Social workers need to work with fathers across many service systems, but lack guidance on how to do so, and most engagement, assessment, and intervention work for family-serving systems is mother- and child-focused. Father-inclusive readings and resources are also limited. Drawing on the expertise of well-regarded research and practice experts in the field, this comprehensive book provides guidance to social work practitioners and researchers on how to engage, assess, and serve fathers. Instructors can use the text to include fathers in courses on the human behavior and social environment, family systems, clinical practice, diversity, or service systems. Social service systems, unfortunately, have often struggled to positively engage men as parents. Recent demographic trends indicate that fathers are providing more direct care to children and single-father households are one of the most rapidly growing demographic groups in the United States. Barriers to their successful engagement include biases and assumptions about men and fathers, a lack of father-friendly policies and practices in the field, limited training on how to work with fathers, and relatively limited father-inclusive social work research until recently. This book addresses these barriers. It is a guide to social workers in their efforts to better serve men as parents, and does so from an ecological and systems perspective. Multiple case examples and practical tools are provided, as well as specific content on major social service systems. Topics explored include: Father Engagement Organizational "Father Friendly" Assessments Interventions with Fathers Setting the Course for Future Theory, Research, and Practice with Fathers Social Work Practice with Fathers: Engagement, Assessment, and Intervention is a book that could be folded into foundation courses in social work or used by practitioners in the field. It is an essential text for graduate students in social work, psychology, sociology, child development, allied health, and similar disciplines and professions, and a go-to resource for helping professionals/practitioners such as social workers, psychologists, and licensed professional counselors. Advanced undergraduate students in these disciplines and professions also will find the text useful in their studies and work.
Ch. 1 Introduction Chapter Abstract The introduction chapter provides the need for this text, with a brief overview of the history of the engagement of fathers in social work and common barriers to their successful inclusion. It also outlines the intended audience and purpose. The chapter also provides an overview of the structure of the book, and the content that is covered in subsequent chapters as well as the values that guide the work, making connections to the social work code of ethics. Also included are suggestions for readers on how to incorporate the readings into social work coursework and training and how the material relates to current EBPAS standards. Key words: historical context, ethics, father engagement Part I. Engagement Ch. 2 Framing Father Engagement Chapter Abstract This chapter explores existing definitions and conceptualizations of father engagement, including key terms that are used throughout this section of the book related to engagement. In addition, general models and frameworks related to engagement are reviewed, and when possible examples specific to fathers are described. This chapter includes a a brief overview on the state of the research and conceptual literature related to father engagement, addressing three key questions: What do we know now? What do we still need to know? What is the way forward? These questions guide the structure of the remaining chapters in this section. Keywords: father engagement, definitions of father engagement, models of father engagement Ch. 3 Engaging Individual Fathers and Families from a Developmental and Family Systems Perspective Chapter Abstract This chapter explores the topic of engaging individual fathers/father figures and families across the lifespan. Drawing on life course and developmental theories, this chapter addresses engagement of teen fathers, middle-age fathers and father figures, and older fathers and father figures. Furthermore, this chapter draws on family systems theory to explore changes in family structure over time and how such changes have influenced ways of engaging fathers. This chapter concludes by discussing strategies for engaging fathers that reside in a variety of 21st century family structures, such as resident fathers, non-resident fathers, multi-partner fertility fathers, social fathers, single fathers, LGBTQ fathers, minority fathers, kinship fathers, and cohabiting fathers. Keywords: father engagement, developmental perspectives, life course perspectives, family systems theory Ch. 4 Engaging Fathers within Programs, Organizations and SystemsChapter Abstract This chapter describes father engagement in the context of programs, organizations, and service systems. The role of system structures, physical environments, policies, and processes in engagement of fathers are explored including the interrelationship between the engagement of fathers and their families and these macro-level factors. A general framework of programs, organizational and system engagement factors related to father engagement are presented and case examples are given to illustrate these factors. This general framework is used to organize the subsequent chapters on interventions in service systems. This chapter also includes a description of recommended practices in building and adapting organizations to better serve fathers, including the use of organizational and systems assessments and