Literature Review

Study of Fathers’ Involvement in Permanency
Planning and Child Welfare Casework

Prepared under contract to ASPE, with funding from ACF

Freya Sonenstein, Karin Malm, and Amy Billing
The Urban Institute

Submitted to:
Federal Project Officer: Laura Feig Radel
Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

August 2002

This report is available on the Internet at:

How to Obtain a Printed Copy



Fathers’ Involvement in Permanency Planning and
Child Welfare Casework: Literature Review

This review summarizes existing literature and knowledge about non-custodial fathers and their relations with children involved in the child welfare system. It sets the stage for a three-year study being conducted by the Urban Institute and the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) to provide the Federal Government with a description of the extent to which child welfare agencies identify, locate, and involve non-custodial fathers in case decision making and permanency planning. Non-custodial fathers are biological fathers who do not reside with their children usually because of divorce, separation or a non-marital birth. Increased interest in fathers and acknowledgement of their contributions to family stability and children’s healthy development have focused attention in the child welfare field on the tasks of locating biological fathers and involving them in case planning.

To complete this review we conducted an exhaustive search of literature and materials about fathers and child welfare services. Although we focused our search on research and literature specific to fathers and the child welfare system, more general topics related to fatherhood, non-custodial fathers, paternity establishment, and child support were also reviewed. Preliminary work included use of Internet and literature search engines, including Google, Yahoo, Altavista, Lexis Nexis, PsycINFO, Social Sciences Citation Index, and Sociological Abstracts, to identify scholarly research studies and publications related to our topics of interest. Bibliographies of published and unpublished documents were reviewed to identify additional resources. We searched a wide variety of government, higher education institutions, non-profit and for-profit organizations, and foundation web sites(1) in order to identify a variety of resources including funded programs and research and evaluation reports of fatherhood programs. Throughout the literature review, we held numerous discussions with experts(2) in the fields of child welfare and fatherhood issues, and we identified additional sources of information to pursue. All resource materials reviewed are presented in an annotated bibliography included as Appendix A.

In addition, this review includes preliminary results from an Urban Institute study on relative caregiving funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.(3) The study is designed to provide information on how child welfare agencies identify and recruit relatives to care for children needing out-of-home placement, how workers make decisions about placing children with their relatives, and the service needs of relative caregivers. Focus groups of workers and supervisors included discussions of diligent search efforts for fathers and how paternity establishment affects the use of paternal relatives as placement resources.

The review is organized around a number of pressing questions that policy makers interested in child welfare services would like answered. For each of the following questions we summarize current knowledge and identify information gaps.

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Recent Trends in Children’s Living Arrangements

This section describes recent trends in the involvement of fathers in today’s families. While we are particularly interested in children and families involved with the child welfare system, many of the trends in the general population also affect and are sometimes magnified among children served by child welfare agencies. These trends include declines in marriage, increases in non-marital childbearing, rising rates of incarceration, and rising rates of foster care placement.

With declines in marriage, increases in non-marital childbearing, and relatively stable but high rates of divorce and remarriage, an increasing share of children in the U.S. spend substantial portions of their childhoods apart from their biological fathers. The proportion of children under 18 living apart from their biological fathers has grown in the last two decades. Children living with only their mothers have increased from 18 percent of the U.S. child population in 1980 to 23 percent in 1999. Among black children, the proportion increased from 44 percent to 52 percent, and it increased from 20 percent to 27 percent among Hispanic children.(4) These statistics cause concern because of the documented association between single parenthood and economic deprivation. Families facing these deprivations are also more likely to be at risk of child neglect and abuse, and may come to the attention of child protective services.

Although it is not always evident, children living in families designated as “two parent families” may also have a parent who lives elsewhere because the other parent has remarried or re-partnered. Overall, the share of children living in two parent families has declined in the last twenty years from 77 to 68 percent. But, in addition, approximately one in ten of the children in these “two parent families” are estimated to live without one of their biological parents.(5) Thus, the proportion of children living without one of their birth parents is higher than the single parenthood statistics would indicate and the share has been increasing.

The most recent estimate from the 1997 National Survey of America’s Families (NSAF) is that one in three children under age 18 now lives apart from one of their parents. Most of these children (83 percent) live apart from their biological fathers. In 1997, there were 19 million children with non-custodial biological fathers representing 27 percent of children under age 18 (Sorensen and Zibman, 2000).

Increased father absence can also occur for reasons other than the decline in marriages. Rising rates of incarceration, especially of African American men, have also contributed to father absence among U.S. children. Since 1973, rates of imprisonment have grown four-fold. In 1999, 1 in every 110 males and 1 in every 29 African American males in the U.S. was sentenced to at least a year’s confinement (Travis, Solomon, & Waul, 2001). Approximately 55 percent of male State and 63 percent of male Federal prisoners are fathers; they report having a child under the age of 18 (Mumola, 2000). The remarkable increases in U.S. imprisonment rates of men and of fathers has led to a situation in which it is now estimated that 1 in 10 U.S. children have a parent in prison, in jail, on probation or on parole (This statistic is awaiting vetting by the Bureau of Justice Statistics). Such parents face multiple impediments to protecting and caring for their children. The growth of families with one or more incarcerated parents likely places an extra burden on the child welfare system. Almost 2 percent of fathers in prison, for example, report a child living in a foster home compared to close to 10 percent of mothers in prison (Mumola, 2000).

A small share of children (4 percent) live apart from both parents. This proportion has remained steady over the last two decades. There are, however, wide variations by race and ethnicity. While 3 percent of white children under age 18 live with neither parent, the proportion is 10 percent for black children and 5 percent for Hispanic children (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, 2000). Most of these children (91 percent) live with their relatives. A small but growing portion of this kinship care population (21 percent) is supervised by the child welfare system as kin foster care (National Survey of America’s Families, 1999). The remaining children are in non-kin foster care or other arrangements. In 1998, the rate of children placed in foster care, either with kin or non-kin, was 8 per 1000 children, a rate that was double the 1982 rate. Thus, the foster care population of children, who are the focus of our study, constitute a very small, but growing, proportion of all children and of children experiencing father absence.

