Creating Systemic Change


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This was a presentation at the National Father's and Families coalition Conference in SF in 2010

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  • We began with finding our commonality within the agency and Its all about the children became our mantra, our mission, a central point that everyone in the department could agree on, no matter their focus area.
  • We began with finding our commonality within the agency and Its all about the children became our mantra, our mission, a central point that everyone in the department could agree on, no matter their focus area.
  • Our program is called Men behaving Dadly, and to start
  • Feel free to reorder; and if you find that there are things you want to remember to say but is not needed on the slide, please remove and put in your notes. We established practices that eliminate previous barriers to the collection of child support that Denver had in place for years. We no longer seek retroactive support such as TANF expended and make sure current support is set at an amount that fits with a noncustodial parent ’s ability to pay when establishing new orders. We no longer assess 12% interest on delinquent support and when satisfying arrears accounts we immediately remove interest from the top. Inclusive order establishment –
  • Creating Systemic Change

    1. 1. Institutionalizing Fatherhood Programming in Child Welfare and Public Social Service Settings 1 Creating Systemic Change: Nathan L. O’Neal, PhD, MBA Men Behaving Dadly Fatherhood Program Manager
    2. 2. Change is Critical Children oSchool suspension, 53% oDrop out, 71% oTreated for an emotional or behavioral problems, 65% oAdolescent suicide, 63% oAre victims of child abuse or neglect, 78% o70% of long-term prison inmates. The System oFailure to meet federal requirements oInadequate family resources for children oStrain on existing foster care system oChildren in care longer than necessary 2 Research informs us that NOT having Dad’s presence in this work has a negative impact on:
    3. 3. Change is Critical, cont’d Mothers oPoverty oLack of support oExhaustion/Stress oResentment from her family Fathers oDepression oLack of self esteem oFeelings of failure and inadequacy oCynical about the world oFeeling helpless and hopeless oLabeled as ‘deadbeat’ oSeen as a loser oJail/Prison oSubstance abuse 3 NOT having Dad’s involvement with his child has a negative impact on:
    4. 4. Practice change is Imperative 4 WHY? Yet making lasting change is difficult in public welfare settings.
    5. 5. Barriers exist because there are many types of people involved in decision making – having different purposes, perspectives, attitudes and using different approaches. We all may have a different idea of exactly what is in each child’s “best interest”. 5
    6. 6. History plays an important role: • Elizabethan Poor Laws • Widows and Orphan’s Acts • Social Security: Title IVA and Title IVD 6 Men have been actively excluded for a very long time
    7. 7. Public service bureaucracy as experienced by many clients: • Complex • Hierarchical (slow decision making) • Resources are challenged, crises oriented vs. preventive o Staff are often overwhelmed o Finances are silo-ed and inflexible o Decision making is slow and rule bound o Constant public scrutiny (audits, press) can make workers defensive o Politics and political sensitivities are an underlying reality 7
    8. 8. 8 Organizational Chart Department Director / Manager Child Protection Intake Family Resource (Foster, Kinship Adoption) Youth Services Ongoing Child Protection Temporary Aid to Needy Families Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Medicaid Medicare Adult Protection Low Income Heating Assistance Assistance Programs Legal Security Personnel Budget Business Office Child Support Administration A Typical Public Agency Intake Case Initiation (locating non-custodial parent) Establishment of Paternity and Child Support Enforcement of Child Support Court Order Interstate Modifications Information Technology Child Welfare Child Support Human Resources Administrative
    9. 9. A Case Study 9
    10. 10. Case Study • Five independent decision makers (Police, Court, Jail, Department of Human Services, and Genetic Testing agency) • Five social service divisions involved (Child Welfare Intake, Ongoing, Foster Care, Financial Services, and Child Support) • Federal clock running (child under 6 requires permanency within one year) • Lack of communication 10 Challenges
    11. 11. Lessons Learned • Importance of establishing paternity being on child’s birth certificate • Not all Fathers avoid responsibility (Fathers are made to jump through many hoops to prove their paternity; Fathers owning up to responsibility must “prove” their paternity.) • Federal permanency timelines sometimes are too short for meaningful progress by parents with multiple barrier • Systems intended to protect sometimes create barriers 11
    12. 12. “Best Interest”? 12
    13. 13. Whatever else might be in the child’s best interestin the child’s best interest Fathers must be included.Fathers must be included. 13
    14. 14. AGENCY BARRIERS TO FATHER INVOLVEMENT 14 • Multiple silos and decision makers • Dad not seen as in legitimate need of social services • Dads not always seen as necessary • Dads excluded from decision making
    15. 15. STAFF BARRIERS TO FATHER INVOLVEMENT • One more thing to do • Confusion regarding who the client is • Misunderstanding about program purpose • Attitudes and myths • Personal discomfort with men • Lack of cultural competence and sensitivity 15
    16. 16. Partner Barriers • Different definition of “best interest” • Different reasons for involvement and different timeframes • Different rules, regulations, policies and procedures 16
    17. 17. Barriers for Working with Partners: (Police, Jail, Court, Schools, Physicians, CBO, FBO, Etc.) • Different rules, regulations, policies, procedures and timeframes 17 The Social Services Struggle in Getting Fathers Involved • Different definition of “best interest” • Different purpose/mission • Different reasons for involvement
    18. 18. “ Institututionalizing practice is IN THE BEST INTEREST OF CHILDREN” 18
