Father Engagement in Child Welfare

Father Engagement in Child Welfare

Lessons for Fatherhood Programs, OPRE Report #2023-193
Published: Aug 24, 2023
Publisher: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Associated Project

Fathers and Continuous Learning in Child Welfare

Time frame: 2017–2023

Prepared for:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families


Sarah Campbell

Jennifer Bellamy

Sheila Cavallo

Brandon Hollie

Key Findings
  • Building partnerships can expand programs’ referrals, reach, and influence without spreading resources too thin.
  • Buy-in and standardization of father engagement practices from leaders can solidify the importance of father engagement within organizations and communities.
  • By working to elevate fathers’ voices, programs can demonstrate fathers’ value and identify areas for improvement.
  • Racial equity work helps make father engagement a priority, by both elevating it as a larger community issue and by reducing disparities.
  • Capturing data related to father engagement promotes continued efforts and addresses needed strategy changes.

In August 2019, as part of the Fathers and Continuous Learning (FCL) project, five child welfare agencies began participating in a Breakthrough Series Collaborative (BSC) focused on strengthening fathers’ and paternal relatives’ engagement with their children in the child welfare system. Teams from participating child welfare agencies included child welfare staff and administrators, fathers and paternal relatives, and community partners, including fatherhood programs.

This brief shares key lessons fatherhood programs can consider based on the experiences of the teams that participated in the FCL project.

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