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Engaging Fathers in Child Welfare Cases: Tips for Lawyers and Judges


Engaging Fathers in Child Welfare Cases: Tips for Lawyers and Judges Presented by: Ron J. Clark Kevin Brown Richard Cozzola Judge James W. Payne – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Engaging Fathers in Child Welfare Cases: Tips for Lawyers and Judges

Engaging Fathers in Child Welfare Cases Tips
for Lawyers and Judges
  • Presented by
  • Ron J. Clark
  • Kevin Brown
  • Richard Cozzola
  • Judge James W. Payne

Why Fathers Matter Ron J. Clark, MPP
Who We Are
  • Non-profit, non-partisan,
    non-sectarian organization
  • Founded in 1994 to combat the most consequential
    social trend of our time
  • Widespread Fatherlessness in the
  • Lives of Our Nations Children

NFIs mission
  • To improve the well-being of children by
    increasing the proportion of children growing up
    with involved, responsible, and committed fathers
    in their lives.

Educate - The Facts of Father Absence
  • In 1960, 8 million children lived in
    father-absent homes
  • Today, over 24 million children live in homes
    without their fathers
  • 1 out of 3 children nationally live in
    father-absent homes
  • 2 out of 3 African American children live in
    father-absent homes

Proportion of Children in Father-Absent HomesAll
data is from The Living Arrangements of
Children, U.S. Census Bureau, 2005.
Educate - The Effects of Father Absence
  • Studies show that children with involved fathers
  • better cognitive outcomes, even as infants
  • higher self-esteem and less depression as
  • higher grades, test scores, and overall academic
  • lower levels of drug and alcohol use
  • higher levels of empathy and other pro-social
  • All data from Father Facts, 5th Ed., 2007.
  • Children of father-absent homes are
  • Five times more likely to live in poverty
  • Three times more likely to fail in school
  • Two times more likely to develop emotional or
    behavioral problems
  • Two times more likely to abuse drugs
  • Two times more likely to be abused and neglected
  • Two times more likely to become involved in crime
  • Three times more likely to commit suicide

Why Child Welfare Must Focus on Father
  • Compared to living with both parents, living in a
    single-parent home doubles the risk that a child
    will suffer physical, emotional, or educational
    neglect. (Americas Children, 1997).
  • Children in father absent homes are five times
    more likely to be poor. In 2002, 7.8 percent of
    children in married-couple families were living
    in poverty, compared to 38.4 percent of children
    in female-only households. (U.S. Census Bureau,
  • Fathers are absent from the homes of about 75 of
    the children placed in foster care (QIC-NRF
    Project Sites Preliminary Finding).

  • Engaging fathers of foster children can be
    important not only for the potential benefit of a
    child-father relationship (when such a
    relationship does not pose a risk to the child's
    safety or well-being), but also for making
    placement decisions and gaining access to
    resources for the child.
  • Once in foster care, these children may
    experience less contact with their non-resident
  • There has been lack of attention to family
    structure and to fathers in child welfare ----
    child welfare reviews and national reporting of
    child welfare data

Good News!
  • Decrease in father absence in past 4 years
  • 34.5 percent of children (2004) to 32.6 (2008)
  • 2 million more children live in homes with their
    biological fathers
  • 2008 U.S. Census Bureau

  • Quality Improvement Center on Nonresident Fathers
  • www.fatherhoodqic.org
  • National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse
  • www.fatherhood.gov
  • National Fatherhood Initiative
  • www.fatherhood.org

Father-Friendly Check-Up
  • Tool to help agencies create an environment that
    involves non-resident fathers and foster the
    healthy development of children
  • Seven Assessment Areas
  • Leadership Organization Philosophy
  • Program Management Policies Procedures
  • Parent Involvement Program
  • Program Physical Environment
  • Staff Training Professional Development
  • Collaboration Organizational Networking
  • Community Outreach

Educate - Outdoor PSAs
Promising Practices Recruitment
  • Why Do Men Get Involved In Fatherhood Programs?
  • Talk with other dads
  • Child support
  • Help with locating resources
  • Parenting tips

Promising Practices Recruitment
  • Key Recruiter Characteristics
  • Firmth (Firm plus warmth)
  • Keep your word
  • Persistence
  • No limit Outside the box mentality
  • Good listener
  • Offers real solutions
  • No fear of fathers and/or their environment

Where are the fathers?
  • Fishing Locations
  • Hunting Locations
  • Sporting Events
  • Bass Pro type venues
  • Barbershops
  • Fire Stations
  • Correction Facilities
  • Healthcare Facilities
  • Educational Facilities
  • Entertainment Facilities
  • Restrooms
  • Businesses
  • Religious Institutions
  • Military
  • Airports
  • Racing Facilities

Societal Factors That Influence the Development
of Manhood Fatherhood
  • Discouraging the expression of
  • emotions -- Real men dont cry
  • Anger is an acceptable male
  • emotion
  • Dominant, disconnected and
  • dangerous
  • Being physically strong
  • Ambition and competition
  • Good occupational functioning
  • Athletic ability
  • Economic success
  • Sexual conquests

(No Transcript)
What Fathers Say
  • Many men are dealing with depression and other
    mental health challenges.
  • Program staff/facilitator/recruiter may need to
    deal with other major issues before addressing
    the fatherhood/child welfare issue (i.e.,
    homelessness, substance abuse, transportation,
    mental health).

