Where Are All the Dads?: Exploring the Barriers to Engaging Fathers In Child Protective Services Cases and the Strategies to Overcoming the Barriers
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Child Protective Services (CPS) attempts to make sure that children who are abused have a safe place to live. This requires CPS to work with parents to help them change unsafe behavior that resulted in their child's removal from their care. More often than not, the only parent cooperating and participating with CPS is the mother. A father's participation in CPS services can potentially drastically improve the future of his child. This research study explores the barriers to engaging fathers in Child Protective Services cases and examines the strategies to overcoming those barriers. The mother's obstruction of the father's participation, caseworker and systemic bias and the father's distrust of the system are barriers identified by the literature and supported by the CPS caseworkers. Interviews of 18 current and former Child Protective Services caseworkers are used in this study. The results supported expectations that caseworkers have insights about the barriers to engaging fathers and strategies for overcoming these barriers. The strategies identified by the CPS Caseworkers include improving communication and cooperation between mothers and fathers, improving caseworker education, and creating father friendly practices.