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There’s a growing body of research on the importance of fathers in child development and well-being. But there has been relatively limited work exploring what kinds of programs help fathers with parenting skills, particularly fathers in low-income families and underrepresented populations who have made mistakes such as child maltreatment.
“We're trying to get fathers more involved in child welfare and include them more as an important resource for kids. Historically it hasn't been done,” says Julia Kobulsky, assistant professor in the Temple University School of Social Work.
Developing effective approaches to helping low-income parents and children starts with gathering better data about how family situations are being handled in the real world. One of Kobulsky’s recent studies examines situations involving fathers in maltreatment cases reported to Child Protective Services (CPS) systems in the United States. Among its findings, the research suggests that although father-alone maltreatment was associated with less severe physical abuse behavior, child maltreatment cases involving fathers are more likely to lead to criminal investigations.
“There are stereotypes, right?” Kobulsky says. “In the context of child maltreatment, there's a concern fathers are more dangerous.”
She analyzed data drawn from the second National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being (NSCAW-II), a nationally representative study of children investigated for maltreatment by CPS. The goal is to help support development of interventions for maltreating fathers and their affected children by understanding the distinguishing characteristics of the child maltreatment that is attributed to fathers and whether there are disparate outcomes in maltreatment cases attributed to fathers as compared to mothers. Understanding the nature of father-perpetrated maltreatment—and how CPS systems are responding to it—is key to supporting child well-being.
She conducted her research under funding from the Fatherhood Research and Practice Network, a five-year national research project co-led by Jay Fagan, professor in the School of Social Work.
Learn more about this study at the link below.