Study of Fathers’ Involvement in Permanency Planning and Child Welfare Casework . What are the potential effects of father involvement in case planning?


Current research suggests that the majority of non-custodial fathers are engaged in their child’s life to some extent. In 1997, half (52 percent) of children with a nonresident parent received financial assistance from their nonresident parent and 72 percent had some contact with that parent in the past year. (Sorensen & Zibman, 2000). In a study of unwed fathers conducted by Johnson (2001), 75 percent to 96 percent were highly involved with their children at birth. However, this participation varies by the age of the child, tending to decrease over time (Lerman & Sorensen, 2000). An ongoing qualitative study of low-income, non-custodial fathers in Philadelphia offers a detailed look at how low-income nonresident fathers view fatherhood. While many of the fathers noted that their children had made them change from their “street” lifestyle, most had done little for their children, particularly as their children aged. (Nelson, Edin, & Lundquist, 2001). These data lead us to wonder what the extent of non-custodial father involvement is in the lives of children in the child welfare system and what are the anticipated benefits of involving these fathers to a greater extent.