How does a father's involvement affect children's mental well-being and development in families served by child welfare? How can a father's potential for playing a positive role in children's lives be supported, even if he doesn't live in the same home? These are two of the key questions Jennifer Bellamy, assistant professor at the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration, is studying in her research. Oftentimes, fathers are not regarded as central to the delivery of child and family services, she finds, and the social service organizations are not aligned to include and serve fathers, especially those who do not share the same household as their children.
Bellamy is one of a small number of researchers who has studied fathering among families served by child welfare, and she reports that even non-resident fathers can positively influence their children's behavior. An involved father makes it less likely that the children will find their way into foster care and more likely that the youths will have positive mental health outcomes. The challenge, she finds, is developing the right set of parenting programs - and the right service providers - that are effective and appealing to fathers. The expectation that fathers engage in services that have traditionally served women results in low participation. For example, many fathers express an interest in brief and hands-on services, such as a day-long Daddy Boot Camp, rather than the traditional evening sessions over a number of weeks that are common to traditional parental training. Bellamy's research is pointing to the need for more training and services focused on the special needs of fathers. Service providers are often overwhelmed by high caseloads and few resources, and may lack the time and training to work effectively with fathers. Even though many service providers are interested in working with fathers, their inclusion and engagement can pose unique challenges.
Jennifer Bellamy is an Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration. Her fields of interest include mental health services, child welfare, evidence-based practice, and fathering.
At SSA, Professor Bellamy teaches courses in integrating evidence into practice. She has also published extensively in the area of evidence-based social work practice. Her current research involves fathers and their involvement in early childhood development. Her clinical social work experience is in mental health counseling.
Professor Bellamy has a B.A. and M.S.W., from the University of Texas at Austin and a Ph.D. from Columbia University.
969 E 60th St
Chicago IL 60637