Fathers as 'core business' in child welfare practice and research: An interdisciplinary review

Lee Zanoni*, Wayne Warburton, Kay Bussey, Anne McMaugh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)


This literature review draws from a wide array of interdisciplinary research to argue that fathers need to be included in child welfare practice and research to the same extent as mothers. Social work and child maltreatment literature highlight that fathers are often overlooked and viewed more negatively than mothers in child welfare practice. There are noteworthy theoretical and practical reasons for this poor engagement of fathers in practice. However, advances in attachment theory and recent research findings from developmental and fathering literature indicate that fathers influence their children independently from mothers and equally strongly. Further research demonstrates that fathers and father figures can be both potential risk factors and protective factors in the lives of vulnerable children. Therefore, children are placed at increased risk if dangerous fathers are not engaged, and are also significantly disadvantaged if supportive fathers are not engaged. The review concludes with practical implications for child welfare practice and research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1055-1070
Number of pages16
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


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