28 Child L. Prac. 1 (2009-2010)

handle is hein.journals/chilawpt28 and id is 1 raw text is: AN
Ghild 110-Law Practice

Vol. 28 No. 1

March 2009

Helping Lawyers Help Kids

Article #4 in a series

Fathers in the Child Protection Process:
The Judicial Role (Part 1)
by Judge Leonard Edwards (ret.)

N oncustodial fathers rarely
appear in child protection
proceedings.1 Several reasons stand
out: the father is hard to locate, the
mother is ambivalent about engag-
ing the father, the caseworker
devalues fathers, and the father feels
outside the process and does not
want to participate. The list goes
As a judge presiding over child
protection cases, you have the
power to remove barriers and pro-
mote fathers' involvement in child
welfare legal proceedings. Fathers
are important to the child and to the

legal process3 and you play a critical
role in engaging them. This article
 why it is important to engage
fathers in the child protection
 the judge's role in determining
who the father is and in establish-
ing paternity;
 the judge's role in monitoring
agency actions to identify, locate,
notify, and support the father;
 the judge's role in engaging
fathers and their families in the
child protection process, both in
and out of court; and
 safety considerations for the
mother and child if the father
presents dangers to one or both.
Making Father
Engagement a Priority
Fathers need to be engaged in the
lives of their children4 unless they
pose a threat of harm. In the absence
of any risk of harm, judges must
take steps to ensure fathers partici-
pate in the court process.' Engaging
fathers in the child protection case
and legal proceedings is important
for several reasons:
* Protects the father's legal rights.
The father has a legal right to
participate in the proceedings. If
the court process does not include
the father, in some states he may

be able to attack the proceedings.
The father's late arrival in the
proceedings can affect the out-
come for the child and delay
permanency.6 Sometimes the
child protection process must
start over to give the father a fair
opportunity to reunify with his
child. If the father was never
notified of the proceedings, even
an adoption could be
Promotes children's social well-
being and healthy development.
Research reveals that children
have better outcomes when two
parents are involved with their
(Continued on page 6)
What's Inside:
Improving Child Welfare
Practice in Rural
What Passage of CHIPRA
Means for Child Advocates
Raising Funds for Courts:
Judges' Roles
Recovery Coaches Lower
Risk of Drug-Exposed

E-mail: childlawpractice@staff.abanet.org u Intemet: http://www.childlawpractice.org

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