interventions. Keywords: organizations, systems, engagement, framework Ch. 5 Engaging Fathers in Research and EvaluationChapter Abstract This chapter first uses a historical lens to explore challenges and strategies for engaging various populations of fathers in academic and community-based research and evaluation. A framework for preparing for field work with fathers is presented including practical tools and examples. The chapter includes an overview of successful recruitment techniques that have been used to enroll fathers in both qualitative and quantitative research studies, including agency-based recruitment, social media strategies, and community stakeholder outreach. Tools for retaining fathers in longitudinal studies also is discussed. This chapter highlights ethical debates related to research with fathers, including maternal gatekeeping, incentive structures, and prolonged engagement. Keywords: recruitment, retention, research ethics Part II: Assessment Ch. 6 Assessment with Fathers: Recognizing Strengths, Challenges, and Contexts Chapter Abstract This chapter examines the assessment process with fathers. The chapter begins with an examination of the importance of conducting a comprehensive assessment that focuses on father strengths and challenges. By understanding fathers' strengths, practitioners can build on existing resources, both internal and external. In order to effectively intervene, practitioners must understand the historical and current needs and challenges of fathers. The chapter discusses the relevance of dynamic assessment approaches whereby understanding changes in father's status, context, and parenting situation are considered over time, rather than assuming these are stagnant factors. Content includes the importance of male-friendly assessment tools and strategies to accurately assess overall health and well-being. The chapter provides recommendations for practitioners and programs to improve assessment processes for fathers and strategies to make assessment more welcoming and useful for fathers. Keywords: fathering, strengths, challenges, context, dynamic assessment Ch. 7 Organizational "Father Friendly" Assessments Chapter Abstract This chapter uses the general framework presented in Chapter 4 to examine approaches to assessing the "father friendliness" of programs and organizations. A team approach is recommended, including collaboration with fathers and families to assess programs and organizations. The chapter provides tools that can be used by individuals or teams to examine program elements for their father-inclusiveness. These tools direct the reader on a process that includes the consideration of program development, theory, and content for the inclusion of fathers. They also direct the readers to consider organizational location, physical appearance, staffing, and staff training for father friendliness. The chapter concludes with a discussion of how these assessments can be used to guide adaptations to programs and changes in organizations to better serve fathers. Keywords: organizations, father friendliness, father inclusion Part III: Intervention Ch. 8 Framing Interventions with Fathers Chapter Abstract This chapter examines how we frame intervention with fathers. The chapter explores definitions and concepts related to intervention, including who is included in services, incorporating multiple parents in interventions, and inclusion of social fathers. This framing impacts who is included and excluded in services, which impacts the family system and success of intervention. Issues related to how we intervene in terms of language, activities, and strategies are explored. The chapter concludes with recommendations for framing interventions and intervening in ways which positively impact the family system as a whole, as well as its individual members, including the father or father figure. Keywords: interventions, family systems, father figures Ch. 9 Expanding Our Understanding of Public Policies to Support Father Involvement Chapter Abstract This chapter presents approaches to assessing the "father friendliness" of public policies that may impact father engagement. The chapter provides an overview of the policy process, and barriers and supports for including fathers' voices at each stage. Advocacy tools that can be used by individuals, community stakeholders, and fatherhood organizations are included. These tools direct the reader on best practices for assessing the engagement of fathers, administrators, and legislators in discussion about father-friendly policy development. The chapter concludes by providing case examples of father-inclusive policy advocacy, development, implementation, and evaluation. Keywords: public policy, family impact analysis, father engagement Ch. 10 Group Work with Fathers in Federal Pretrial Detention and a Community-Based Residential Setting: Reflections on Practice and Policies Across Contexts Chapter Abstract This chapter describes fathers' experiences with and within the criminal justice system, and the impacts of such involvement on a multitude of relationships within the family system. It examines issues that impact paternal identity and involvement such as, community-level interactions with the police (i.e., stop and arrest patterns), pretrial detention, and incarceration in local, state, and federal detention centers. Interventions geared towards prevention of system involvement, pretrial diversion, and community reentry are examined. This chapter also explores public policy approaches that place fathers at risk for system involvement or facilitate disentanglement from the system over the life course. Keywords: criminal justice, paternal incarceration, reentry, mass