    19. 19. Goals fo Fatherhood Practices within Social Service • Create and maintain an organizational culture that includes Fathers as a resource • Redefine “family” to include fathers • Practice to promote Father stability and involvement • Coordinate systems of care to work effectively with fathers • Increase dad’s knowledge and support his ability to exercise his rights within the system19
    20. 20. Why Institutionalize these practices? • Staff may leave but good practice will continue • We improve outcomes for Children • Assures that the “system” will provide supports to assist Fathers to engage in the lives of their children • Increases the capacity and effectiveness of related programs • Increase cost savings • Ensures compliance » Improve CFSR outcomes » Improves CSE collection outcomes • Support for the family is not just monetary • Creates internal system advocacy
    21. 21. General Techniques for Creating Lasting Change • Community demand • Rule of law • Policy • Processes • Tools 21
    22. 22. • High Level Advocate • Engage at the department head level • Engage at worker level • Design within the existing resources; connect to existing programs • Identify where the public and private sectors intersects and where the fatherhood program will touch • The Right Program Manager (creativity, tenacity, knowledge base, affinity for men, connections to the community) TECHNIQUES creating lasting change
    23. 23. Creating lasting change (cont’d) • Incorporate evidence based fatherhood program • Train and educate professionals and partners to value a father's contribution to healthy family functioning and to assure opportunities for fathers through improved case planning, expanded father oriented services, and support for building stronger father-child relationships • Collect and present data to educate systems on the vital role fathers have in the life of their children • Improve the use of dad’s/paternal family as placement alternatives in out-of-home placement situations • Establish a comprehensive community based support program that supports father-child connections • Work collaboratively with others in the city to enhance paternal involvement and increase capacity of related programs • Develop measurable outcomes and highlight 23
    24. 24. • Connecting with other Divisions and Programs o Assistance Programs o Resource Family Recruitment o Volunteer and Giving Programs o Foundations like Casey Family Programs, American Humane, National Coalition for Fathers and Families 24 OPPORTUNITIES
    25. 25. • Design by recognizing and building upon existing resources • Acknowledge and coordinate with existing programs and services • Find ways to help • Public Relations • Funding/Grants • Community engagement 25 SUSTAINABILITY
    26. 26. 26 Case study b
    27. 27. Mission The mission of the ‘Men Behaving Dadly’ program is to educate, advocate, integrate and promote dads’ active and positive involvement in the lives of their children. Short Term Goal •Successful completion of 10 week program •Increased or continued parenting time* Intermediate Goal •Fathers begin or continue to meet financial obligation* •Fathers begin or continue to have cooperative interactions with mother of child* Long-term Goal •Father engaged in child’s life for at least 12 months** *based on individual baseline; see scale. ** For incarcerated fathers, from the time the court allows for father-child interaction. For all others, in conjunction with the parenting sessions. 27
    28. 28. Men Behaving Dadly • 65% of parenting class participants are referred by the Denver Juvenile Court. • There are currently 37 participants with 257 graduates from the 10 –week parenting class that began Dec. 2009. • 20 received sole custody, etc. (example) • 17 families are now receiving child support from the former absent father • 31 dads are employed 28
    29. 29. MBD Partnerships • Bi-weekly education effort to different communities via the film ‘Daddy Hunger’ • Ongoing referrals to community resources for assistance with housing and employment • 2 of 4 of the classes for Fathers are held in a community site vs. at Social Services • Involved with DHS’ Integration Team 29
    30. 30. • Parenting classes using ‘Responsible Fatherhood’ curriculum • Regularly scheduled group support sessions weeknights and weekends: – established class uses ‘Inside-Out Dad’ curriculum – drop-in • Specialized Equine Therapy • Provide financial assistance for items such as tools, work clothes, transportation, travel for parenting time or reunification efforts • Job readiness, resume writing, basic computer training, and ESL classes • GED test-preparations services 30 MBD Father’s Activities
    31. 31. Result of Institutionalizing Fatherhood Program • Initial referral and investigation • Absent parent search • Team Decision Making • Dependency & Neglect • Court agreement • Treatment plan • Database search 31
    32. 32. Child Support Example of WHY • Reduction of the growth of uncollectable arrears on caseloads • Improve performance outcomes in the payment of current child support orders • Changing image of child support: child support workers see it as a good way to demonstrate balance in its approach to noncustodial parents. • Potential for helping children build positive relationships with their fathers 32 Open Cases: 24,536 Orders Established: 1,540 Orders Modified: 1,865 Paternity Established: 611 Caseload with orders: 89.8% % of cases with current support paid: 58.3% % of arrears cases with payment on arrears: 66.3% # of open cases with non custodial parent in doc: 1,503 # of non custodial parent on parole: 1,030 # of cases with TANF arrears only: 6,476
    33. 33. Result of Institutionalizing Child Support Enforcement Division • Reduce the filing of Default Orders • Early outreach during the establishment process - involve both parents • Up front sharing of information about the system and processes • Agreements without hearings • # of stipulated orders increased • End practice of 12% interest on delinquent accounts • End retroactive support when filing new orders • Enhance the process of negotiating child support • Mediation services to address access and visitation • Increase court order compliance 33
    34. 34. Integrating and institutionalizing father-friendly practice means helping staff make a critical paradigm shift: 34 FROM… Father as a Problem TO…Father as a Partner
    35. 35. Questions? 35
    36. 36. Nathan L. O’Neal, PhD, MBA Executive Director Men Behaving Dadly 855.623.3237 4008 Cook St. Denver, Co 80216 36