What Fathers Say
  • Fathers feel like no one is hearing them or
    advocating for them.
  • Recruiter/Facilitator needs to listen to the
    fathers needs before pushing the paperwork or
  • Facilitator will initially serve as fathers
    source of courage and self-esteem.

What Fathers Say
  • Many men lack confidence in government programs
    because of past unfulfilled commitments from
    government programsex., completed job training
    program but never received job.
  • Men feel inadequate to face court system alone.
    Me vs. The World mentality.
  • Self support is criticalIf you cant take care
    of yourself, its hard to focus on your child or
    the program.

What Fathers Say
  • Due to personal father-absence, many men do not
    have any idea how to be a fatherThey learn
    parenting in the processOur kids are teaching
    us how to be parents.

What Fathers Say
  • Show successful stories of fathers via video who
    have regained custody of their children.
  • Facilitator needs to consistently and continually
    acknowledge minor and major progress steps by the

What Children Say
  • If your father wasnt involved in your life, did
    you want to know him better or see him more?
  • Yes-- Hes in my life but I would love to be able
    to see him more.
  • Yes Because I still love him.
  • No I turned out fine without him.
  • Yes I wanted to see him and know him better.
  • Yes The system continued to schedule visits
    with my mom but would not let us have visits with
    my dad.
  • Yes I would love it if my dad was there my
    whole life.
  • Yes Because its kinda hard being without a
    dad and so many things are going wrong
  • Yes I want to feel like I have an actual
    father. I want to feel like he cares. I
    want to know my father. I want to feel like I
    actually have a father.

Margaret Mead
The primary task of every civilization is to
teach the young men to be fathers.
Thank You!
  • Ron J. Clark, MPP
  • Consultant
  • Ronjclark_at_aol.com
  • (757) 344-5685

One Fathers Story
  • Kevin Brown is a father who is the primary
    caretaker for his three teenage children.  He has
    been their primary caretaker since they were
    returned to him from the Illinois foster care
    system in 2002.  He is also a member of the Board
    of Directors of the Legal Assistance Foundation
    of Chicago.  Mr. Brown is a member of Narcotics
    Anonymous and has been clean for 13 years. He has
    spoken at the National Conference for Court
    Appointed Special Advocates and at the Annual
    Luncheon of the Legal Assistance Foundation of
    Chicago. Mr. Brown grew up in Mississippi and
    lives in Chicago. 

Representing Fathers inChild Welfare Cases
  • Richard Cozzola
  • Director-Child Family Practice Group
  • LAF Chicago IL.
  • With references to ABA Publication
  • Advocating for Non-resident Fathers in
  • Child Welfare Court Cases
  • (Vivek Sankaran, Andrew Cohen, Hon. Len Edwards)

Constitutional IssuesVivek Sankaran
  • To determine level of constitutional protection,
    look to level of involvement grasping the
  • Quilloin and Lehr Fathers who have not made
    effort to establish relationship with children,
    cannot use Constitution to disrupt placement.
  • Importance therefore of establishing parental
    relationship via affidavit, registry, court
  • If relationship exists entitled to due process
  • If no relationship, was there a meaningful
    opportunity or was relationship blocked by

Protections Under State Law Vivek Sankaran
  • Notice/opportunity to be heard/participate
  • Visitation/Court appointed counsel
  • Presumption of parental fitness
  • But many states non resident fathers lose
    presumption once finding that child was abused
    regardless of parent who abused child once this
    happens burden shifts for father custody.
  • Or father gets physical custody but court retains
    legal custody decision making
  • Some states if father willing to immediately
    assume care/custody, court dismisses case-
    granting custody to father.

Representing Non-Resident FathersAndrew Cohen
  • Protect standing establish paternity/right to
  • Advocating for client goals
  • With client explain process, risks benefits,
    other outcomes such as child support.
  • Does he want custody or want a relative to care
    for child.
  • Tell CPS client's goal of custody.
  • Seek visitation.

