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The Importance of Father Involvement & Resources to Promote Engagement

Fathers and father figures play an important role in their child’s overall well-being. The resources and organizations highlighted in this blog explore father engagement in the context of child development, neglect/abuse prevention, and child welfare involvement. 

Father, Dad, Pop, Papa. No matter which term is used, fathers and father figures are incredibly important influencers in a child’s life. Research shows that fathers not only have the capacity for caregiving but that children benefit directly from dads’ parenting contributions. Findings from the rapidly growing science of early childhood and early brain development show the positive, lifelong impact fathers can have by being positively engaged early in their children’s lives. (Fatherhood Project, 2018)

An “engaged father” is defined as one who “feels responsible for and behaves responsibly toward his child, is emotionally engaged and physically accessible, provides material support to sustain the child’s needs, is involved in childcare, and exerts influence in child rearing decisions.” (CalSWEC-Berkely)

In A Guide for Father Involvement in Systems of Care, the authors note that having an engaged father:

  • Lets a child know that he/she is loved
  • Helps a child learn important life skills
  • Provides a child with greater financial resources
  • Lowers a child’s chances for early sexual activity
  • Provides a child with a positive male role model
  • Lowers a child’s chances for school failure
  • Provides a child with emotional support
  • Lowers a child’s chances for juvenile delinquency
  • Enhances a child’s self-esteem
  • Lowers a child’s chances for adult criminality
  • Enhances a child’s intellectual development
  • Provides a child with a sense of physical and emotional security
  • Provides a child with guidance and discipline
  • Facilitates a child’s moral development
  • Gives a child someone to play with
  • Promotes a healthy gender identity in a child
  • Provides a child with someone to talk to when he/she has questions
  • Provides a child with an alternative perspective on life

The father absence crisis in America: 18.4 million children live in a fatherless home. (U.S. Census Bureau, 2022)

The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2022 report, Historical Living Arrangements of Children, reveals that one out of four children live without a biological, step, or adoptive father in the home. Research shows that a father’s absence affects children in numerous unfortunate ways, while a father’s presence makes a positive difference in the lives of both children and mothers. Many factors affect how involved a father is with his children and child- and family-serving professionals can screen for and help address some of the most critical factors. Download the National Fatherhood Initiative’s Factors that Predict Father Involvement factsheet for more information.

Through active involvement and presence, non-residential fathers can still provide a strong foundation for their child’s well-being. To foster positive engagement, fatherhood programs should consider the unique challenges faced by non-residential fathers and consider providing services such as navigating child support, co-parenting, or work-related assistance. (National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse)

The resources and organizations highlighted below explore father engagement in the context of child development, neglect/abuse prevention, and child welfare involvement. Whether you seek to develop father engagement programming, support a father in his journey,  or gain a better understanding of the role fathers play in their child’s overall well-being, this post has a little bit of everything! Some resources/programs/activities are specifically aimed at fathers and father figures, and we encourage you to share those with the families you support—or, better yet, explore them together! Let’s get started…

Resources For Dads and Child- & Family-Serving Professionals

California Training Institute (CalTrin)

Hey, that’s us! CalTrin has hosted several trainings on topics related to parent engagement, including nurturing parent and child development, father engagement programming, paternal perinatal mental health, building Protective Factors, and more. Access recordings and materials from prior trainings, and check out the calendar for future webinars and workshops! You can also explore our relevant resource collections.  

Note: You will need to log in to your CalTrin account to access select archived training materials. You can create a free account here.

California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare (CEBC)

Visit our partner project’s Father Involvement Interventions topic area to learn about evidence-based programs that aim to increase fathers’ active and positive engagement in their children’s lives. Studies have shown that when fathers have positive relationships with their children, it can have positive effects on their children’s behavior, social skills, cognitive development, and academic achievement. Visit the CEBC website and view all programs in this topic area.

The Center for Men’s Excellence

Based in San Diego, CA, therapists from The Center for Men’s Excellence work with clients who seek to improve their quality of life with effective, evidence-based therapy modalities. Founder Dr. Dan Singley has facilitated trainings on father engagement and paternal mental health for CalTrin—view them in our Training Archive!

Children’s Bureau of Southern California

Since 1904, Children’s Bureau’s innovative, comprehensive services have helped thousands of at-risk children and parents annually from 20 community sites in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. Explore their Tools & Resources, including:

Children’s Bureau Learning and Coordination Center (CBLCC)

The CBLCC provides logistics and strategic communication services to support peer learning, meetings and events, and multimedia resource development on issues relevant to the full spectrum of child welfare. Check out the CBLCC’s resources for engaging dads:

Child Trends

Child Trends provides independent research to help children and youth thrive, including:

Child Welfare Information Gateway

Engaging and involving fathers and other paternal family members is a crucial component of family engagement. Explore the Child Welfare Information Gateway’s Engaging Fathers topic for information about the importance of father involvement in the lives of their children and best practices for engaging fathers and their families in child welfare practice. Learn more.

Fatherhood Resource Hub 

The Child & Family Research Partnership at The University of Texas at Austin created the Fatherhood Resource Hub for organizations and community programs seeking to better serve fathers. For any organization invested in the well-being of families, including organizations that provide services solely to fathers, parenting-focused organizations, and organizations that provide services to the whole family, the resources on this website will help support your efforts to serve fathers and support families.

