The shadow fathers: Barriers to whole family approach in social work?
Keywords:father involvement, family social work, qualitative research
Objective: The paper aims to explore the barriers to father involvement in family social work at the personal, cultural, and structural levels, and their interconnectedness to answer the main research question of how gendered constructions of mothers and fathers in social work affect the involvement of fathers in interventions.
Background: This paper contributes to debates about fathers in social work by examining gendered constructions of fathers in social services for families with children in the Czech Republic. The problem is viewed from the perspective of social constructionism, anti-oppressive practice, and the whole family approach.
Method: To meet the objective, we used a qualitative research strategy. 44 in-depth interviews with social workers, mothers, and fathers were carried out. After that, three focus groups with 21 social workers were formed.
Results: The results show that mothers and fathers are treated differently in social work, and femininity and masculinity are perceived as dichotomous opposites. This hinders fathers' involvement in family services and puts responsibility for solving family problems to mothers.
Conclusion: Most of these barriers at the micro- and mezzo-levels are in some way related to system barriers at the macro-level, which are often shaped by gender discourses.
Allen, R.I. & Petr, C.G. (1996). Toward developing standards and measurements for family centred practice in family support programs. In G.H.S. Singer, L.E. Powers, & A.L. Olson, (Eds.), Redefining family support (pp. 57-84). Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.
Baum, N. (2016). The unheard gender: the neglect of men as social work clients. The British Journal of Social Work, 46(5): 1463–1471. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcv074
Blanden, J. (2006). Bucking the trend: what enables those who are disadvantaged in childhood to succeed later in life? Department for Work and Pensions. Broderick, C.B. (1993). Understanding family process: basics of family systems theory. Sage Publications.
Brown, L., Callahan, M., Strega, S., Walmsley, Ch., & Dominelli, L. (2009). Manufacturing ghost fathers: the paradox of father presence and absence in child welfare. Children and Family Social Work, 14(1): 25–34. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2206.2008.00578.x
Cashman, L. (2017). New label no progress: institutional racism and the persistent segregation of Romani students in the Czech Republic. Race Ethnicity and Education, 20(5): 595-608. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13613324.2016.1191698
Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing Grounded Theory: A practical guide through qualitative analysis. Sage Publications.
Clapton, G. (2009). How and why social work fails fathers: redressing an imbalance, social work's role and responsibility. Practice: Social Work in Action, 21(1): 17-34. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09503150902745989
Coakley, T.M. (2008). Examining African American fathers’ involvement in permanency planning: An effort to reduce racial disproportionality in the child welfare system. Children and Youth Services Review, 30(4): 407–417. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2007.10.015
Coakley, T.M. (2013). An appraisal of fathers' perspectives on fatherhood and barriers to their child welfare involvement. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 23(5): 627-639. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/10911359.2013.775935
Coakley, T.M., Shears, J.K., & Randolph, S.D. 2014. Understanding key barriers to fathers’ involvement in their children's lives. Child & Youth Services, 35(4): 343-364.
Coakley, T.M., Washington, T. & Gruber, K. (2018). Assessing child welfare agency practices and attitudes that affect father engagement. Journal of Social Service Research, 44(3): 365-374. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/01488376.2018.1476286
Connell, R. G. (2005). Masculinities. 2. Berkeley Los Angeles: University of California Press.
Cretan, R., Kupka, P., Powell, R., & Walach, V. (2022). Everyday Roma stigmatization: Racialized urban encounters, collective histories and fragmented habitus. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 46(1), 82-100. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-2427.13053
Critchley, A. (2021). Giving up the ghost: Findings on fathers and social work from a study of pre-birth child protection. Qualitative Social Work. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/14733250211019463
Cryer-Coupet, Q.R., Stokes, M.N., Lemmons, B.P., & Dorsey, M. (2021). Engaging nonresident fathers: Exploring collaborative competencies in support of family-centered practice. Research on Social Work Practice, 31(8): 880–892. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/10497315211022830
Davies, L. & Krane, J. (2006). Collaborate with caution: Protecting children, helping mothers. Critical Social Policy, 26(2): 412–425. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0261018306062592
Day, R.D., & Lamb, M.E. (2004). Conceptualizing and measuring father involvement: Pathways, problems and progress. In R.D. Day & M.E. Lamb (Eds.), Conceptualizing and measuring father involvement (pp. 1–15). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781410609380
D'Cruz, P. (2002). Caregivers' experiences of informal support in the context of HIV/AIDS. The Qualitative Report, 7(3): 1-16.
Doubek, D., Levínská, M., & Bittnerová, D. (2015). Pomoc a porádek: kulturní modely v pomáhajících profesích. Faculty of Humanities, Charles University.
English, D.J., Brummel, S., & Martens, P. 2009. Fatherhood in the child welfare system: Evaluation of a pilot project to improve father involvement. Journal of Public Child Welfare, 3(3): 213-234. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/15548730903129764
Ewart-Boyle, S., Manktelow, R., & McColgan, M. (2015). Lessons for engaging fathers in Northern Ireland. Child & Family Social Work, 20(4): 470-479. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/cfs.12096
Ferguson, H. & Hogan, F. (2004). Strengthening families through fathers: Developing policy and practice in relation to vulnerable fathers and their families. The Centre for Social and Family Research, Waterford Institute of Technology.
