Child Welfare Fatherhood Project

Adobe PDFChild Welfare Fatherhood Project Overview Summary

Adobe PDFClick here to access the RI Resource Manual for Dads

Project Overview

The exclusion of fathers from the child welfare process has adversely impacted the ability of the child welfare system to respond to the diverse needs of the children and youth impacted by abuse and neglect. Through the Child Welfare Fatherhood Project (CWFP), challenges and opportunities surrounding fatherhood practices in child welfare wil be documented, including the perspectives and experiences of fathers, child welfare, and community professionals. The populations of fathers most affected by the child welfare process include fathers who are African American, Latino, have issues of current or past incarceration, and/or adolescent. It is these same population of fathers that are included in this project. The CWFP is innovative in its multi-level approach to advancing fatherhood practice for professionals in child welfare and community agencies. Specifically, focus groups, training, interviews, and a newly developed clinical-mapping tool are at the core of this project, and its focus on enhancing existing fatherhood practices. The data obtained through these combined methods will be used to implement improvements in child welfare's current fatherhood practices, which are directly linked to safety, permanency and well-being for children and youth involved with child welfare.

Child Welfare Fatherhood Project Staff

Lead Investigator - Tonya Glantz has been working in the field of child welfare for over 17 years. She holds a Master's Degree in Social Work and is currently a doctoral student. She is currently employed as a Clinical Training Specialist by the Rhode Island Child Welfare Institute. A great deal of Ms. Glantz's time is spent training agency and community staff on issues related to fatherhood and cross-system collaboration. Ms. Glantz is the lead investigator for the Child Welfare Fatherhood Project. Ms. Glantz's training experiences include curriculum development, training of child welfare and human service staff as well as social work education of undergraduate and graduate students at Rhode Island and Providence Colleges. She has also served as presenter at local and federal conferences. Ms. Glantz's training expertise is in the areas of family-centered practice, fatherhood, parent-child visitation and cross-system collaboration. Ms. Glantz's training efforts have expanded to include Rhode Island's schools and their personnel. In addition to her work in public child welfare, Ms. Glantz has also occupied adjunct faculty positions for Social Work Programs at both Rhode Island College and Providence College.

Graduate Assistant - Derek Belisle is an M.S.W. candidate in his second year of study. He has been working in the field of child welfare for over 7 years. Mr. Belisle is employed as a Social Caseworker II by the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth & Families. Mr. Belisle is the graduate assistant and co-investigator for the RI Child Welfare Institute's Child Welfare Fatherhood Project. His research interests include exploring barriers to father engagement in child welfare and using training to promote cross-system engagement of fathers. In addition, Mr. Belisle's combined professional and graduate experiences have contributed to his direct work and advocacy on behalf of fathers in Rhode Island's inner city. Mr. Belisle is involved in facilitating a support group for fathers impacted by social, economic and family challenges. He co-facilitated fatherhood training for newly hired child welfare staff.

History of the Project

This project arose out of concern for the need to increase visibility and engagement of fathers in child welfare. The exclusion or limited consideration of fathers by the child welfare system has been documented in recent Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSR) and state Program Improvement Plans as a challenge in meeting the needs of children and youth who reside in out of home care (, retrieved on March 8, 2007; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2000). In addition to Rhode Island references, the social work literature and research related to fathers supports the exclusion of fathers by the child welfare systems and expresses concern for the implication of this exclusion on outcomes for children and youth (Sonenstein, Malm, and Billing, 2002; O'Donnell, 2001). In response to these very challenges, the Rhode Island Child Welfare Institute has used the last four years to implement a fatherhood training initiative, Where's Daddy: Engaging Hard to Reach Fathers. Due to the important nature of this training and its significance to challenges identified by the CFSR for Rhode Island's child welfare system, this curriculum was integrated into the State's Program Improvement Plan (DCYF Program Improvement and Child and Family Service Plan, June, 2005).

This training has provided a valuable opportunity for child welfare staff to begin to examine barriers to father involvement, which always results in participants' exploration of personal and professional father bias. In addition to the barrier of bias, the training also draws attention to staffs' lack of knowledge regarding fatherhood resources. Both of these barriers appear to be linked to poor communication within child welfare and with community providers as well as a lack of cross-system collaboration on behalf of fatherhood. The feedback from this training has been rich and revealed staffs' need for more specific child welfare and provider training related to fatherhood and culture. Based on the training evaluations and discussions, it was determined that advanced training was needed to more comprehensively address four categories of fatherhood and related cultural contexts: African American, Latino, Incarcerated and Adolescent.