This evidence documents the growing share of children who do not live with their biological fathers. Shifts in marriage and childbearing patterns, as well as increased incarceration rates of men in their prime childbearing and child-raising years, translate into more and more children in the U.S. living apart from their biological fathers. It is likely that the proportion of children in the child welfare system with non-custodial fathers is greater than the share of children overall and is rising concurrently with the overall trends. However, as will be documented later, it is difficult to estimate the proportion of children in the child welfare system affected by declining rates of resident fathers.

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Policy Shifts Encouraging More Father Involvement

The trends that have led to increasing numbers of U.S. children experiencing father absence have sparked a good deal of concern among policy makers and program administrators. As a result, a number of initiatives described below have been implemented or proposed to promote father involvement. As more attention has focused on enforcing the rights and responsibilities of biological fathers, child welfare policy makers and administrators have also had to come to terms with how to deal with the non-custodial fathers of children in out-of-home placement. The nature of these efforts reflects more general shifts in fatherhood policies as well as the more specific shifts in child welfare policy that encourage permanency planning.

Early in his administration, President Bush signaled that increasing father involvement in children’s lives would be a high priority. He declared that he was “determined to make committed, responsible fatherhood a national priority” (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2001). More recently the administration has supported a legislative initiative, The Promotion and Support of Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Marriage Act, which, if passed, would authorize $64 million over FY2002 - FY 2006 for various fatherhood initiative projects. It would add a Part C - Fatherhood Program to Title IV of the Social Security Act, and would support projects designed to test promising approaches to: 1) promoting parenting through counseling, mentoring, parent education; 2) assisting low-income and employed fathers to take advantage of education, job training and job search programs, and to encourage their payment of child support; 3) educating, counseling, and mentoring fathers in matters including household management, banking, time management and home maintenance; and 4) encouraging healthy marriages through premarital education, therapy, divorce education and reduction programs, mediation, relationship skills enhancement, and violence prevention. Reflecting the priorities of the Bush Administration, the Assistant Secretary for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has stated that promoting responsible fatherhood and family formation is one of his top priorities.(6)

These new initiatives reinforce and complement the emergence of programs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services which have grown during the last decade as the last two administrations and Congress have made promoting strong families and fatherhood a national objective The first of these efforts focused on enforcing fathers’ financial obligations when marriages ended or did not occur. Starting in 1975, Congress established an open-ended entitlement for child support enforcement services for all families receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). Since that time Congress has steadily enacted various reforms to strengthen child support enforcement policies. These federal reforms include:

These efforts have strengthened the ability of state agencies to establish paternity, to set up child support orders, and to enforce these orders. They appear to have significantly increased the success of child support enforcement activities. For example, never-married mothers experienced a fourfold increase in their child support receipt rate between 1976 and 1997 (Sorensen & Halpern, 2000). In his 2002 State of the Union Address, President Bush recently called for yet another reform in this area, requesting a change in the program so that fathers’ payments would go to their children directly rather than towards past-due child support for previous welfare payments for their children.

Another recent change has been the integration of child support enforcement requirements into a wide variety of federal programs. Approval of applications for AFDC and now TANF and Medicaid (for parents) has long been contingent on cooperation with the child support agency. Now other federal and state programs are requiring participation in the child support program as a condition of program eligibility. In order to receive Food Stamps, for example, a single custodial parent must make efforts to gain financial assistance from the non-custodial parent. In some states, parents are required to participate in child support enforcement in order to receive financial assistance for child care.

Given these changes, it is not surprising that attention has now turned to how child support enforcement might complement and bolster states’ efforts to protect and support children who have experienced abuse or neglect. Indeed, foster care agencies are required to take steps where appropriate to secure an assignment to the state of any rights to support on behalf of a child receiving foster care maintenance payments (U.S. Congress, House Committee on Ways and Means, 2000). Anecdotally, states are reporting increased interest in securing child support payments for children in foster care. Data from the past three years support this contention with the total amount of collections(7) reported to the Federal government increasing from a total of $37.1 million (FY99) to $52 million (FY01) (Bess, Andrews, Jantz, & Russell, forthcoming).

Other related federal initiatives focus on promoting the motivation and capacity of low-income fathers to help their children. Demonstration projects have been mounted to test the impact of providing employment services, peer support, and help in arranging visitation with their children in connection with child support collection efforts. These efforts include the Partners for Fragile Families program, the Responsible Fatherhood program, and the Access and Visitation program. To date, these demonstration projects have been small-scale efforts. However the administration’s proposal for welfare reform reauthorization includes a $300 million investment in programs that encourage healthy, stable marriages.

Beyond an emphasis on child support and welfare (or temporary assistance) programs, the Fatherhood Initiative at the Department of Health and Human Services has grown to be a much broader effort that also includes linkages with other federal departments. There are demonstration programs to involve fathers in Early Head Start projects and in Healthy Start programs. DHHS and the Department of Education have set up a joint Fathers Matter! Program. There are efforts to identify successful state strategies to promote marriage and reduce non-marital pregnancies. Prevention programs that help men avoid fatherhood before they are mature enough to care for their children have also expanded. These efforts include the Abstinence education programs funded under PRWORA. Finally, there has been a substantial effort to increase research and evaluation related to family formation and fathering. A major cooperative activity sponsored by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics prepared a report in 1998 that is the foundation of these efforts. More recently, the Forum has prepared a fatherhood indicators report released on Fathers Day 2002. Thus, although fathers have been on the policy radar screen for about a quarter of a century, the momentum of efforts to address fathers’ lack of connection with their children has grown substantially in the last five years.

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How do the trends in non-custodial fatherhood
affect families served by child welfare agencies?

Children in the child welfare system have not been immune to the trends in increased father absence. There is evidence that the majority of children in the system have non-custodial fathers, although the exact proportion is unclear. Further, some of the recent shifts in child welfare policy have had ramifications for how non-custodial fathers are involved in case planning.

How many children in foster care have non-custodial fathers?

It is difficult to estimate how many children in the child welfare system or in foster care, particularly, have non-custodial fathers.(8) The available data suggest that the proportion is substantial. 1999 Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) data reveal that 23 states reported fairly completely on the pre-foster care family situation of children in foster care. For those states in which less than 10 percent of cases have missing data,(9) most report that at least half of the children come from single parent families headed by a female. The range was from a low of 37 percent in Oregon to a high of 88 percent in Maryland. Additional cases are reported to come from unmarried couple families, ranging from very few in Tennessee and Virginia to 37 percent in Vermont. Many of these families probably do not include both of the child’s biological parents. In addition, some unknown proportion of the cases from married couple families come from step-parent families (see Exhibit 1).

