Opening Up Possibilities: Father Engagement Lessons During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

Opening Up Possibilities: Father Engagement Lessons During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

OPRE Report #2021-82
Published: May 28, 2021
Publisher: Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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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

Authors

Eliza Abendroth

Jennifer Bellamy

Diletta Mittone

The COVID-19 public health emergency unleashed an unparalleled shock on the child welfare system, raising unexpected barriers to delivering services. For teams using a continuous learning method— specifically, a Breakthrough Series Collaborative (BSC)—to engage fathers and paternal relatives in child welfare, the public health emergency also revealed new opportunities. Leveraging elements of the BSC during this time enabled the teams to reconsider how they approach family engagement broadly, including engagement of fathers and paternal relatives. The BSC supported rapid innovation in response to the public health emergency, which could ultimately lead to long-lasting improvement. This brief is based on the experiences of six child welfare teams participating in the Fathers and Continuous Learning (FCL) in Child Welfare project, both before and during the public health emergency. Their collective experience reveals timely, nuanced insight about how they were supported and positioned through the BSC to adjust their work to confront the unique barriers raised by this unusual time. The BSC also enabled the teams to find opportunities by using and tracking small tests of change that helped them break down their strategies for engaging fathers into manageable steps.

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