Representing Non-Resident FathersAndrew Cohen
  • Visits CPS must provide, client needs to attend,
    if possible accept every visit.
  • Don't be late or leave early confirm if
  • If CPS refuses visits seek court intervention
  • If transportation impossible or agency refuses to
    schedule consistent with work schedule, seek
    court intervention finding of no reasonable
  • If child has negative reaction to visits, work
    with father and worker.

Representing Non-Resident FathersAndrew Cohen
  • Services
  • Get case plan
  • Negotiate case plan services
  • Parenting education services often helpful to
  • Services checklist includes job training,
    housing assistance, parenting classes, anger
    management, NA/AA, referrals to other legal
    assistance, i.e. VA, housing, immigration
  • Ask about father specific services

JudgesHon. Len Edwards, Ret.
  • When potential father comes to court positive
    feedback/important person in child's life.
  • Complete paternity testing ASAP
  • Make it clear that father may be a placement
  • Identify father's extended family ensure they
    know about legal proceedings be considered as
    potential placement
  • Permit extended family to participate in group
    decision making processes, visitation, court

JudgesEdwards, Martinez, Rubin, Schroeder, Cohen
  • Encourage agency to locate father early
  • Consider father as resource
  • Explain that non-custodial does not mean unfit
  • Court appearances services which accommodate
    work schedule, transportation
  • Iowa
  • Parent mentors
  • Handbooks
  • Zero to Three Project with focus on fathers.

Male Help Seeking and Engaging Dads
  • Men and women learn and seek help differently
  • These differences should not cloud objective
    assessments of the fathers interest, capacity or
    ultimately what is in the childs best interest.
  • Father doesnt want to do the assigned parenting
    class. You find out that the class is mostly
    women and the focus is on emotional disclosures.
    Will this service truly benefit this dad?
  • Identify services that are informational and
    provide concrete practical guidance.
  • Discussions should be action oriented and focus
    on planning for the future and resolving

Learn the Law One ExampleReasonable Efforts
Legal/Policy Background
  • Adoption Assistance Act More focus on
    reunification AFSA on the overall permanency
  • Fostering Connections Emphasis on relatives
    though may be difficult to find an enforcement
    key (check state law for more specific
  • Understand Artist M. and how it does not impact
    individual decisions.
  • Know the Law on Reasonable Efforts
  • A no reasonable efforts finding is not the end of
    all funding for your state child welfare agency
    despite what some claim.

  • (1) Judicial determination of reasonable efforts
    to prevent a child's removal from the home.
  • (i) When a child removed from home, judicial
    determination as to whether reasonable efforts
    were made, or not required to prevent the removal
    . . . must be made no later than 60 days from
    removal date . . .
  • (ii) If the determination concerning reasonable
    efforts to prevent the removal is not made as
    specified in paragraph (b)(1)(i) of this section,
    the child is not eligible under the title IV-E
    foster care maintenance payments program for the
    duration of that stay in foster care.

REAONABLE EFFORT45 CFR 1356.21(b)(2) Judicial
determination-reasonable efforts to finalize
permanency plan.
  • (i) State agency must obtain judicial
    determination it has made reasonable efforts to
    finalize the permanency plan (reunification,
    adoption, legal guardianship, placement with
    fit/willing relative, placement in another
    planned permanent living arrangement) within 12
    months of date child entered foster care at
    least once every 12 months thereafter . . .
  • (ii) If judicial determination regarding
    reasonable efforts to finalize a permanency plan
    not made in accordance with the schedule
    prescribed in (b)(2)(i), child becomes ineligible
    under IV-E at the end of the month in which the
    judicial determination was required to have been
    made, and remains ineligible until such a
    determination is made.

Significance at Removal Hearing
  • Feds get importance of TC.
  • No Reasonable Efforts at TC can be a big deal,
    but agency has 60 days from removal to correct.
  • Implications for what parents attorney and
    others court people do at TC.
  • A no reasonable efforts finding could light a
    fire to get services going
  • Could tell the client something about his/her
    attorney and the rest of the system

Reasonable Efforts Later in case
  • At 12 Month Intervals
  • If No Reas Efforts granted - Only shorts the
    funding for a month unless it does not get
    fixed in that time.
  • Implications of deferring ruling with specific
    instructions to the agency
  • Implications for holding everyone accountable

Utilize the Law in Your WorkReasonable Efforts
  • Out of court -Inquire about the father/paternal
    relatives earlyand often
  • In Court - All Attorneys/GALs/CASA ensure that
    the agency makes reasonable efforts
  • Remind agency to continue efforts to find the
    father paternal relatives
  • In court inquire about fathers whereabouts (all
    attys) status of paternal relatives.
  • Look- for paternal relatives yourself/through
  • Asking the child (if age appropriate) Asking the
    mother and other known relatives about the
  • Using the Reasonable Efforts Language in Court

Inquire about the father and paternal relatives
earlyand often
  • If you dont
  • It prevents the child from maintaining or
    establishing an important connection with a
  • It may prevent the child from maintaining or
    establishing connections with paternal relatives.
  • It deprives the child, court and parties of
    important information about the fathers and his
    relatives capacity to parent or be involved in
    the childs life.
  • It may delay permanency for the child if adoption
    is the goal.

