What About the Dads? Child Welfare Agencies' Efforts to Identify, Locate, and Involve Nonresident Fathers

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Urban Institute.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation.
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This study documents that nonresident fathers of children in foster care are not often involved in case planning efforts and nearly half are never contacted by the child welfare agency during their child's stay in foster care. By not reaching out to fathers, caseworkers may overlook potential social connections and resources that could help to achieve permanency for the child. A total of 1,222 local agency caseworkers were interviewed by phone about 1,958 specific cases between October 2004 and February 2005 to examine front-line practices related to nonresident fathers. Interviewers achieved an 83% response rate to the survey. Cases were selected from among children who had been in foster care at least 3 months but no more than 36 months. Children in the sample were all in foster care for the first time, and the child welfare agency's records indicated that each of the children's biological fathers was alive but not living in the home from which the child was removed. Additionally, only one child per mother was eligible for the study. The results of this study provide empirical evidence on the steps that child welfare agencies currently take to identify, locate and involve nonresident fathers in case planning; the barriers encountered; and the policies and practices that affect involvement.

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