Exhibit 1
Family Structure of emoval Family for Children in Foster Care By State, 1999*
  Family Structure
Married Couple Unmarried Couple Single Female Single Male
State Percent Percent Percent Percent
Arkansas 30.6 5.9 56.5 7.0
Connecticut 20.7 14.1 60.7 4.5
24.4 8.1 64.0 3.6
25.8 20.6 47.8 5.8
31.6 18.5 41.1 8.7
24.6 9.9 59.7 5.8
42.4 0.0 50.6 7.0
8.9 0.1 87.8 3.2


25.2 10.0 60.6 4.2
25.2 13.3 56.3 5.3
41.4 6.3 46.5 5.8
New Hampshire
15.0 7.6 72.9 4.5
North Carolina
24.9 12.8 58.2 4.2
North Dakota
28.9 5.6 57.4 8.1
39.6 12.9 42.7 4.8
36.7 22.7 37.2 3.5
South Carolina
26.1 12.2 56.7 5.1
South Dakota
23.2 16.3 53.9 6.6
29.4 4.8 59.8 6.0
18.2 30.0 47.0 4.9
8.9 36.5 47.7 7.0
35.8 4.9 54.1 5.1
West Virginia
33.5 9.3 49.8 7.4
Source:  Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), Foster Care Data, Version 1, 1999.
Notes: States included in chart contain 10% or fewer cases that are missing or unable to determine on the caretaker family structure variable.
* Removal family refers to adult caretakers from whom the child was removed for the current foster care episode.

Individual states have also collected statistics, although their generalizability is severely limited. Data from 10 California counties indicate that single-parent families accounted for 79 percent of both child abuse and neglect reports and investigations, as well as 83 percent and 84 percent of case openings and foster placements, respectively (Needell, 1999). Data from a study of 450 foster care children in a large county in Southeastern Florida indicate that only 10 percent of the cases include either the child’s biological father or a paternal relative residing in the household from which the child had been removed (Rittner, 1995).

There are some data available, although limited, on the percent of children in the child welfare system for whom paternity is established. Two studies — the National Study of Protective, Preventive, and Reunification Services (NSPPRS) and the Urban Institute’s National Survey of America’s Families (NSAF) provide information on the degree to which paternity is established. The 1994 NSPPRS data indicate that paternity was known, although not necessarily established, in approximately 80 percent of child welfare cases.(10) Recent NSAF data (1999) show that the father was legally identified in 80 percent of public kinship families, but identified in only 55 percent of non-kin foster care families. The relatively low rate of father identification for non-kin foster care families may be related to the fact that the respondent was probably the foster mother, and she may not have known about the child’s paternity status.(11) This evidence suggests that although the proportion of child welfare cases with a non-custodial father is high, many of these fathers have been identified and are therefore potentially available for involvement in case planning.

What child welfare policies and practices affect the involvement of non-custodial fathers?

There are a number of shifts in child welfare policies and practices that could make the involvement of non-custodial fathers in child welfare case planning more likely. These include the provisions of the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) of 1997, the nationwide movement of the field towards concurrent case planning, the increasing use of kinship placements and the growing popularity of family decision-making in case planning. Each of these trends and their potential for increasing the role of non-custodial fathers in case planning is described below. However, no research was identified that examines whether these practices actually increase the involvement of non-custodial fathers.

ASFA requires the reduction of the time in which child welfare agencies must make permanency decisions for children in custody from 18 months to 12 months, making the early identification and location of non-custodial fathers more important. In addition, ASFA both allowed and encouraged states to use the Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS) employed by child support enforcement programs to locate fathers and other relatives. Child welfare agencies routinely identify and assess non-custodial parents as potential placement resources, and some states’ policies explicitly give preference to them. California’s policy, for example, states that “the first placement priority is for placement in the home of the non-custodial parent, or in the home of a suitable relative (if a non-custodial parent is unavailable).” Other states’ policies are more general, such as the policy in Texas that requires the agency to ensure that parents are unable or unwilling to provide care prior to placing a child in out-of-home care. Michigan’s policy manual states that while “return home” is usually the most appropriate goal when a child is first placed in foster care, where indicated, the focus may shift to the non-custodial parent’s home.

Agencies must identify non-custodial parents as early as possible so that termination of their rights, when needed, can occur swiftly. The 2000 Adoption and Permanency Guidelines from the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, state that, “At the very first hearing on a petition alleging abuse or neglect, efforts should begin to include all parents involved in the life of the child and to locate absent parents.” The guidelines go on to discuss the importance of putative fathers being located and brought into court early both to resolve paternity issues but also to avoid court delays later in the process (Grossmann, Funk, Mentaberry, & Seibel, 2000). While judicial guidelines have long sought this early identification, the implementation of ASFA has increased the likelihood that this is occurring more consistently. In addition to identifying and locating non-custodial fathers for the express purpose of accelerating the termination of parental rights, finding these fathers is important to the adoption proceedings so that the paternal side of the child’s background and medical history can be obtained prior to adoption. Finally, the resolution of such paternity issues may also be instrumental in locating and securing other paternal relatives that may be utilized in permanency planning.

Another practice within child welfare agencies, increasing nationwide, is the use of concurrent planning (U.S. General Accounting Office, 1999). This practice encourages caseworkers to pursue more than one goal for the child. From the beginning of the case process, caseworkers can simultaneously attempt to locate a permanent or adoptive home for a child while they seek to preserve or reunite the child with his/her family. Efforts to locate non-custodial fathers may occur much earlier when child welfare agencies support concurrent planning because fathers or their relatives may be a placement resource. Moreover, fathers need to be identified and located to obtain termination of parental rights if the adoption option is pursued.

