsible

National Center for Fathers and Families is dedicated to research and practice
that expands the knowledge base on father involvement and family development,
and that informs policy designed to improve the well-being of children:

National Fatherhood Initiative was founded to improve the well-being of children
by increasing the proportion of children growing up with involved, responsible,
and committed fathers:

National Center for Fathering believe inspire and equip men to be the involved
fathers, grandfathers and father figures their children need:

NFL Dad’s Group:

Teen Parents:

State Fatherhood Initiatives

Colorado Dads, Be There for Your Kids

Florida Commission on Responsible
111 North Gadsden Street, Suite 200
Tallahassee, FL 32301-1507

Georgia Fatherhood Program
Johnathan R. Ward, Coordinator
1800 Century Place, Suite 400
Atlanta, Georgia 30345-4304
Fax: 404/679-1675

Illinois Fatherhood Initiative
208 S. LaSalle - Suite #1900
Chicago, IL 60606
800 / 996 - DADS
312 / 795 – 8631
fax 312 / 795 - 8839
Email -

Indiana Fathers & Families
IMPACT Program - FSSA/Div. C&F
402 W. Washington St., Rm W363
Indianapolis, IN 46204


Indiana: The Family Connection of St. Joseph County, Inc.
Sue Christensen and Ann Rosen, Co-Directors
132 N. Lafayette Blvd., South Bend IN 46601
telephone: 574-237-9740 ~ fax: 574-237-1071

Maryland Fatherhood Initiative
Community Services Administration
Office of Community Initiatives.
311 W. Saratoga Street
Baltimore, MD 21201

Pennsylvania Fatherhood Initiative
Bob Randall, Coordinator
Commonwealth Keystone Building
400 North Street, 4th Floor
Harrisburg, PA 17120-0225
Fax: 717/787-4088

South Carolina - Sisters Of Charity
2601 Laurel Street, Suite 250 Columbia,
SC 29204-2035
Fax 803/748-0444

Texas Fatherhood Initiative
4301 Burnet Road, Suite B
Austin TX 78756
512/ 453-5056
Fax: 512/453-5063

Virginia Fatherhood Campaign
Ron J. Clark
Director of Fatherhood Programs
Main Street Station
1500 East Main Street
Richmond, VA 23219

Washington State Fathers Network
James May
16120 NE 8th St.
Bellevue, WA 98008-3937
425/747 4004, ext. 218

Washington State
P. O. Box 5557
Bellevue, WA 98006


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