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More about the Dads

Exploring Associations between Nonresident Father Involvement and Child Welfare Case Outcomes

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Document date: March 25, 2008
Released online: March 26, 2008

The nonpartisan Urban Institute publishes studies, reports, and books on timely topics worthy of public consideration. The views expressed are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the Urban Institute, its trustees, or its funders.

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Abstract

This study follows up on a prior study of child welfare agencies' efforts to identify, locate, and involve nonresident fathers of children in foster care. These analyses use information from the original survey and administrative data on case outcomes to explore three research questions: (1) Is nonresident father involvement associated with case length? (2) Is nonresident father involvement associated with foster care discharge outcomes? and (3) Is nonresident father involvement associated with subsequent child maltreatment allegations? The study finds that having an involved father is associated with shorter case length and a greater likelihood of reunification. Future research is needed to better understand the nature of nonresident fathers’ involvement.


Executive Summary

In 2006, HHS published a study regarding child welfare agencies' efforts to identify, locate, and involve nonresident fathers of children in foster care. That study was based on telephone interviews with caseworkers in four states (Arizona, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Tennessee) about specific children in their caseloads. Its findings, described in the report, What about the Dads? Child Welfare Agencies' Efforts to Identify Locate and Involve Nonresident Fathers, are primarily descriptive in nature. Because all children in the sample were in foster care at the time of the caseworker interviews, the original study could not examine the relationship between father involvement and case outcomes. By design, none of the cases had outcomes when the original data collection occurred.

This report, using administrative data supplied by each of the states that participated in the original study, examines case outcomes for the children whose caseworkers were previously interviewed. At the time data were extracted for this follow-up analysis, approximately two years had passed since the original interviews, and most of the children (75 percent) had exited foster care. These analyses use information from the original survey about whether the father had been identified and contacted by the child welfare agency and about the contacted fathers' level of involvement with their children, combined with administrative data about case outcomes two years later, to explore three research questions: (1) Is nonresident father involvement associated with case length? (2) Is nonresident father involvement associated with foster care discharge outcomes? and (3) Is nonresident father involvement associated with subsequent child maltreatment allegations? It should be noted that while findings indicate associations between father involvement and case outcomes, causality cannot be determined.

(End of excerpt. The entire report is available in PDF format.)



Topics/Tags: | Children and Youth | Families and Parenting


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