Two other trends in child welfare practice, the increasing use of kinship placements and the use of family decision-making models, may affect the ways in which caseworkers identify, locate, and involve non-custodial fathers. The use of relatives or “kin” as foster parents increased significantly in the 1980s and early 1990s. One of the main factors contributing to the use of kinship care is that child welfare agencies have developed a more positive attitude toward the use of kin as foster parents. In addition, the number of non-kin foster parents has not kept pace with the number of children requiring out of home care. The increased use of kinship care may also reflect recent court decisions upholding the rights of relatives to act as foster parents and to be financially compensated for doing so (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2000). Policies and practices geared toward identifying and locating relatives as potential placements may lead workers to identify and locate non-custodial parents. Not only have agency policies shifted in favor of placement with relatives, but the focus is on finding these relatives early in the process, prior to having to place the child in a non-kin foster home.

Two studies were identified that have examined the extent to which child welfare agencies use non-custodial fathers as placement resources for children in foster care. These have limited applicability, however, because they rely on very small samples and are dated (Greif & Zuravin, 1989; Lagnese & Green, 1976). The 1989 study examined 17 fathers who had gained custody of their children after removal from a maltreating mother. The authors found that the vast majority did not have much involvement with their children prior to custody and were not eager to gain custody. After gaining custody, these fathers were not particularly cooperative with their caseworkers nor were they dependable. The 1976 study surveyed foster care workers on cases in which the father was the only significant birth parent. In at least half of the father-only cases in this study, fathers were not included in discharge planning. Reasons similar to those found with mothers, such as lack of appropriate housing or a lack of suitable child care, were the most common barriers to planning.

The increased use of kinship care within child welfare can also hasten the involvement of the non-custodial father to the extent that financial support is sought. Relatives who receive a TANF payment or foster care payment on behalf of a related child are required to cooperate with child support enforcement. States are increasingly seeking reimbursement for the cost of care of foster children through child support enforcement efforts. A significant proportion of children in foster care are eligible for federal IV-E reimbursement funds to the state.(12) Also, child welfare agencies are increasingly requiring parents to repay the cost of out-of-home placement for children ineligible for IV-E reimbursement. Relatives participating in recent focus groups on kinship care giving, conducted by the Urban Institute, noted that their offspring were upset at being required to repay the monthly foster care payment that was being provided to the relative caregiver.

Increasingly, child welfare agencies are also utilizing family group conferencing or family meetings.(13) These techniques seek to include a range of individuals — all immediate and extended family members, child welfare staff, and community provider staff — in the case process. Through the family meetings, agency staff are able to inform family members of the case particulars, the case process, agency and court procedures, as well as to solicit their input on case planning, identification of potential placement options, and permanency outcomes. During the organization and facilitation of these family meetings, agency workers are likely to obtain extensive information about the non-custodial father from other family members. Thus, agencies using this form of casework practice are probably in a better position to identify, locate and involve non-custodial fathers in case planning.

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What are the barriers to father involvement in case planning?

There are no published studies of the extent of non-custodial fathers’ involvement in child welfare case planning. Anecdotal evidence suggests that traditionally biological fathers have been overlooked in the case planning process. However, the recent trends described above have occasioned more attention to the need to involve birth fathers. A number of studies have therefore examined some of the reasons why birth fathers have not been more involved in the case planning process. The literature suggests that barriers to the involvement of non-custodial fathers in child welfare casework may be related to caseworker and systemic bias, mothers’ gate keeping, and the characteristics of non-custodial fathers. The following sections address these barriers.

Are child welfare systems biased against non-custodial fathers?

Worker bias against father involvement appears to be the most widely researched barrier to fathers’ participation in child welfare case planning. A 1990 review of five major social work journals over a 27-year period found, for example, that the literature available on fathers primarily concentrated on the negative elements of fathering. Three views of fathers emerged — fathers who were perpetrators of abuse or neglect, fathers who were missing and needed, and single-parent fathers (Greif & Bailey, 1990). Several studies have examined the extent of case worker bias against involving birth fathers in case planning, but most were conducted prior to the growth of policy interest in fathers (Dailey, 1980; Fischer, Dulaney, Hudak, & Zivotofsky, 1976; Jaffe, Lamb, & Sagi, 1983). A more recent study conducted in Salt Lake City, Utah found that workers primarily orient their services to mothers , and this pattern is true regardless of the gender of the case worker (Lazar, Sagi, & Fraser, 1991). Another recent study conducted in three New York City foster care agencies explored whether birthfathers were being ignored as a resource for discharge planning (Franck, 2001). The study found that the caseworkers did not pay attention to birth fathers to the degree they worked with birth mothers, but birth fathers also did not respond to outreach efforts as well as birth mothers. These findings suggest that the fathers had to demonstrate to the caseworker their connection to the child whereas the mothers’ connection to the child was taken for granted by the caseworkers (Franck, 2001). There is also evidence that caseworkers’ attitudes about fathers make a difference. In a small study of workers in New York City, those with more positive values and attitudes toward biological parents did in fact have greater levels of activity with these parents. The levels of activity in turn affected whether biological parents received the services they needed (Nisivoccia, 1993).

Characteristics of non-custodial fathers may contribute to this situation. A significant number of non-custodial fathers are incarcerated, homeless, significantly impaired by substance abuse, or otherwise unable to provide emotional or financial support to the mother and children (Greif & Zuravin, 1989). Additionally, while neglectful mothers are routinely provided a range of services (including housing and employment assistance) in order to maintain custody of the children, in most cases, non-custodial fathers would not be eligible for these services (Rasheed, 1999). Child welfare agencies offer family preservation and family reunification services to custodial parents, e.g., providing assistance so that children are able to remain in the home or be returned to the home. However, these same services are not routinely offered to non-custodial parents. With the increasing use of relative care, and the many supportive services being offered and provided to relatives, agencies may begin to modify the services available to non-custodial parents.

It is important to note that similar biases may also exist within family courts, among judges as well as attorneys. No research studies were found on this topic, however, the Urban Institute has collected qualitative information on the subject from focus groups with caseworkers about kinship care. In response to questions about whether or not the courts were favorable toward kinship care, the workers indicated that within individual court rooms, judges can play an integral role in whether or not a child is placed with relatives or in a non-kin foster home. A pertinent example regarding father involvement is a worker seeking child-father visitation. Even with careful preparation of the reasons why visitation should occur, the judge can make a final decision contrary to the worker’s view of what is in the best interests of the child. Likewise, searches for relatives can vary greatly, with the definition of a diligent search for a non-custodial father varying based upon the judge’s personal views.