This project began with the goal of utilizing an advanced fatherhood curriculum, related to culture and engagement of fathers, to promote openness and collaboration between child welfare and providers agencies with and on behalf of fathers. In addition to providing education related to the cultural nuances of the four groups of fathers, the training curriculum also intended to utilize artistic resources or mapping tools whose clinical and visual nature would help to convey fathers in a multidimensional context and portray a life cycle perspective. The mapping tools currently being developed by CWI are called Fathered to Fathering Maps. This idea of visual maps to portray fatherhood emerged from CWI's work with eco-maps to promote connections for youth. Support for using life maps as a tool for self reflection by individuals and for purposes of assessment and intervention is supported in Hodge's (2005) work on Spiritual Life Maps as well as the work of Stueve & Pleck (2003); Dick (2004); Marsiglio, Day, and Lamb (2000); and Tanfer and Mott (1997). There seemed to be an absence of father driven tools that included both a cultural and individual father focus. CWI explored mapping approaches as a vehicle for capturing an individual's life experience with regard to being fathered (or not) and then becoming the provider of fathering to his own child. Through the same social work tradition that uses eco-maps (Hartman, 1995) to empower the client to share their life perspective, this project seeks to utilize a visual, client-centered map to link issues of fatherhood across the life cycle to the individual's role as a father today. Through the images conveyed in the map, a father's strengths and needs as well as hopes for his role as father can be shared among the father, his community provider and the child welfare staff. Similar to written forms of Narrative Therapy, this shared use of the Fathered to Fathering Map is expected to have merits with regard to self reflection, personal motivation and goal setting for the client. In addition to the important benefits to the individual client and father, the maps also afford the story of the individual that arise from their own culture and personal narrative, which can serve to create a less biased and more holistic portrayal of the father for use in building support and partnerships across all three systems: child welfare, provider and the father.

It is the aim of this project to concurrently use training to introduce a valuable clinical tool that supports the inclusion of fatherhood while at the same time using the data from this piloting of this tool to augment the advanced fatherhood training. The information below explains the chronology and components of the project:

  • Late winter 2008
    • Focus groups to collect data regarding the perceptions of fathers involved in child welfare. Three categories of focus group will be held to allow for equal collection of feedback from fathers from each of the four targeted categories, community providers involved in fatherhood work and child welfare staff at the Department of Children, Youth, and Families
  • Winter 2008
    • Piloting of Fathered to Fathering Maps with all four categories of fathers. Through this pilot, CWI hopes to utilize the mapping completed by Derek Belisle, M.S.W. candidate, as well as to partner with providers working with fathers in the four targeted groups to conduct at least one Fathered to Fathering Map per provider.
    • Data will be gathered from providers and fathers who participated in the pilot regarding the use of the tool, its impact and comparison with other approaches that participants have encountered. Fathers will be invited to participate in video interviews for use in educating child welfare staff and other providers.
  • Winter - Spring 2008
    • At the time of invitation to the focus group and again at the focus group, staff from these two groups will be offered the opportunity to attend a 18 hour training, Engaging Fathers in Child Welfare: A Life Map and Cross-System Collaboration Approach, related to using Fathered to Fathering Maps and cross-system collaboration to enhance fatherhood practices and the inclusion of fathers in the child welfare process. The training is voluntary and in addition to free professional development it will offer 18 continuing education credits to participants who complete the training. Attendance at the training constitutes consent.
  • Winter - Spring 2008
    • From the Engaging Fathers in Child Welfare: A Life Map and Cross-System Collaboration Approach a small sub-sample of four and eight participants from the training group will be invited to pilot Fathered to Fathering Map. These Training participants will utilize existing relationships with child welfare staff, providers and respective fathers to create Fathered to Fathering Maps. This triad will participate in pre and post interviews related to utilizing this mapping process.
  • Spring 2008 - Fall 2008
    • The curriculum for Engaging Fathers Through Culture will be finalized with the expectation that it will be offered in September 2008.

For more information or if you are interested in participating in the focus groups or piloting of the Fathered to Fathering Maps please contact Tonya Glantz at 456-4623 or


DCYF Program Improvement and Child and Family Service Plan. (June, 2005). Prepared by the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth, and Families.

Dick, G. L. (2004). The Fatherhood Scale. Research on Social Work Practice, 14(2), 80 - 92.

Hartman, A. (1978). Diagrammatic assessment of family relationships. Social casework, 59(8), 465-476.

Hodge, D. R. (2005, Jan). Spiritual Lifemaps: A client-centered pictorial instrument for spiritual assessment, planning and intervention. Social Work, 50(1), 77-87.

Marsiglio, W., Day, R.D., Lamb, M. (2000). Exploring fatherhood diversity: Implications for conceptualizing father involvement. Marriage and Family Review, 29, 269-93.

O'Donnell, J. (2001). Paternal involvement in kinship foster care services in one father and multiple father families. Child Welfare, 80(4), 453-477.

Sonenstein, F., Malm, K. and Billing, A. (2002). Study of fathers' involvement in permanency planning and child welfare casework (Literature Review for U.S Department of Health and Human Services), retrieved on December 27, 2007 at http:/

Stueve, J. L. and Pleck, J. H. (2003). Fathers' Narratives of Arranging and Planning: Implications for Understanding Paternal Responsibility. Fathering: A Journal of Theory, Research, and Practice about Men as Fathers, 1(1), 51-70.

Tanfer, K. and Mott, F. L. (1997). The meaning of fatherhood for men. Prepared for NICHD Workshop "Improving Data on Male Fertility and Family Formation" at the Urban Institute, Washington, D.C., January 16-17, 1997.

U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (2000). Rethinking child welfare practice under the adoption and safe families act of 1997: A resource guide. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

U.S. Dept Health & Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children Youth and families, Children's Bureau, Child and family services overview. Retrieved on March 8, 2007 at Adobe PDFOutside Link

This page contains content in PDF format. You must have the Adobe Acrobat Reader to view this content, click here to download it for free.

Page last updated: August 14, 2014