incarceration Ch. 11 Engaging Fathers in Child Welfare and Foster Care Settings: Promoting Paternal Contributions to the Safety, Permanency, and Well-being of Children and Families Chapter Abstract This chapter examines fathers in the child welfare system. Readers are informed regarding relevant aspects of engagement and intervention with this subgroup of fathers, which impacts the ability to effectively intervene with fathers in child welfare. Issues related to inclusion in services, from prevention to exist from foster care as well as the needs and challenges of these fathers, and factors that increase engagement and retention in services, are discussed. Biases and practices that deter father inclusion are examined. The chapter concludes with recommendations on engaging, assessing, and intervening with fathers in the child welfare system across multiple system processes, and the life of a case is examined. Keywords: child welfare, child maltreatment, child abuse, prevention Ch. 12 Father-Friendly School Interventions: Helping Schools Create Engagement Opportunities Chapter Abstract This chapter explores current school practices for engaging fathers in the education of their children. It also highlights existing challenges to both recruiting and retaining fathers in school-based parenting interventions and strategies that have been offered in the existing literature for addressing these challenges. This chapter also provides a brief overview of findings from the literature related to "father-friendly" school-based interventions and the outcomes/effectiveness of these programs. Finally, this chapter concludes by highlighting the voices of fathers and/or practitioners and their experiences with participation in interventions delivered in school settings. Keywords: school-based parenting interventions, fathers, school-based parenting programs Ch. 13 Fathers' Participation in Early Childhood Programs Chapter Abstract This chapter examines the engagement of fathers in early childhood service systems. The chapter begins with a brief discussion of early childhood programs, including home visiting, early head start, and other programs designed to improve the health and educational outcomes of young children. The chapter describes the role of fathers in supporting both children and mothers' engagement and success in these programs, as well as an overview of the current research on engagement of fathers in early childhood programs. The chapter concludes with a set of recommendations for practitioners and programs to improve the engagement of fathers in their services. Keywords: early childhood, Head Start, home visiting Ch. 14 Fathers and Child Support: How Money Transfers and Other Interactions Impact Family Dynamics Chapter Abstract This chapter examines interventions targeted towards fathers who have current child support orders and arrears. The chapter begins with a brief history of the need for and development of federal and state child support services. Barriers and facilitators to fathers' engagement with this system are explored. The chapter describes contemporary shifts in models of service delivery and policies that have been developed to enhance paternal compliance, via support for education and employment services. The chapter also highlights the impact of these programs on child and family well-being. The chapter concludes with a set of recommendations for enhancing child support service engagement. Keywords: child support, arrears, compliance Ch. 15 Engaging Fathers in Intimate Partner Violence Interventions Chapter Abstract This chapter examines the role of fathers, both as perpetrators and victims of interpersonal violence. The chapter begins with a brief discussion of violence prevention and intervention programs, including male anti-violence ally programs, shelter programs and other victim services, and batterer programs. The chapter describes the role of fathers in violence prevention, supporting both children and mothers' health and well-being, as well as an overview of the current research on the prevention of and intervention for fathers who engage in violence behaviors. The chapter concludes with a set of recommendations for practitioners and programs to improve the engagement of fathers in their services, including the development of more programs aimed at serving male victims of violence. Keywords: domestic violence, interpersonal violence, batterers Part IV: Conclusion Ch. 16 Setting the Course for Future Theory, Research, and Practice with Fathers Chapter Abstract In this chapter, major themes of the book are summarized, including key principles of engagement and intervention. In addition, trends in social work research, programs, and policies related to father engagement are explored, including trends toward increased federal investment in fatherhood programs and demonstration projects, more father-inclusive family-oriented programming, and attention to co-parenting and other factors that contextualize fathering in families and communities. Ongoing gaps as well as opportunities for further research and novel approaches to father engagement for service providers are described. Additional resources available to the reader seeking additional supports in appendices are described. Keywords: engagement, intervention, research Appendices Appendix A: Glossary Appendix B: Social Work Grand Challenges Related to Fathers and Fathering Appendix C: Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS) Competency Map for Book Chapters Appendix D: Syllabi Maps Appendix E: Policy Reflection Activity Appendix F: Practice Reflection Activity Appendix G: Case Vignettes Appendix H: Resource List
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