Definitional Tools


Definitional tools are important because they explicitly define what the initiative, program, or intervention is and what is isn't. They:

  • Describe the problem, concern, or issue that is to be addressed, solved, or ameliorated.
  • Explain why and to whom the concern or issue is important.
  • Provide relevant background information.
  • Provide underlying theories and logic used in taking a particular approach or path.
  • Describe essential meanings, concepts, and philosophies.
  • Articulate the benefits for children, youth, and families.

Statement of the Problem

According to 2009 U.S. Census Bureau data:

  • Over 24 million children - or 1 out of every 3 children (33%) - live apart from their biological fathers,
  • Nearly 2 in 3 (64%) African American children live in father-absent homes,
  • 1 in 3 (34%) Hispanic children live in father-absent homes, and
  • 1 in 4 (25%) White children live in father-absent homes.

In 1960, only 11% of children lived in father-absent homes (National Fatherhood Initiative).

For more statistics about fathers, visit the U.S. Census Bureau website.

Theoretical Framework For Father Engagement

In the past, many have used a deficit model when describing the relationship between fathers and their children. The child welfare system has tended to blame fathers for their absence, both from their children's lives and from their presence and participation in CPS. <more>

Logic Models (General)

One of the first things that counties and organizations can do when planning their father engagement approach is to create a logic model that graphically depicts their resources, activities, and projected outcomes. <more>

Logic Models Used in California's Father Engagement Efforts

Strategies, a nationally recognized alliance of professional trainers, organizational development coaches, facilitators, and support staff, whose mission is to provide quality training, coaching, facilitation, curriculum development, and practical application of research, present a logic model as an example.

  • Napa County uses this logic model to help guide their father engagement activities.

Father Engagement Strategies

Counties conducted a father friendliness organizational self-assessment (OSA) that assessed their organizations father friendliness in eight areas:

1. Organizational Support
2. Position and Reputation in the Community
3. Agency Policies and Procedures
4. Staffing/Human Resources
5. Program Services
6. Physical Environment
7. Communication and Interaction
8. Collaboration and Organizational Networking

After counties analyzed the results from the administration of their OSAs, they created father engagement strategies they felt would be most beneficial to fathers and families. The counties that participated in the statewide pilot completed a planning form where they recorded their prospective strategies and noted the strategy(ies) they would employ, the desired outcome(s) of the strategy, criteria for knowing whether the outcome would be achieved, and how information would be handled. View or download the strategy evaluation form.

Father Engagement Strategies Used in California Counties' Father Engagement Efforts

NOTE: After strategies have been implemented, they should be continually assessed for effectiveness and efficiency. If the strategy does not yield the desired outcome, perhaps it should be modified and re-implemented. The cycle may take several times until the strategy is implemented as intended, assessed, and perfected.