Fostering father involvement [Childhub review]


Date of publication:  22 Jan 2016 Authors:  Ana Popovic Publication type:  Newsletter / Review / Bulletin

This study aims to change the prevalent practice in child protection work, in which social workers exclude fathers from the services due to negative framing of the father-figure. This study is comprised of 8 brief articles that discuss different situations, in which working with fathers is necessary for the benefit of both the child and the parents.

1. The first article discusses working with fathers of substance-exposed infants during the perinatal period and beyond. It is stated that it is essential to engage the fathers in services and assist the parents in managing conflict, which often is exacerbated by substance use. Moreover, for fathers who have assumed parenting responsibilities due to the mother’s drug use, early intervention is necessary. 

2. The second article addresses promising interventions for strengthening relationships between non-resident fathers and their children. It underlines the need for improving practices for involving non-resident fathers, such as “being attentive to gender-specific first contact” and employing “peer-led solution-focused intervention” with the goal of positively impacting child safety and well-being, as well as enhancing services, policies and child welfare training.

3. The third article addresses fathering capacity of incarcerated substance users, based on a research conducted within the US context. The conclusions derived are that incarcerated substance users lacked parenting skills due to their family background; however, they demonstrated a desire to reconnect with their children. In this case, the reintegration of fathers into the lives of their children can be achieved through motivational interviewing techniques and parenting classes.

4. The fourth article on fatherhood and recovery suggests ways of helping ex substance-addicts in the process of recovery and reconnection with their children. Fathers should be encouraged to seek support from other fathers in the recovery as well as to engage in individual and group therapy. Moreover, behavioural coupling courses and recovery coaches should be provided and parenting courses should be recommended.

5. The fifth article discusses Project Fatherhood: Fathers as a Solution. The conclusions derived from the research within this project are that many men are eager to participate in raising their children, but are often prevented from effectively doing so by poor social and economic conditions, negative cultural and legal biases, and challenges stemming from their life experiences. Project Fatherhood supports and empowers fathers by encouraging them to address the core issues of their lives, which may include substance abuse, failed relationships, or a childhood history of abuse and/or neglect. In this way fathers can then build their parenting skills and begin to play a critical role in supporting their children’s healthy emotional, cognitive, and physical development

6. The sixth article addresses the issue of single male caregiver challenges following the mother’s death. This article, written from the therapist’s point of view, discusses first eight months of therapeutic work within The Family Centre (California) done with two clients who suffered a loss of their spouse. The article focuses on the psycho-dynamic work as well as case-management tasks during a period of crisis, which served as support for fathers in the process of managing emotional needs and moving towards developing a new family structure.

7. The seventh article exposes and briefly discusses the data obtained during a research on fathers at risk for depression following the death of a child. Drawing the data from questionnaires completed by fathers who suffered a death of child, this article concludes that due to the fact that fathers do not feel as comfortable as mothers to reveal their grief, their depression following the death of the child becomes less visible. Consequently, clinicians working with fathers need to be more attentive to less obvious symptoms of depression and provide follow-up assessments, supplemented with appropriate services.

8. The eighth (and last) article discusses telephone support groups for fathers parenting HIV-Infected Children. It briefly addresses what is known about the psychological experiences of fathers caring for an infected child. Additionally, it discusses the strengths and limitations of telephone support groups, an intervention that has been found to be of assistance for fathers in this position.

The document was prepared by Ana Popovic for Child Protection Hub for South East Europe, 2016.

To read the full paper "Fostering father involvement" by Linda Blanchman (ed.), 2009., please click here.

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