The Benefits and Challenges of Training Child Protection Social Workers in Father Engagement

Nina Maxwell, Jonathan Scourfield, Sally Holland, Brid Featherstone, Jacquie Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


It is widely recognised that, in a child protection context, practitioners tend to focus on working with mothers more than fathers. This may undermine risk management and limit the resources available for the care of children. This paper discusses the process of developing and running a training intervention for child protection social workers, designed to improve father engagement (with 'fathers' defined inclusively). A short course was provided, consisting of one day of awareness-raising about the importance of work with fathers and one day of motivational interviewing skills training. The emphasis in the paper is on insights from the qualitative elements of the mixed-method process evaluation, namely, observation and pre- and post-course interviews. In particular, there is discussion of the potential benefits and challenges of this kind of training, with consideration given to the general issue of father engagement and more specifically the potential for using motivational interviewing in child protection practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-310
Number of pages12
JournalChild Abuse Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes


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