Another example of possible judicial prejudice against fathers is the “primary caretaker preference” standard that is utilized in some jurisdictions to make custody determinations. The “primary caretaker preference” supports the idea that it is in a child’s best interests to remain with the parent who is responsible for the primary caretaking functions, thereby giving the “primary caretaker” firm preference in custody placement decisions. While the majority of states reject this standard, West Virginia, and to some degree, Minnesota, continue to uphold the primary caretaker preference in making custody decisions (Crippen, 1990; Smith, 2000). For example, in West Virginia, the primary caretaker presumption is used as the sole factor for making custody determinations (Smith, 2000). While this presumption does not explicitly state a gender preference, the result is often female parent custody.

Other women involved with non-custodial fathers can also be determining factors in whether or not non-custodial fathers gain custody of their children. One study of fathers who had gained custody of their children due to abuse or neglect perpetrated by the mother found that the presence of a stabilizing female influence in his household, either a girlfriend or wife, had a positive effect on whether the father gained custody of the children (Greif and Zuravin, 1989).

A series of factors can explain the caseworkers’ actions. Many caseworkers lack guidance and training about how to successfully engage fathers even when agency policies may dictate contact with the non-custodial father at appointed times throughout the case period. A study of incarcerated fathers, for example, concluded that little or no training was provided to child welfare workers about how best to involve these fathers in the lives of their children. Also no information was provided to the workers about the benefits to the children of involving fathers (Hairston, 1998).

Other factors influencing child welfare workers’ efforts to engage and involve non-custodial fathers include their heavy workloads in general. Caseworkers may believe that the time and energy needed to engage a previously uninvolved fathers may not be worth the effort. Although many agencies are trying to decrease caseloads, staff shortages create problems (Malm, Bess, Leos-Urbel, Geen, & Markowitz, 2001). Overburdened workers may be hesitant to involve non-custodial fathers or paternal relatives. Caseworkers participating in the Urban Institute’s focus groups on kinship care noted that involving fathers is particularly challenging for cases in which children with the same mother have different fathers. A kinship placement with a maternal relative results in placing siblings together in the same home whereas seeking paternal relatives can result in separating siblings. Paternal relatives would be unrelated to the half siblings and not given priority for placement.

Leashore (1997) suggests that the involvement of fathers may be even more difficult when white caseworkers are dealing with the fathers of African American children. Child welfare caseworkers are described as possibly having fearful or stereotyped perceptions of African American men. These caseworkers may hesitate to involve the fathers even though African American and Hispanic fathers are reported to have higher rates of shared child care responsibility than do white fathers (Leashore, 1997). Additionally, other recent research suggests that young black children benefit from the presence of nonresident fathers (Jackson, 1999).

An additional issue that may explain caseworkers’ reluctance to involve non-custodial fathers in case planning is their familiarity with male perpetrators in child abuse cases. While children are most often neglected by female perpetrators (87% by females vs. 43% by males), children are more often abused by males (67% versus 40% for females). The prevalence of male perpetrators is highest among sex abuse cases (89 percent of cases) (Sedlak & Broadhurst, 1996). Recent research also emphasizes the degree to which father surrogates, such as mothers’ boyfriends, increase the likelihood of child maltreatment (Radhakrishna, Bou-Saada, Hunter, Catellier, & Kotch, 2001). While these findings relate specifically to non-biological fathers,(14) evidence of maltreatment by males in the household may reinforce concerns about males in general, including non-custodial fathers. Further evidence about child maltreatment and domestic violence suggest that cases of violence against children and violence against women overlap in the same families for between 30 to 60 percent of the cases (Edelson, 1999). Increasingly, child welfare agencies are addressing domestic violence in child welfare cases with many agencies now providing specialized training to caseworkers, hiring domestic violence specialists, and coordinating with local domestic violence organizations. Thus, caseworkers may be involved in cases in which fathers figure prominently as the perpetrator of violence both against the mother as well as the children.

What special conditions affect unmarried non-custodial fathers?

Children may have non-custodial fathers because of the breakup of their parents’ marriage or because a marriage never occurred between the parents in the first place. Across time, the proportion of children in the U.S. with non-custodial fathers who were born outside of marriage has risen substantially. These children are less likely to have child support orders in place and to be more economically disadvantaged compared to the children of divorce. These children also pose special challenges to child welfare workers who seek to involve their biological fathers in the case planning process because paternity must be legally established prior to substantial work with these fathers or the fathers’ kin (Rasheed, 1999). Caseworkers included in the Urban Institute’s focus groups on kinship care described how one barrier to placing with paternal relatives was the fact that many of the fathers have not had their paternity adjudicated. Thus, paternal relatives could not be given priority without establishing their relationship to the child.

The development of best practices for involving non-marital fathers in child welfare case planning has probably been hindered by shifts in the case law across time and the varying approaches that states and counties have taken to establishing paternity. Below we briefly review what is known about these trends and patterns.

In the United States, the rights of fathers who are not married to the mothers of their biological children have shifted over time. Relatively recently, i.e., prior to the 1970’s, these fathers had few rights relative to their biological children. This situation began to change when Supreme Court rulings began to put in place some standards regarding the rights of these fathers. It was not until Stanley v. Illinois (1972) that unwed fathers were afforded the right to a hearing of parental fitness prior to the revocation of custodial rights to a biological child (Dapolito, 1993). Later cases, however, refined the instances in which fathers’ rights could be considered. In Quilloin v. Walcott (1978), for example, such protections are granted only to fathers that have demonstrated parental responsibilities and participation in the child’s life (Aizpuru, 1999). In Caban v. Mohammed (1979), unwed fathers gained the parental right to block the adoption of their child by withholding consent, a right which had been granted previously to mothers only (Eveleigh, 1989). Finally, in Lehr v. Robertson (1983), the court held that notice of adoptions are to be served only to fathers who have their names on the birth certificate, live with the mother, file in a paternity registry, or take other such steps to establish a substantial relationship with the child (Eveleigh, 1989). Complicating this situation is the fact that approaches to paternal registries vary from state by state, and registration deadlines may be as early as five days from the date of the child’s birth (Aizpuru, 1999). The most common result of a failure to register or establish paternity within this time period is the automatic termination of parental rights (Aizpuru, 1999). Such factors as the lack of awareness of the need to register, a lack of knowledge about the existence of the paternal registry system, or a lack of knowledge of the child’s birth among fathers could result in termination of parental rights in these cases. This circumstance was presented in McNamara v. San Diego County Department of Social Services (1988) a case in which a child was placed with an adoptive family prior to the knowledge of the father regarding the birth of his illegitimate child (Eveleigh, 1989). Subsequent to the father gaining knowledge of the child, a judicial hearing was held. In this case, a “best interests standard” was utilized to determine the placement of the child. Despite the fitness of the parental figure, custody was awarded to the non-parent due to the detrimental consequences of removal of the child from the home following many years of residence with the adoptive family. More recent case law (Case of Kelsey S., 1992) has addressed this issue to some extent, taking into consideration the behavior of the father (“fitness”) in relation to the child, as well as the “best interests” of the child (Gustafson, 1993).

