Dads Matter 2


The Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services actively works to ensure dads are involved in any matters relating to their children.

With the #DadsMatter2 program, we’re strengthening our efforts to identify, locate, engage, and support dads. Because when fathers are involved, it benefits children, empowers fathers, strengthens families, and builds up communities.

Involved Fathers Influence a Child’s Well-Being

The presence of a safe and responsible father can have profound positive effects on a child including:


 Improved academic performance             Healthy self-esteem in adolescents
 Lower levels of depression     Regular school attendance
 Less behavior problems       Reduced substance use
 Form healthy relationships    Positive social behavior
 Reduction of future maltreatment    Experience less poverty
     

Healthy Relationships & Co-Parenting

A child needs BOTH parents in their life.

Please consider fostering a positive relationship with your child’s father or mother.

A father who has a relationship with the mother of his child, based on respect, is more likely to be involved and spend time with his child. Conflict is harmful to children. This remains true regardless of whether or not the parents are married or living together.

  • Children are more likely to be happy and well-adjusted when their parents get along. The stress of parental conflict can have a negative effect on children and even on their immune system causing health problems.
  • Children who witness their father’s anger toward their mother are more at risk for depression, aggression, and poor health and may be more withdrawn and anxious.
  • Girls with involved, respectful fathers, see how they should be treated by men and are less likely to become involved in violent or unhealthy relationships.
  • Just as child maltreatment and domestic abuse can be passed on from one generation to the next, so can respect, caring, and kindness.

    Attention Dads: You Have Rights!

Are you a dad who does not live with your child and learned your child may be the victim of suspected abuse or neglect? Even if you aren’t your child’s caretaker, or don’t see your child often, there are many things you and your relatives can do to ensure your child is safe and with family quickly.

Why this is important

Your child’s custody case will move fast.

Important decisions will be made early about:

  • where your child will live,
  • what services your child needs, and
  • who your child gets to visit or contact.

You must know how to help your child through this process and protect your rights to your child.

Rights:

As a parent, you have rights in child welfare custody cases. If you are the child’s legal father, you have the same rights as your child’s mother, including the right to:

  • Ongoing contact with your child unless the court or agency finds it is not in your child’s best interest or may harm him or her.
  • The right to care for and ask for custody of your child.
  • The right to take part in planning for your child’s placement.
  • The right to bring whomever you would like to the table to accept care of your children, should you not be able to provide care yourself.
  • The right to be a part of the decision making and case planning for your family.
  • The right to prompt notification of all court hearings and meetings related to your child.

Responsibilities:

Proving you are the father. Knowing you are the child’s father does not mean the court will recognize you as the father and automatically give you these rights. You may have to prove you are the child’s “legal” father. There are two (2) ways to establish paternity:

  1. Contact Office of Child Support @216-443-5100 to sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit. Both parties must provide photo identification and the child’s birth certificate and sign the document before a notary.
  2. The second method of establishing paternity is through DNA genetic testing. A mouth swab is performed on all parties. The results will be mailed to the parties within thirty (30) days of all parties being tested.

Be involved. Being an active participant in the life of your child, will offer your child many life-long benefits. Make sure you attend all visits with your child and be on time. Work with your caseworker to establish a visitation time that works for you. Your caseworker will make every effort to be sure that your visits are frequent and take place in the least restrictive environment that will be comfortable and safe for your child.

Be present. When you visit with your child focus only on your child. This time is best spent interacting with your child through play, sharing a meal, listening to music, or talking about their day.

Be heard. Make your identity and contact information known to the caseworker. There will be times that you are invited to join the agency in meetings to talk about progress in your case and discuss problems and identify solutions. This is your opportunity to share your opinion regarding your child’s care and case. Bring relatives or other important people to the table. Ask questions to be clear about the decisions that are made and what is expected of you and by when. You also have a key role in the court process. By coming to court and being an active participant in the hearings you can help your child and protect your rights.

Be an active participant. The agency will develop a case plan with you. This plan will outline services or tasks that you must complete to live with, or have more contact with your child and to have the case closed. Your input in case planning is very important. Once you are linked to services it is your responsibility to complete them and provide confirmation to the caseworker.

Stay involved and keep in contact. Respond to the caseworker and stay in touch! Things move quickly, and we may have to contact you without much notice. If any of your contact information changes, be sure to contact the caseworker right away with the new information. It is your responsibility to update the caseworker regularly about your progress on your case plan services or if you encounter any barriers (i.e. transportation, child care, conflicts with your job, service not meeting your needs). Establish regular contact with the caseworker so he/she knows you are interested and care about the well-being of your child.

Sources

National Fatherhood Initiative® (NFI)
Finding Your Way: Guides for Fathers in Child Protection Cases, a guide for use by fathers involved in child protection cases (child welfare cases) that you can download for FREE
http://site.americanhumane.org/fatherhooddocs/father_guide.pdf

Resources