Child Welfare Casework With Nonresident Fathers of Children in Foster Care. Workload and Safety Concerns

12/01/2006

Administrators were concerned that increasing father involvement would create more work for overburdened caseworkers. Involving a father and his kin in a case introduces more people with whom workers must consult. Some administrators stressed that the term "father involvement" evokes an image of a single father per case, whereas the reality is that a sibling group with the same mother may have multiple fathers. Involving each child's father in a case of this sort could overwhelm a caseworker, making his or her attempts to engage fathers less likely. Almost half (44%) of caseworkers echoed these concerns, either agreeing or strongly agreeing with the statement "dealing with a nonresident father makes a case more complicated." In addition, almost a quarter of the unidentified father cases had more than one father named at some point in the case. Such cases may tend to overwhelm and frustrate caseworkers in their attempts to involve fathers.

Administrators expressed concern that involving fathers could reintroduce potential abusers into volatile family situations. Domestic violence was identified as a problem area for one third (33%) of the nonresident fathers in the study and in a significant percentage of additional cases (18%) workers did not know whether domestic violence was an issue. Workers may also be concerned for their own safety in dealing with nonresident fathers with violent histories.

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