Journal Article

‘Here's my Story’: Fathers of ‘Looked After’ Children Recount their Experiences in the Canadian Child Welfare System

Lena Dominelli, Susan Strega, Chris Walmsley, Marilyn Callahan and Leslie Brown

in The British Journal of Social Work

Volume 41, issue 2, pages 351-367
Published in print March 2011 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online August 2010 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcq099
‘Here's my Story’: Fathers of ‘Looked After’ Children Recount their Experiences in the Canadian Child Welfare System

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Fathers tend to be excluded and ‘invisible’ participants in the child welfare system. We interviewed fathers with ‘looked after’ children in a child protection system in Western Canada. They wanted active roles in children's lives and to become engaged fathers, whether the children were theirs by birth or not. Their stories exposed the strategies they used to convince social workers that they were ‘good enough’ fathers. In the telling, they revealed the barriers they surmounted to create meaningful relationships with these children. In this paper, we focus on the stories fathers used to describe their involvement in caring for children. These were: ‘misrepresented dad’; ‘survivor dad’; ‘mothering father’; ‘denied identity dad’; and ‘citizen dad’. We conclude that the fathers' narratives depict a complex typology that transcends the ‘good father’–‘bad father’ binary that informs practice and consider how social workers can involve fathers more effectively in child welfare practice by actively listening and drawing on their strengths.

Keywords: Fathering; narrative; child welfare; social exclusion; resilience

Journal Article.  6594 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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