What barriers do fathers face in establishing paternity?

Perhaps the most significant barrier to the establishment of paternity is currently the lack of standardization among states in accomplishing this process. In some states, a simple civil process referred to as a voluntary paternity acknowledgement is utilized (Office of Inspector General, 2000a). This method is often implemented in-hospital, but is also used in child support offices, vital records offices, and other social service agency settings (Office of Inspector General, 2000a). In 1999, this paternity establishment method was cited as being used in 45 states (National Conference of State Legislatures, 1999).

States may also utilize other administrative and judicial establishment methods, using varying levels of court involvement (See Exhibit 2). Administrative methods usually rely on the actions of the child support agency, with limited court involvement (Office of the Inspector General, 2000b). Twenty-five states use quasi-administrative paternity establishment practices (Office of the Inspector General, 2000b). In these cases, mutual parental consent is often combined with genetic testing, referred to as “Agreed Orders” or “Consent Agreements” (Office of the Inspector General, 2000b). In some cases, the only administrative method that states utilize is the voluntary paternity acknowledgement discussed above. Additionally, practices surrounding the use of genetic tests, level of judicial involvement, and time frames for acknowledgement and rescinding paternity differ by jurisdiction. Practices have been found to differ not only between states, but also within states, counties, and by particular cases within counties (Office of the Inspector General, 2000b).

Exhibit 2
Use of Paternity Establishment Methods by State, 2000
Administ/ Quasi-Judicial Judicial/Quasi Judicial State Administ/ Quasi-Judicial Judicial/Quasi Judicial
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
District of Columbia
North Dakota
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Source: Office of the Inspector General, 2000.

Judicial paternity establishment methods are utilized in approximately 26 states (Office of the Inspector General, 2000b). These typically involve the naming of a putative father through a judicial hearing, utilizing genetic testing (Office of Inspector General, 2000b). Court appearances by one or both parents may be required, with actual testimony in some cases. The level of judicial involvement and authority in paternity establishment practices varies by state, locality and caseload (Office of the Inspector General, 2000b).

The variation in the methods utilized to establish paternity as well as the variation in specific practices, timelines, and other requirements found within and across jurisdictions are likely to cause confusion among both prospective and new parents. Additionally, it is quite possible that states have varying levels of success in communicating these methods to the general public. Among those who have gained awareness, navigating the system may be difficult. The complexity of the paternity establishment process for fathers can pose a significant barrier to parental involvement with children.

Since the establishment of paternity usually results in mandated payment of child support, fathers’ unwillingness or inability to pay child support may be another barrier to establishing paternity or getting divorced fathers involved in case planning (Pons-Bunney, 1998). Certainly non-custodial fathers who cannot pay child support could be involved in their children’s lives in other ways. For example, a parent who cannot afford to contribute financial resources may be willing to contribute in other forms of non-financial support. In some cases, fathers may prefer to provide informal financial support outside of the child support system (Office of the Inspector General, 1999; Waller & Plotnick, 2001). Some have argued that this is likely if the formal payments go towards state reimbursement for the mother’s financial assistance rather than to the child and mother directly (Office of Inspector General, 1999). Thus, potential involvement in the child support system may act as a barrier in the establishment of paternity among fathers.

Do mothers pose barriers to non-custodial father involvement?

Mothers may affect the level of involvement of non-custodial fathers by failing to identify fathers initially or by downplaying the father’s importance in the child’s life. Results of the focus groups being conducted with child welfare workers for the Urban Institute’s study on kinship care provide some information about how fathers are identified. Caseworkers noted that some mothers refuse to identify the child’s father until a court hearing when a judge orders it. Early casework activities focus on “engaging” the mother in terms of encouraging her to accept treatment and take advantage of required services. While identifying the father is also a concern, workers may hesitate to reach out to the father if they think that the mother will be hostile. In addition, as the earlier discussion of domestic violence indicates, workers may be concerned that a mother’s reluctance to identify a father may be caused by fears about safety. The opinion of the child, depending upon the child’s age, will also be respected and considered by the caseworker. Caseworkers must often balance the competing demands of the child and mother with the requirements of policy and practice.

Mothers may act as “gatekeepers” either facilitating or blocking access to the father. Studies examining paternity establishment have noted the importance of the mother’s cooperation in identifying and locating the biological father. Additionally, the relationship between the father and mother, as well as the custody arrangement, can affect the frequency of involvement of the non-custodial father in his child’s life (Minton & Pasley, 1996; Seltzer, 1998). A recent evaluation of the Parents’ Fair Share Program(15) found that low-income fathers were often frustrated in their efforts to be better parents by the custodial mothers (Miller & Knox, 2001). Other studies of two-parent families have also examined maternal gatekeeping in terms of the conditions necessary for fathers and mothers to work as equal partners in caring for their homes and families (Allen & Hawkins, 1999; De Luccie, 1995).

Mothers may hesitate to notify authorities about the whereabouts of the father because of concerns that he might get in trouble with the law because he has outstanding child support payments, is an undocumented immigrant, or has outstanding arrest warrants. Relatives may also hesitate before providing this information. Relative caregivers participating in the focus groups on kinship care noted that they were reluctant to provide this information. This was either because of repercussions to them if the father determined that they had notified authorities, or because the father is in no position to provide child support (e.g., father is unemployed).

