Covid-19 Web Panel

Policies Affecting Child Welfare Systems and Non-Custodial Parents

Thursday, June 25th, 2020 @ 3-4pm (ET)



The COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly stressful on blended families, including those in which there are shared custody arrangements, or children living with non-parent caregivers. In these circumstances, non-custodial parents may have to negotiate arrangements to see their children. Such arrangements sometimes include kinship and foster care, which potentially could become increasingly prevalent to protect children from child abuse and domestic violence that is anticipated in the wake of stay-at-home orders. In fact, shared custody arrangements can be protective for child safety, but quarantine has created changes to many parents’ visitation rights. While the Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018 has incentivized kinship care, few states proactively engage  fathers’ family members. In addition to visitation challenges, economic hardships may create difficulties for child support orders. In split custody arrangements, some of those most affected by unemployment are not benefiting from relief packages as many states have intercepted these resources via Child Support Enforcement. Moreover, many parents are grappling with decisions about continuing to work in essential-jobs that could jeopardize healthy and safe child visitation in order to sustain income via higher risk jobs. Thus, we must consider the implications of various custody and child placement policies for children and families. There are several key implications for child welfare agencies and family courts to facilitate responses to the complex challenges presented by COVID-19 as we phase back from stay-at-home orders. This virtual research panel will discuss issues and policies related to child welfare systems, fathers and non-custodial parents, and family courts.

This panel will discuss innovative ways to strengthen social support mechanisms that permeate family functioning in multiple domains. In particular, we seek to consider how policymakers can leverage existing resources to aid families in crises that extend beyond infectious disease.


Armon Perry

Armon R. Perry, Ph.D., MSW is a Professor and Director of the BSW Program at the University of Louisville’s Kent School of Social Work. Dr. Perry teaches Introduction to Social Work. Dr. Perry’s research interests include fathers’ involvement in the lives of their children, leading him to co-edit, Fatherhood in America: Social Work Perspectives in a Changing Society, a comprehensive edited volume addressing the micro and macro factors shaping paternal involvement. Currently, Dr. Perry serves as the Principal Investigator of the 4 Your Child Program, a federally funded multi-site project that aims to increase non-resident fathers’ capacity for paternal involvement. In addition to his teaching and research, Dr. Perry has professional experience in the areas of child protective services and as a parent education curriculum facilitator.

Waldo Johnson

Waldo E. Johnson, Jr. is associate professor at the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He has published extensively on nonresident fatherhood and the life course roles and experiences of urban African American males. His active research affiliations include the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture and the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation of the University of Chicago, the Program for Research on Black Americans (PRBA) at the Institute for Social Research, the Center for Research on Ethnicity, Culture and Health (CRECH), School of Public Health and Scholars Network on Masculinity and the Well-Being of African American Males, all at the University of Michigan. He is also a member of the Poverty and Transitions to Adulthood Network, University of Wisconsin Madison; and the Working Group on Health Disparities in Men and Boys, Public Interest Directorate, American Psychological Association. Professor Johnson previously served on the Steering Committee, Fatherhood Research and Practice Network, Temple University and the Welfare Research and Family Self-Sufficiency Technical Working Group, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, US Department of Health and Human Services. He served as a research consultant for the Parents and Children Together (PACT) Study, the federal ACF mixed-methods longitudinal responsible fatherhood and healthy marriage study during the Obama Administration led by Mathematica Policy Research. He is the editor of Social Work with African American Males: Health, Mental Health and Social Policy (2010, Oxford University Press).

Natasha Cabrera

Natasha J. Cabrera, Ph.D, is Professor of Human Development at the University of Maryland. Her research focuses on father involvement and children’s social and cognitive development; adaptive and maladaptive factors related to parenting and cultural variation in ethnic minority families; and, the mechanisms linking early experiences to children’s school readiness. Dr. Cabrera has published in peer-reviewed journals on policy, methodology, theory and the implications of fathering and mothering behaviors on child development in low-income minority families. She is the co-editor of the Handbook of Father Involvement: Multidisciplinary Perspectives, 2nd Edition (Taylor & Francis, 2013) and Latina/o Child Psychology and Mental Health: Vol 1 and 2 (Praeger, 2011). Dr. Cabrera is the recipient of the National Council and Family Relations award for Best Research Article regarding men in families in 2009. In 2015, the National Academy of Sciences appointed her to its committee on parents of young children; in 2016, she was a Russell Sage Foundation Visiting Scholar; and, in 2017 she was a DAAD visiting scholar, University of Ruhr, Germany. She is co-PI at the National Center for Research on Hispanic Families and Children co-directing the fatherhood and healthy marriage focus area.  

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