240758 Father's compliance with child welfare case plans: Need for an expanded systemic response

Monday, October 31, 2011: 12:50 PM

Lianne Fuino Estefan, MPH , Department of Community and Family Health, University of South Florida, College of Public Health, Tampa, FL
Martha L. Coulter, DrPH MSW , Department of Community and Family Health, University of South Florida, College of Public Health, Tampa, FL
Carla L. VandeWeerd, PhD , Department of Community and Family Health, University of South Florida, College of Public Health, Tampa, FL
Background: Parents who are accused of maltreating their children often have to complete a child welfare case plan, including mental health, substance abuse treatment, and parenting education. Children are at risk for health and developmental problems if parents are unable to complete the assigned tasks and are deemed unable to care for their children. This study sought to examine the types of tasks with which fathers and mothers were most likely to comply, and whether the method of resolving the case (mediation or litigation) impacted parents' compliance. Methods: A retrospective review of court files (n =397) was conducted in 9 counties in Florida. Brief in-person surveys with family members were conducted in the same counties. Descriptive and bivariate statistics were analyzed. Results: Mothers' compliance with case plan tasks was similar between mediated and litigated cases. Fathers were significantly more likely to comply with certain tasks in mediated cases, including visitation (40% vs. 24%), substance abuse testing (26% vs. 13%), child support (22% vs. 10%), and psychological evaluations (39% vs. 29%). Survey results indicated that both fathers and mothers were significantly more likely to understand next steps in mediation compared to litigation, and to feel more engaged in the process. Discussion: Attention to fathers' compliance with the case plan is often lacking in child welfare services in favor of attention to mothers, yet fathers are an important element in the healthy development of children. A more refined child welfare system response may include the increased use of mediation to resolve cases.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1.List child welfare tasks with which fathers are more likely to comply. 2.Discuss how mediation may increase fatherís compliance with child welfare case plan tasks. 3.Discuss the type of systemic child welfare response to fathers that is needed.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am Associate Director of the Harrell Center for the Study of Family Violence and Assistant Professor in the Department of Community and Family Health in the College of Public Health. I oversee research in the area of family violence and teach courses on research methods, health disparities, and socio-behavioral sciences. I am a PI of this project and am an author on the manuscript that serves as the basis for this presentation
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.