Fathers Incorporated (FI)

Established in 2004, FI works collaboratively with organizations around the country to identify and advocate for social and legislative changes that lead to healthy father involvement with children, regardless of the father’s marital or economic status or geographic location.

The Fatherhood Project

The Fatherhood Project is a non-profit fatherhood organization in the Department of Psychiatry at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA. Their mission is to improve the health and well-being of children by empowering fathers to be active, informed, and emotionally engaged with their children and families.

Father Research and Practice Network (FRPN)

The FRPN promotes rigorous evaluation of fatherhood programs and connects researchers and practitioners.

Head Start │ ECLKC

Head Start and Early Head Start have a strong history of prioritizing the engagement of fathers and male family members. Explore the following resources designed to help staff (and other professionals) engage fathers as advocates, lifelong educators, and first teachers of their children. 

Moynihan Institute for Research and Policy

A project of Fathers Incorporated, the Moynihan Institute for Research and Policy looks to provide descriptive and explanatory research and policy positions on issues that impact Black families from the perspective of fathers. The basis of the Moynihan Institute’s work is the 1965 U.S. Department of Labor report, The Negro Family: The Case for National Action, more commonly known as the “Moynihan Report.” Learn more about the project and access all research products:

National Center for Fathering (NCF)

The National Center for Fathering ( is a nonprofit educational organization that strives to improve the lives of children and establish a positive fathering and family legacy that will impact future generations by inspiring and equipping fathers and father figures to be actively engaged in the life of every child. 

National Fatherhood Initiative®

Founded in 1994, the National Fatherhood Initiative® is the nation’s leading provider of research on father presence and father involvement, research and evidence-based fatherhood programs and resources, staff training, and father-engagement planning services for human service organizations and practitioners. Get started with:

National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families (Center)

The Center is a hub of research and resources to help programs and policies better serve low-income Hispanic children and families. Explore the Center’s resources related to fatherhood, including:

National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse

The National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse ( is an Office of Family Assistance (OFA) funded national resource for fathers, practitioners, programs/Federal grantees, states, and the public at large who are serving or interested in supporting strong fathers and families. The NRFC website is also available in Spanish

National Training & Technical Assistance Center for Child, Youth, & Family Mental Health

The National Training & Technical Assistance Center for Child, Youth, & Family Mental Health (NTTAC) is a SAMHSA-funded initiative to increase the access to, the effectiveness of, and dissemination of evidence-based mental health services for young people (ages 0-21) and their families.

NTTAC’s no-cost, online Fatherhood & Father Figures Curriculum highlights stories from communities around the country to illustrate the importance of including fathers from all backgrounds. Additionally, it provides a comprehensive set of resources on father engagement programming. Practitioners, program leaders, advocates, and other professionals working in our early childhood systems of care will walk away understanding the why and the how of authentic father engagement.

Explore NTTAC’s curated list of self-identifying fathers, thought leaders, influencers, authors, blogs, organizations, and more who center their work around fatherhood.

Postpartum Support International (PSI)

Headquartered in Oregon, Postpartum Support International(PSI)  has many resources to help families, providers, and communities learn about the emotional and mental health of childbearing families,  including specific postpartum mental health resources for dads. Check out PSI’s online Dad Support Group, which meets on Fridays. This group helps dads connect with other dads who have newborns up to toddlers and provides a forum to talk and listen to other dads as they process their experiences. Learn more about the Dad Support Group here.

Sesame Workshop

Research shows that when kids know how much their dads love them, they feel more confident and have greater empathy. Discover Sesame Workshop’s printables, videos, and other activities to promote father engagement and strengthen family bonding:

Office of Planning, Research & Evaluation (OPRE)

OPRE is an office of the Administration for Children & Families (ACF) responsible for studying ACF programs and the populations they serve through rigorous research and evaluation projects. These include evaluations of existing programs, evaluations of innovative approaches to helping low-income children and families, research syntheses, and descriptive and exploratory studies. Explore OPRE’s various reports related to fatherhood and father engagement:

San Bernadino Children’s Network

The San Bernardino Children’s Network coordinates preventative programs and services through collaboration and engagement with community and county partners to strengthen and promote child, family, and community well-being. Check out their father engagement resources and programs:

Know of a similar program or coalition in your County*? Send the information to to be added to the blog! (*California only, please)

Additional Research, Articles, & Podcasts

Casey Family Programs: How Can We Better Engage Fathers in Prevention?

Center for Early Education and Development (CEED) and Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare (CASCW): Early Development and Child Welfare Podcast Series

First 5 California: Fatherhood – The Importance of Dads

Institute for Family Studies: Black Dads Matter (K. Braswell, June 2020)

Pew Research Center: Most Dads Say They Spend Too Little Time with Their Children; About a Quarter Live Apart From Them (G. Livingston, 2018)

Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health: A Guide for Father Involvement in Systems of Care (Martinez, K., Rider, F., Cayce, N., Forssell, S., Poirier, J., Hunt, S., Crawford, G., & Sawyer, J., 2013)

Tribal Information Exchange: Engaging and Supporting Native Fathers

The University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration Magazine: Understanding the Positive Impacts of African American Fathers (C. Whitaker)

Helping Dad to Reconnect (Ayudando a papá a reconectarse)

Circles of Support (Identificación de apoyo/redes paternas)

Connect with Successful Father Engagement Programs

The following programs were highlighted by participants during CalTrin’s How About Dad? Father Engagement Basics workshop discussion. Reach out to learn more:


*Last updated June 26, 2024