Flouri, E. (2005). Fathering and child outcomes. John Wiley. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/9780470713228
Franck, E.J. (2001). Outreach to birthfathers of children in out-of-home care. Child Welfare: Journal of Policy, Practice, and Program, 80(3), 381–399. Frýbert, J. & Parízková, A. (2014). Pracujeme s Romy? Pruzkum etnicity a národnosti klientu a klientek terénního programu. Sociální práce, 14(2): 87-104.
GAC. (2015). Analýza sociálne vyloucených lokalit v CR. https://www.esfcr.cz/mapa-svl-2015/www/analyza_socialne_vyloucenych_lokalit_gac.pdf [retrieved December 5, 2021]
Ghate, D., Shaw, C. & Hazel, N. (2000). Fathers and family centres: Engaging fathers in preventative services. Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
Gojová, A., Burda, M., Grundelová, B., Stanková, Z., & Gojová, V. (2021). Variables of community social work and their interconnections in socio-spatial excluded neighbourhoods – example of the Czech Republic. European Journal of Social Work, 24(6): 1001-1014. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13691457.2021.1882398
Gordon, D.M., Oliveros, A., Hawes, S.W., Iwamoto, D.K., & Rayford, B.S. (2012). Engaging fathers in child protection services: A review of factors and strategies across ecological systems. Children and Youth Services Review, 34(8): 1399–1417. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2012.03.021
Guba E.G. & Lincoln Y.S. (1994). Competing paradigms in qualitative research. In N.K. Denzin & Y. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (pp.105–117). Sage.
Hämäläinen, J., Littlechild, B., Chytil, O., Sramata, M., & Jovelin, E. (2012). Introduction. In J. Hämäläinen, B. Littlechild, O. Chytil, M. Sramata, & E. Jovelin (Eds.), Evolution of child protection and child welfare policies in selected European countries (pp. 7–10). University of Ostava.
Hicks, S. 2000. „Good lesbian, bad lesbian...“: Regulating heterosexuality in fostering and adoption assessments. Child and Family Social work, 5(2): 157–168. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2206.2000.00153.x
Jacob. S. (2004). Soziale Repräsentationen und Relationale Realitäten. Deutscher Universitats-Verlag. Kozubík, M., Kajanová, A., & Kozlová, L. (2018). Etnizujúci prístup v sociálnej práci so sociálne exkludovanými a alternativy kritickej sociálnej práce. Sociální práce, 18(3): 70–83. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-322-81313-8
Lamb, M.E., & Lewis, CH. 2013. Father-child relationships. In N.J. Cabrera & C.S. Tamis LeMonda (Eds.), Handbook of father involvement: multidisciplinary perspectives. 2nd edition. Routledge. Lechowitz, M. E. et al. 2019. Enhancing father engagement in parenting programs: translating research into practice recommendations. Australian Psychologist, 54(2): 83-89.
Lee, J. (2014). The Whole Family Approach in policy and practice: the construction of family and the gendering of parenting. Cardiff University. A Doctoral Thesis.
Lucas, S.E., Mirza, N., & Westwood, J. (2021). ‘Any d*** can make a baby, but it takes a real man to be a dad’: Group work for fathers. Qualitative Social Work, 20(3): 718–737. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1473325020909431
Lupton, D., & Barclay, L. (1997). Constructing fatherhood: Discourses and experiences. Sage Publications, Inc.
Malm, K., Murray, J., & Geen, R. (2006). What about the dads? Child welfare agencies’ efforts to identify, locate and involve nonresident fathers. The US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037/e553092013-001
Marshall, D.B. & English, D.J. (2001). The effect of fathers or father figures on child behavioral problems in families referred to child protective services. Child Maltreatment, 6(4): 290–299. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1077559501006004002
Maxwell, N., Scourfield, J., Featherstone, B., Holland, S. &Tolman, R. (2012). Engaging fathers in child welfare services: a narrative review of recent research evidence. Child & Family Social Work, 17(2): 160-169. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2206.2012.00827.x
McKeown, K. (2001) Fathers and families:research and reflection on key questions. Department of Health and Children. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037/e535862013-001
Morgan, D. (2001). Ohniskové skupiny jako metoda kvalitativního výzkumu. Albert.
Morris, K. et al. 2008. Think family: A literature review of Whole Family Approaches. UK Cabinet Office.
Nicolae, V. (2007). Towards a definition of Anti-Gypsyism. In V. Nicolae & H. Slavik (Eds.), Roma diplomacy (pp. 21-30), DiploFoundation.
