Engaging Fathers and Paternal Relatives: A Continuous Quality Improvement Approach in the Child Welfare System, 2017 - 2023

Evidence suggests that fathers play an important role in children's development and that they can serve as a key source of emotional and financial support. In many social services, however, fathers are overlooked. This is the case in the child welfare system, where data from the Child and Family Service Reviews indicate that fathers and paternal relatives are minimally engaged and may be untapped resources.

The purpose of this project is to bridge the gap between what we know about the importance of fathers and practices in the child welfare system that may contribute to low levels of father and paternal relative engagement. Partnering with the Office of Family Assistance (which oversees the Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood discretionary grant program) and the Children’s Bureau, this project aims to:

  • Synthesize what we already know about a) efforts to engage fathers and paternal relatives of children involved in the child welfare system, and b) Continuous Quality Improvement approaches within the child welfare system;
  • Map “touch points” within a child welfare case where fathers and/or paternal relatives could be more fully engaged;
  • Identify potential strategies and interventions that could be used at the touch points to increase their engagement;
  • Select a collaborative Continuous Quality Improvement approach and use it to work intensively with a few sites to implement and test these father and paternal relative engagement strategies and interventions;
  • Conduct a pilot study to examine the feasibility and implementation of the Continuous Quality Improvement approach and the engagement strategies and interventions; and
  • Conduct an evaluation of the selected continuous learning methodology and the engagement strategies and interventions.

This contract was awarded to Mathematica, with a subcontract to the University of Denver.

Point(s) of contact: Pooja Curtin and Katie Pahigiannis.

Information collections related to this project have been reviewed and approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs under ACF’s Generic Clearances. Related materials are available at the following pages on RegInfo.gov:

Formative Data Collections for ACF Research (OMB #0970-0356)

Formative Data Collections for ACF Program Support (OMB #0970-0531)

Related Resources

OPRE’s Fathers and Continuous Learning project has published a brief on the unexpected challenges teams participating in the project's Breakthrough Series Collaborative faced during COVID-19, and their innovative adaptations to allow the work to continue.

OPRE’s Fathers and Continuous Learning project has published a report on the pilot study of the implementation of a Breakthrough Series Collaborative on engaging fathers and paternal relatives in the child welfare system.