Changing Systems and Practice for Young Fathers to Improve Outcomes for Youth Fathers, Their Children, and Their Families.

Feb 2017 | Lisa Primus

Abstract: This brief makes recommendations for child welfare system policy and practice changes that recognize the critical role young fathers can play in improving the outcomes of their children and families. State and local policies and programs that seek to identify, engage, and support young fathers are highlighted. Links to practice guides and other resources to support implementation of the recommendations are included, and young fathers' voices and experiences with child welfare systems are embedded throughout the brief. Policy recommendations address the following challenges: the lack of attention to the dual roles and needs of young fathers who are simultaneously navigating a transition to adulthood while learning to parent; the invisibility of young fathers in child welfare systems and the dearth of opportunities for them to support the well-being of their children and families; the lack of data on the characteristics and needs of young fathers; and the lack of cross-system collaboration among the education, juvenile/criminal justice, early childhood education (ECE), child support enforcement, health care, homeless services, housing and mental health systems to support young fathers and their families. In addition to policy recommendations that address father-inclusive organizational culture, father identification, father-focused practice, family tie, co-parenting, father-focused services, undocumented fathers, incarcerated young fathers, and intimate partner violence, a recommendation is made for systematically collecting, analyzing, and using data on expectant and parenting young fathers and their unique needs. 

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