Date of Award


Degree Type


University or Center

Clark Atlanta University(CAU)


School of Social Work

Degree Name



Social Work and Public Health

First Advisor

Dr. Richard Lyle

Second Advisor

Dr. Robert W. Waymer

Third Advisor

Dr. Komanduri S. Murty


This study examines parental involvement with reference to accessibility, engagement, and responsibility to their children; and to what extent such an involvement is influenced by the father and/or the custodial parent’s behavior factors (history of companionship and offspring), peripheral factors (institutional and program participation), and personal characteristics (age, education, employment, occupation, income, etc.). The study sample consists of 163 African-American unwed fathers with at least one child out of wedlock for whom they must pay child support. All respondents participated in the study voluntarily. The sample selection was based on random drawings from electronic case files and referral sources to the Child Access and Visitation Program which is conducted by a community based social work organization serving metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia. The conceptual model of the study included series of structural equations leading to parental involvement. Data analysis was conducted at both descriptive and inferential levels. The inferential statistics included a series of multiple regression equations guided by the conceptual model in order to determine the model strengths, fitness of equation, and the strength of the predictors. Results show that characteristics of both parents significantly affect their history of companionship and offspring, which in turn affects their (parental) relationship. The parental relationship also seems to be influenced by institutional factors. Their parental relationship, in its turn, significantly affects the variable of program impact; and, father’s accessibility, engagement and responsibility toward his child(ren). Although a bidirectional relationship between program impact and parental involvement is proposed in the conceptual model, the data supported only a unidirectional impact of program impact on parental involvement. In sum, study results suggest that the parental relationship, the unwed father’s legal standing and child support status are critical predictors of parental involvement. The study findings may prove to be useful not only for policy makers in this area, but also to social science researchers, and social work practitioners, program managers, case work supervisors, father-custodial parent mediators, and obviously, the unwed fathers themselves.

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