|Promoting Responsible Fatherhood||Federal Research Site|
| Partners for Fragile Families
HHS has a continuing partnership with the private-sector initiative, Partners for Fragile Families (PFF). This initiative is aimed at helping fathers work with the mothers of their children in sharing the legal, financial, and emotional responsibilities of parenthood. In March 2000, HHS approved ten state waivers for the Partners for Fragile Families Demonstration projects. Working at the community level with non-profit and faith-based partners to provide employment, health, and social services, these projects will test new approaches to involving young fathers with their children and to helping mothers and fathers build stronger parenting partnerships. Projects sites are located in California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
The Office of Child Support
Enforcement has funded Fatherhood Development Workshops on effective
practices for working with young unemployed and underemployed fathers;
the development of a manual for workers to use in helping low-income
fathers learn to interact more effectively with the child support enforcement
system; and a peer learning college for child support enforcement experts to
identify systemic barriers these young fathers face in becoming responsible
The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program it created, made moving people from welfare to work a primary goal of federal welfare policy. The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 furthered this goal, authorizing the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to award $3 billion in welfare-to-work grants to states and local communities to promote job opportunities and employment preparation for the hardest-to-employ recipients of TANF and for noncustodial parents of children on TANF. Grants are awarded directly by DOL on a competitive basis to programs in local communities with innovative welfare-to-work approaches, and through states, on a formula basis, to the Private Industry Councils or equivalent bodies in all JTPA service delivery areas (now Workforce Investment Boards, under the Workforce Investment Act, which replaced JTPA).
This welfare-to-work approach emphasized close monitoring of child support compliance and strove to limit the burden of child support obligations on the NCPs, so these did not become a disincentive to work. Specifically, The Support Has A Rewarding Effect (SHARE) initiative operated with Welfare-to-Work (WtW) grant support in three counties in the state of Washington. SHARE involved collaboration among the welfare and workforce investment systems, child support enforcement agency, and employment and training providers. The SHARESHARE offered three options to noncustodial parents (NCP) whose minor, dependent children were receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and who were in arrears on their support obligations:
The main objective of this study was to examine the employment, earnings, and child support outcomes for targeted NCPs.
Noncustodial Parents: A Descriptive Study of Welfare-to-Work Programs,
by Karin Martinson and John Trutko (Urban Institute) and Debra Strong (Mathematica Policy
Research, Inc.), December 2000. Also
available in PDF format.
OCSE Responsible Fatherhood Demonstrations
Eight states (California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, Washington, and Wisconsin) received Responsible Fatherhood demonstration grants or waivers through the Office of Child Support Enforcement to allow them to test comprehensive approaches to encourage more responsible fathering by non-custodial parents. Each state project is different but they all provide a range of needed services such as job search and training, access and visitation, social services or referral, case management and child support. The initial implementation report, OCSE Responsible Fatherhood Programs: Early Implementation Lessons, and the final report OCSE Responsible Fatherhood Programs: Client Characteristics and Program Outcomes (in PDF only) are available on line.
The implementation report provides information about the program models used and the
lessons learned in client recruitment and retention. The outcome report
describes service delivery and program outcomes. The report indicates the
responsible fatherhood services resulted in: increased employment rates, ranging
from 8 to 33 percent, and increased incomes, ranging from 25 to 250 percent,
especially for those who were unemployed previously; increased child
support compliance, ranging from 4 to 31 percent; primarily for those who had
not been paying previously; and increased time spent with children; 27
percent of the fathers reported seeing their children more often after the
program A press release on the outcome report is also available at
Sites in seven states participated in Parents' Fair Share (PFS), a demonstration project conducted by MDRC that provided employment-related training, parenting education, peer group support, and mediation services to encourage low-income fathers to be more involved with their children and increase their payment of child support. Current available reports:
Broke, But Not Deadbeat:
Reconnecting Low-Income Fathers and their Children
Low-income, unwed fathers have a difficult time keeping up with child support payments
and are often unfairly labeled deadbeat dads.
Although they want to provide support for their children, more commonly they lack the financial
resources to pay their full child support obligation. More often, wages
they earn about $8,000 per year are not high enough to support
themselves and a family. This guide to developing programs that serve low-income non-custodial fathers
is available from NCSL and the above link.
Restoring Fathers to Families and Communities:
Six Steps for Policy Makers
Across the country, states and communities are mobilizing to increase fathers' involvement in the lives of their children. The strategies they are choosing vary widely, reflecting the philosophical differences about the definition of responsible fatherhood. Some efforts focus on teaching men the skills they need to be good fathers; others concentrate on child support enforcement; still others promote marriage and two-parent family formation.
This guide lays out a detailed six-step strategy for promoting father involvement, especially
among low-income, unwed men. The guide will be most useful for
state legislators, governors, and agency officials looking for ways to
better serve fathers. But local government officials, businesses,
community-based organizations, and the faith community will find ideas
they can use as well. [in PDF format] By Kathleen Sylvester
and Kathy Rich, Social Policy Action Network.
The report also available from the Annie
E. Casey Foundation.
Guidance on Federal Resources
The Departments of Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Education, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, and Labor, have issued a joint guidance, Meeting the Challenge: What the Federal Government Can Do To Support Responsible Fatherhood Efforts, January 2001.
The guidance provides information to communities, States, and fathers about Federal resources
to support the development and implementation of responsible fatherhood efforts.
The guidance discusses the types of fatherhood programs being developed;
potential funding streams, both direct Federal and State administered;
partnership opportunities; and provides sources of information relevant to
the development of fatherhood programs. Presidential Statement.
TANF Funding Guidance
In 1999, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) released
A Guide to Funding
Services for Children and Families Through the Temporary Assistance for Needy
Families (TANF) Program, which provides examples of ways states could
use their TANF funds to support responsible fatherhood efforts and employment
of non-custodial parents. Thirteen states have appropriations to use TANF
funds for fatherhood programs. Among these states are Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, and Ohio.
Last Revised: July 22, 2011