Examine Outlines Components That Assist Have interaction Nonresident Fathers in Youngster Welfare Efforts

A recent study outlines a number of things social service providers should be aware of if they want to involve non-resident fathers in efforts to ensure the well-being of their children. The study also highlights the need for more formal training to help service providers work more effectively with non-resident fathers.

Non-resident fathers are fathers who do not live with their child’s primary caregiver.

“We know that the engagement of non-resident fathers is positively linked to the emotional well-being, mental health and academic success of children – and the well-being of the fathers themselves,” says Qiana Cryer-Coupet, correspondent author of the study and associate professor for Social Work from North Carolina State University. “However, during the college-level social work course with students doing field research, it became clear that students would benefit from additional training to involve non-resident fathers on childcare, parenting and child welfare issues.”

As a step in developing this training, Cryer-Coupet and her staff hired a cohort of 20 social service providers with experience and expertise in engaging fathers. Fourteen of the study participants were men.

“We knew that non-resident fathers were more likely to feel engaged when they worked with male social workers,” says Cryer-Coupet. “So we deliberately sought out male social workers to see what they are doing and how they approach their efforts to work with fathers on their casework.”

Researchers conducted semi-structured interviews with study participants to better understand what practitioners believe they have prepared to effectively involve fathers in issues related to their children.

“We found a number of key points that kept popping up that allowed us to identify values, traits, and mindsets that might make it easier to engage fathers,” says Cryer-Coupet.

Four of these key points were:

  • Question your own prejudices. Take a self-exam to determine how and if beliefs based on your lived experiences can interfere with your ability to develop meaningful relationships with non-resident fathers.
  • Self-disclosure. Sharing experiences with the father can help build a relationship. Additionally, openly discussing issues of concern to a social worker or father can help alleviate those concerns and create clear lines of communication.
  • Respect. Fathers need to feel respected and their role as father of the child should also be recognized as important, even if he does not live in the child’s household.
  • Joint decision-making. Social workers may already be familiar with family goals from the mother, guardian, or the court system. However, it is important to know what goals the father has in terms of both the best interests of the child and the father’s relationship with the child and the caregiver.

The study “Engaging Nonresident Fathers: Exploring Collaborative Competencies in Support of Family-Centered Practice” was published in the journal Research on Social Work Practice. The paper was written by McKenzie Stokes, a recent Ph.D. Graduate of the NC state; Brianna Lemmons, assistant professor of social work at Baylor University; and Marquitta Dorsey, Assistant Professor of Social Work at Loyola University Chicago.

The work was carried out with funding from the Fatherhood Research and Practice Network, located at Temple University and supported by the U.S. Department of Health.

– boatman –

Note to the editors: The study summary follows.

“Involvement of Non-Resident Fathers: Researching Collaborative Competencies to Support Family-Centered Practice”

Authors: Qiana R. Cryer-Coupet and McKenzie N. Stokes, North Carolina State University; Brianna P. Lemmons, Baylor University; and Marquitta Dorsey, Loyola University

Published: June 24th, Research on Social Work Practice

DOI: 10.1177 / 10497315211022830

Abstract: Social service providers in a variety of sectors struggle to consistently involve non-resident fathers in service delivery. A growing body of research shows that the characteristics and attitudes of doctors can help increase loyalty and engagement in this group of men. These results coincide with the latest mandates from political decision-makers at the federal level to increase the involvement of non-resident fathers in family-centered practical approaches. A central concern in this context is the family-work relationship. Using a collaborative competency model, the current study seeks to advance this line of research by examining practitioners’ perceptions of their willingness to engage non-resident fathers. Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with 20 social service workers who have experience working with non-resident fathers. Targeted content analysis revealed key aspects of intrapersonal, interpersonal, and professional collaborative skills that practitioners believe are important in enabling meaningful father involvement. Implications for practice and future research regarding effective social work practice with non-resident fathers are discussed.

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