“How Engaging Fathers in Social Work Intervention Impacts on the Well Being of Children.”

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Literature Review 2013

“How engaging fathers in social work intervention impacts on the well being of children.”

Abstract
This literature review examines the relationship between social work professionals and families in relation to the role of the father, step father or partner, including the impact of their involvement on mothers and the development of children within the family in child protection cases of domestic abuse, substance abuse and sexual abuse. Findings in the literature are that social work professionals tend to focus on the mother rather than the father, the mother often being held culpable for the well being of the child while the father is overlooked in assessment. Main discussion points are individual professional values, and the reasons why professionals may choose to avoid the perpetrator rather than to involve him in assessments to achieve outcomes in the best interests of the child, which reveal constructions of stereotypes and gender discrimination that influence practice. The involvement of young fathers pre-natally and the role of Sure Start children’s centres in engaging young fathers with dads’ only activities are found to be key resources in the community for parenting skills, and absent father’s in prison are shown to have a positive contribution to children’s well being despite assumptions to the contrary and the restrictions of prison. Attachment theory of children to significant figures and role models and resilience is deliberated as are positive ways in which to engage and intervene with fathers that will result in better social outcomes for the child in education, peer relationships and their own self esteem and attitudes are acknowledged. Mothers with positive partner support were also found to be less punitive towards their children and suffer less from low self esteem and poor mental health issues.

Introduction
This literature review looks at how the inclusion or exclusion of fathers by professionals in social work interventions impacts on children’s well being, including their personal and social development, emotional health outcomes, attachment, resilience and future adult relationships. In the background, I will be looking at policy and legislation in relation to the governments’ long term sustainable strategy to improve the lives of children from 1998 to 2012 which has been developed to provide a framework to enable professionals to engage absent, reluctant and sometimes violent partners. It is my interest to uncover why it is more often than not the woman who is the main focus of intervention and assessments in social services, when often she is not the perpetrator of abuse but the victim of it, and equally, whether it is in the best interests of the child to focus more on the father. I think that it is important that some attention is given to the topic as a father who is ‘invisible’ to social services and resists engaging with professionals is not given the opportunity, or the support and advice of how to address his own issues and change his behaviour through anger management and substance or sexual abuse therapy and counselling. I will identify relevant theoretical frameworks evident in the literature review which inform social work practice in relation to family interventions within child protection.

Aims and objectives.
The aims and objectives of this study are to examine and ascertain why social work professionals have a tendency to exclude male partners in child protection work, the reasons of which may be through lack of training or experience, organisational pressures, or perhaps even by their own internalised gender biases. The objectives are to establish why fathers do not engage with services, and to look at the views of the fathers, mothers and children themselves. The literature review also aims to explore evidence that supports or disproves my hypothesis that the avoidance of men in social work intervention, and other service agencies,...
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