Specific Issues in Representing Fathers
  • Interview
  • Understand Family
  • Understand Placement Options
  • Establish Goals/Revise Goals
  • Disspell Myths
  • Explain the Control in the Uncontrollable

Aaron-Interview Overall Goals
  • Interview information
  • Genogram
  • Job
  • Goals clarification
  • Story of relationship
  • His view of mom
  • His view of dad
  • His view of self
  • View/wishes for children.
  • AA
  • Group Decision Making
  • Listening
  • Rules-Kinship
  • Clarifying
  • Positive steps each court date
  • Job
  • AA
  • Family-Kinship Rules
  • Communicate positive view of children


Interview and Post
  • Bringing the family issues to the attention of
    the court.
  • Getting agreement before court and commitment
    from worker in court on record to explore family.
  • Call the agency post court and track the issue
    and move on it early.
  • Asking court to defer reasonable efforts (or
    court deciding to defer reasonable efforts TC
    finding on its own motion).

Life of Case
  • Reasonable Services
  • Reasonable Visitation
  • Realism with Client
  • Giving control to client you role his role.
  • Advocacy outside of court
  • With worker, providers at meetings/staffings.
  • Advocacy in Court
  • Something positive each court date
  • Motions to match the out of court work client

Tips for Judges and AgenciesYou Cant Have One
Without the Other
  • James W. Payne, Director
  • Indiana Department of Child Services

Together We Can
  • Agencies play the first role
  • Agencies have to be good at what they do
  • Agencies have to ensure fathers are there
  • Judges have to know agencies policies
  • Judges have to support getting fathers
  • Judges can help ensure kids have fathers

Agency responsibility
  • CAPTA, AACWA (PL 96-272), AFSA, Fostering
    Connections, etc
  • Reasonable efforts findings
  • Policy to practice
  • Actualize practice- not formalize
  • Create liability for failure to find fathers
    Pennsylvania case

Why/Why Not
  • Doubles the resources- and the work
  • Potential placements- added supports
  • Reimburse for costs of services
  • Failed CHINS and TPR cases
  • Too late- like starting over
  • Faster permanency- close it sooner
  • The systems biggest prejudice

  • Ask CP at time in Court-
  • Put party under oath in Court
  • Have agency attorney do or Court to do
  • Insist on written genogram
  • Ask at every hearing
  • When was father last seen, heard, contacted
  • Last time his family contacted
  • Do searches- BMV, fishing/hunting, jail/DOC,
    Court records, FPLS, US Search

  • Get Paternity or Divorced filed
  • Look at data of father finding
  • Manage to the data
  • Train Case workers- supervisors- all
  • Ensure services for fathers
  • Ensure they are engaged involved
  • CFSR data- PIP
  • Look at resources- Fatherhood initiatives-
    private, Title IV-E, Title IV-B, etc

Judicial Responsibility
  • Fair to custodial parent- Mom
  • Fair to child
  • Fair to father and his family
  • Necessary party
  • Accountability
  • Hold to time lines

  • Ask at 1st hearing
  • Put parent under oath
  • Put in writing- make CP write it out
  • Ask at next and all hearings
  • Where is fathers family
  • Get picture of father in file
  • Outside jacket- or electronically

Court Involvement
  • GSL/CASA aware of finding fathers
  • Foster placement of father involvement
  • Parents attorneys are trained
  • Fathers family is welcome
  • Have seating for all
  • Make sure fathers family are IDd

  • Meet with local agency head on policy
  • Ask for policy and practice- training
  • Ask for data on father finding
  • Invite fathers family in
  • Make court building family friendly
  • Court staff know of family participation
  • Hold hearings on time
  • Work with IV-D, Paternity Divorce Courts
  • Track fathers on Court records

Thanks for Fathers!!
Legal Resources from the QIC NRF
  • Book and Curriculum for Fathers Attorneys
  • Judicial Bench Cards
  • Father Friendly Check Up for Courts
  • Guides for Fathers
  • Guides for Childrens Attorneys, GALs and CASAs
  • Guide for Agency Attorneys Literature
    Review/Annotated Bibliography
  • Available at www.fatherhoodqic.org, or e-mail
    lisa.pilnik_at_gmail.com for hard copies (if

Contact Us
  • Ron Clark, ronjclark_at_aol.com
  • Richard Cozzola, rcozzola_at_lafchicago.org
  • Judge James Payne, james.payne_at_dcs.in.gov
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