Nygren, K., Walsh, J., Ellingsen, I.T., Christie, A. (2019). What about the fathers? The presence and absence of the father in social work practice in England, Ireland, Norway, and Sweden: A comparative study. Child & Family Social Work, 24(1): 148–155. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/cfs.12592
O’Donnell, J.M., Johnson, W.E., D’Aunno, L.E., & Thornton, H.L. (2005). Fathers in child welfare: Caseworkers’ perspectives. Child Welfare, 84(3): 387–414.
Office of the Government of the Czech Republic (2016). Strategie boje proti sociálnímu vyloucení na období 2016 až 2020. Government Office. https://www.databazestrategie.cz/cz/urad-vlady/strategie/strategie-boje-proti-socialnimu-vylouceni-2016-2020 [retrieved December 5, 2021]
Panter-Brick, C., Burgess, A., Eggerman, M., McAllister, F., Pruett, K., & Leckman, J.F. (2014). Practitioner review: Engaging fathers-recommendations for a game change in parenting interventions based on a systematic review of the global evidence. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, and Allied Disciplines, 55(11): 1187–1212. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.12280
Pfitzner, N., Humphreys, C., & Hegarty, K. (2015). Research review: Engaging men: A multi-level model to support father engagement. Child & Family Social Work, 22(1): 537–547. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/cfs.12250
Philip, G., Clifton, J., & Brandon, M. (2018). The trouble with fathers: The impact of time and gendered-thinking on working relationships between fathers and social workers in child protection practice in England. Journal of Family Issues, 40(16): 2288-2309. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0192513X18792682
Pleck, J.H. (2010). Paternal involvement: Revised conceptualization and theoretical linkages with child outcomes. In M. E. Lamb (Ed.), The role of fathers in child development (5th ed., pp. 58–93). John Wiley & Sons.
Prokop, D. (2020). Slepé skvrny: o chudobe, vzdelávání, populismu a dalších výzvách ceské spolecnosti. 2nd ed. Host. Ritchie, J. & Lewis. J. (Eds.) (2003). Qualitative research practice: A guide for social science students and researchers. Sage Publications.
Schoppe-Sullivan, S.J., Altenburger, L.E., Lee, M.A., Bower, D.J., & Kamp Dush, C.M. (2015). Who are the gatekeepers? Predictors of maternal gatekeeping. Parenting, Science and Practice, 15(3): 166–186. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/15295192.2015.1053321
Scourfield, J. (2001). Constructing men in child protection work. Men and Masculinities, 4(1), 70–89. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1097184X01004001004
Scourfield, J. (2003). Gender and child protection. Palgrave Macmillan. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4039-1403-3
Shapiro, A.F., Krysik, J. (2010). Finding fathers in social work research and practice. Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics, 7(1). Sheldon, S. (2005). Fragmenting fatherhood: The regulation of reproductive technologies. The Modern Law Review, 68(4): 523-553. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2230.2005.00550.x
Sicouri, G., Tully, L., Collins, D. et al. (2018). Toward father-friendly parenting interventions: A qualitative study. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, 39(2), 218-231. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/anzf.1307
Sinai-Glazer, H., Peled, E. (2017). The perceptions of motherhood among family social workers in social services departments in Israel. British Journal of Social Work, 47(5): 1482–1499. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcw111
Stanfield, B. (2000). The art of focussed communication. New Society Publishers.
Symonds, J. (2018). Engaging parents with parenting programmes: relationship building in initial conversations. The British Journal of Social Work, 48(5): 1296–1314. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcx074
Thompson, N. (2012). Anti-discriminatory practice. equality, diversity and social justice. 5. ed. Palgrave Macmillan. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-230-37096-8_2
Thorne, B. (1993). Gender play: girls and boys in school. Open University Press. Thorne, S., Kirkham, S.R. & O’Flynn-Magee, K. (2004). The analytic challenge in interpretive description. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 3(1): 1–11. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/160940690400300101
Tully, L.A. et al. (2018). Examining Practitioner Competencies, Organizational Support and Barriers to Engaging Fathers in Parenting Interventions. Child Psychiatry Hum Dev, 49: 109–122. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10578-017-0733-0
UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (2011). Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 44 of the Convention. Concluding Observations: Czech Republic. United Nations. https://digitallibrary.un.org/record/702363 [retrieved December 5, 2021]
Urban, D. (2015). Sociální práce s romskými rodinami. University of South Bohemia.
Valová, H., Janebová, R. (2015). „Antiradikálnost“ ceských sociálních služeb aneb jak organizace sociálních služeb reší pokles financních prostredku. Socialni prace, 15(1), 5–23.
Wingrove, T., Beal, S.J., Weisz, V. (2016). Father involvement in dependency review hearings. Journal of Public Child Welfare, 10(5): 495–504. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/15548732.2016.1206504
Zábrodská, K. (2009). Variace na gender: poststrukturalismus, diskurzivní analýzy a genderová identita. Academia.
Zanoni, L., Warburton, W., Bussey, K., & McMaugh, A. (2013). Fathers as ‘core business’ in child welfare practice and research: An interdisciplinary review. Children and Youth Services Review, 35(7): 1055–1070. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2013.04.018
How to Cite
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.