This brief explains the importance of father engagement in child welfare services. It begins by discussing the rising number of children being raised by single mothers and the disengagement of fathers from their children’s lives. Federal efforts towards nationwide programs that strengthen two-parent families, promote healthy marriage, encourage responsible fatherhood and increase father engagement are noted, and the benefits of paternal engagement are explained. Following sections review effects associated with poor parental engagement, causes of low engagement, and promising interventions to promote father engagement. Typical outcomes targeted by various father engagement programs are identified, as well as supports for non-custodial fathers from low-income backgrounds, and program components that focus on relationship skills work on helping couples or former partners become better co-parents. Strategies professionals can use to engage fathers are described, and address creating awareness, recruitment, appropriate staffing, and communication skills. Finally, key considerations for father engagement are discussed, as well as supplemental supports for fathers who use substances and supplemental supports for incarcerated fathers. 41 references.
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