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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.

What are the effects of non-custodial father involvement on child well being?

A review of the literature on the effects of father involvement on child well being produces inconsistent information. Several studies have concluded that custodial fathers may provide children with significant advantages compared to children with non-custodial fathers. These advantages may include the promotion of healthy child development (Lamb, 1986 cited in Nord & Zill, 1996; Lamb, 1997 cited in Featherstone, 2001), higher participation in activities (Brown, Michelsen, Halle, & Moore, 2001) and socialization (McAdoo, 1993). Studies have also found that the absence of the father in the household may have detrimental effects on a child’s academic achievement, as well as emotional and social development (Gadsden, 1995; Graham, Beller, & Hernandez, 1994 cited in Garfinkel, McLanahan, and Robins, 1994; Johnson, 2001). These decrements may be the result of lower financial resources when a parent is absent (McLanahan & Sandefur, 1994).

When children have non-custodial fathers, studies suggest that the involvement of these fathers can have positive effects on their children. First, father involvement through financial contributions (i.e. child support payments) has been associated with positive benefits including higher academic achievement among children (Knox, 1996) and fewer behavior problems (Jackson, 1999; Perloff & Buckner, 1996). These positive benefits, however, appear to be conditional on the traits of the parent. For example, negative behaviors of the parent, such as substance abuse, are associated with increased child behavior problems (Perloff & Buckner, 1996). Thus, the type of parenting and quality of involvement appear to play an important role.

While several of the above studies provide evidence of the benefits of both custodial and noncustodial father involvement on child outcomes, a number of studies yield conflicting information. In a study by Furstenberg and colleagues (1987) on non-custodial paternal involvement, little evidence was gained to suggest either harmful or beneficial impacts on child well-being as a result of father participation in their child’s life (Furstenberg, Morgan & Allison, 1987). However, this study found a modest indirect effect of noncustodial paternal economic support on child problem behavior (Furstenberg et al., 1987). Similar inconclusive results have been obtained in other studies as well, suggesting few effects associated with custodial father involvement (Hawkins & Eggebeen, 1991) and no distinct patterns of noncustodial father participation in relation to child intellectual and psychosocial functioning (King, 1994). Thus, there currently appears to be a lack of consensus about the weight of the evidence on this topic.

What are the effects of non-custodial father involvement on children involved in the child welfare system?

There are a number of recent child welfare practices that make the involvement of non-custodial fathers more likely, but we found no research studies designed to examine how, and if, these practices are increasing the involvement of non-custodial fathers in child welfare casework. There was no research about the extent of child-father visitation in child welfare cases. In addition, we did not find research on the effects of father involvement in child welfare cases.

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What promising practices are currently being implemented
to identify, locate, and involve non-custodial fathers in child welfare cases?

There is recent evidence that some child welfare agencies, in conjunction with child support enforcement programs, are working diligently to identify and locate non-custodial fathers. The 1997 Adoption and Safe Families Act both allowed and encouraged states to begin to use the Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS) to locate fathers and other relatives. ASFA authorized child welfare and child support enforcement agencies to request information from the FPLS to locate individuals who have or may have parental rights to a child. Interagency agreements between the agencies were also encouraged. An informational memorandum sent January 1, 1999 to state agencies administering or supervising the administration of Title IV-D and Title IV-E of the Social Security Act provided information on using the FPLS for child welfare services. In addition, the 1993 federally-mandated Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information Systems (SACWIS) being implemented by states child welfare agencies required a link to child support data.

Efforts to coordinate child welfare and child support services may offer promise. Results from an evaluation of South Carolina’s Department of Social Services’ diligent search project showed that missing parents were located in over 75 percent of the cases referred by child welfare staff, and more than half of these cases were located in less than a month. Fathers were far more likely to be the subject of the search than mothers, representing 72 percent of the total referrals. The results also showed that in 15 percent of families there were referrals to locate more than one father. This occurred both in cases involving undetermined paternity as well as families in which multiple children had different fathers. It is important to note that 10 percent of fathers were found through the prison, probation, or parole systems.

There is also some evidence of increased state level coordination between child welfare and child support agencies in a handful of states. Interviews being conducted with child welfare administrators in all 50 states by the Urban Institute have identified a few states with increased coordination. In Kansas, for example, the child support enforcement and child welfare agencies are both emphasizing the involvement of fathers, although no joint activities are currently being undertaken. In addition, Wisconsin’s child support agency has hired paternity specialists who are available to child welfare workers to assist in identifying and locating non-custodial fathers (Bess, Andrews, Jantz, & Russell, forthcoming).

During the Urban Institute’s study of kinship care, some agencies reported that, with the increased focus on kinship care placements, specialized units have been created specifically to search for relatives, including non-custodial fathers. In other agencies, no special unit was created, yet individual caseworkers had access to the welfare agency’s data system to help locate non-custodial fathers and other relatives. It is important to note, however, that very few of the local child welfare administrators interviewed had implemented using the Federal Parent Locator System to locate non-custodial fathers. In fact, some administrators were unaware that this resource could be utilized by the child welfare system.

Other examples of promising new approaches are communities receiving Model Court project grants from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (Mentaberry, 1999). Some of these communities are implementing innovative approaches to expediting permanency for children, including projects that focus on paternity establishment and locating absent parents as primary goals. Responsible fatherhood programs and programs for incarcerated parents also provide examples of some potentially promising practices. Programs focused on prisoners, such as “Long Distance Dads” implemented by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, address the needs of incarcerated fathers. This program is a 12-week program designed to promote fatherhood and empower fathers to assume responsibility for their children both during and after incarceration. Other promising models include the F.A.C.T. Program in Kentucky, a collaborative effort between Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky and the Blackburn Correctional Complex. This program teaches fathers who are incarcerated responsible parenthood and abuse prevention, with graduates of the program entitled to special visits with their children in less restrictive environments. Another program entitled Papas and Their Children (PATCH) has been developed in San Antonio, Texas. This is a weekly program facilitating participatory activities between children and their incarcerated fathers at several State jails.

