The legislative framework of social work practice has consistently the need to work in partnership with parents with far reaching implications for families. However, the importance of engaging fathers in social work is an issue which as received limited attention within academic debate and research. a research centre undertaken across six family centres investigated parental involvement in family centre social work in Northern Ireland. the study involved 46 semi-structured interviews with mothers, fathers and social workers. this paper presents the views of 22 social workers on the barriers to paternal involvement in family centre social work. a range of factors were identified which served to promote or inhibit fathers' involvement. There were substantially more deterrents than promoters, a clear indicator of the problematic involvement of fathers.. Recommendations are developed for the promotion of father-inclusive practice.