In our preliminary review of responsible fatherhood programs, we found two programs with components that may address child abuse and neglect. A fatherhood program in Hawaii is providing parenting skills for fathers in families identified as at risk for child abuse and neglect. The participating fathers are being served by a Healthy Start child abuse prevention program. In Chicago, Illinois, the Paternal Involvement Project has been a strong advocate for fathers since 1992 and was instrumental in drafting legislation that created the state’s first Non-custodial Parent Services Unit.(16)  The group is currently participating in a pilot project with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services in an effort to promote non-custodial fathers as custodial alternatives to mothers who are unable to care for children (Jeffries, Menghraj, & Hairston, 2001).

Our review has uncovered a few examples of promising new efforts to involve non-custodial fathers in child welfare case planning. However, as indicated, these efforts are fairly limited, and no rigorous evaluations have been conducted yet to assess whether the efforts lead to positive effects for the case outcomes.

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Summary and Conclusions

It seems clear that the recent trends putting more emphasis on the involvement of non-custodial fathers in their children’s lives are likely to affect the families served by child welfare agencies. Many child welfare families are also part of the TANF caseload, the majority of whom are single parent families. While no national data exists on the percent of children in foster care who have non-custodial fathers, the likelihood of this being a significant portion is high. Enhanced efforts to establish paternity and enforce child support orders within the TANF population will therefore affect child welfare families. Increasingly, child welfare agencies are also seeking to recoup the cost of foster care payments through child support collection.

For the most part, this literature review has revealed the dearth of research specific to the topic of non-custodial father involvement in the child welfare system. While a few studies have focused attention on fathers as placement resources for their children, there was no research about child-father visitation or on the effects of involving fathers in the lives of children being served by child welfare agencies. Additionally, while the nature of recent policy reforms and initiatives, e.g., expedited permanency planning, concurrent planning, and family group meetings, lead us to believe that child welfare agencies will increasingly identify, locate, and involve non-custodial fathers in casework and permanency planning, the current lack of research means that there is no evidence to predict the likely effects of these shifts in case practice.

An area that has received some attention over the years is that of caseworker bias against fathers. While studies have concluded that bias does exist, the findings are limited to small scale, non-generalizable studies conducted several years ago. In addition, there is some evidence that mothers can present barriers to greater father involvement. Studies of non-custodial fathers in general have identified certain characteristics — such as unemployment, substance abuse, and incarceration — as barriers to greater involvement with their children. Not surprisingly, child welfare caseworkers do not consider these characteristics, when they are present, as markers of a good placement option for a child.

There are some limited efforts to promote collaborations between child welfare and child support enforcement agencies. The results of the South Carolina diligent search project appear promising. The focus of this effort thus far appears to be on identifying and locating fathers primarily for the purposes of expediting the termination of parental rights, thereby hastening adoption proceedings. Other collaborative efforts are focused on increasing child support collections. Few programs, with the exception of the parental involvement project in Illinois, focus attention on finding non-custodial fathers as placement resources.

The lack of basic research about how non-custodial fathers are involved in the child welfare permanency planning process provides a strong rationale for the current study which will examine case work practices in five states. For these five states, the study will provide information that is currently not available about:

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1.  Government web sites included U.S. Administration for Children and Families, General Accounting Office, Department of Justice (Bureau of Justice Statistics), Office of the Inspector General, Welfare Information Network. Non-profit organization web sites included Child Welfare League of America, National Conference of State Legislatures, Annie E. Casey foundation, Child Trends, Family Support America, National Practitioners Network for Fathers and Families, and the National Fatherhood Initiative. University web sites included the University of Pennsylvania (National Center on Fathers and Families), Columbia University (National Center for Children in Poverty), National Conference of State Legislatures, University of Wisconsin-Madison (Institute for Research on Poverty, Princeton University (Center for Research on Child Well-Being & Independent Publications), University of Michigan (Institute for Social Research), and Northwestern University (Institute for Policy Research). For-profit organizational web sites included Caliber Associates, Research Triangle Institute, and Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation.

2.  Mark Courtney, Jay Fagan, Ellen Franck, James Gleeson, Sydney Hans, Mark Hardin, Waldo Johnson, Kristen Shook Slack, Esther Wattenberg, Aisha Ray, and Fred Wulczyn.

3.  Focus groups were held with workers, supervisors, and relative caregivers in 13 counties in 4 states.

4.  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. 2000.  Trends in the Well-being of America’s Children and Youth. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office (p. 41).

5.  This estimate is based on the findings reported in Fields, J. 2001. Living Arrangements of Children: Fall 1996. Current Population Reports. Washington, D.C. : U.S. Census Bureau (p.70-74).

6.  Responding to the question, “What are the Administration for Children and Families’ key priorities for 2002?” on the Administration for Children and Families’ web site,

7.  The total amount to be divided between state and Federal governments to reimburse for their respective shares of Title IV-E.

8.  There are cases in the child welfare system in which children are not placed in out-of-home care. For example, a child may remain at home but the birth parent will be required to comply with services and the home will be monitored regularly by a child welfare caseworker.

9.  A lack of cases may indicate that the data are not collected.

10.  Figures are the result of Urban Institute tabulations of NSPPRS data.

11.  This includes children placed with relatives by child welfare agencies regardless of whether the child was taken into state custody.

12.  Title IV-E is the largest federal funding stream dedicated for child welfare. The IV-E foster care program, an open-ended entitlement, reimburses states for maintenance payments provided to cover the cost of children living in out-of-home care.

13.  There are several models being implemented including the family unity model being used in Oregon since 1990 and family group conferences, originating in New Zealand in 1989.

14.  In fact, the presence of a biological father in the home is slightly less than but not statistically significantly different than the likelihood of abuse in a home with just the biological mother (Radhakrishna et al. 2001).

15.  Parents’ Fair Share was the first national demonstration program aimed at increasing child support payments, employment and earnings, and parental involvement of noncustodial fathers with children receiving welfare (Miller & Knox, 2001).

16.  The Non-Custodial Parent Services Unit is part of the Illinois Department of Public Aid, Division of Child Support Enforcement.

How to Obtain a Printed Copy

To obtain a printed copy of this report, mail or fax the title and your mailing information to:

Human Services Policy, Room 404E
Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Av, SW
Washington, DC 20201
Fax: (202) 690-6562

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Last updated: 12/03/02