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The SSRC Library allows visitors to access materials related to self-sufficiency programs, practice and research. Visitors can view common search terms, conduct a keyword search or create a custom search using any combination of the filters at the left side of this page. To conduct a keyword search, type a term or combination of terms into the search box below, select whether you want to search the exact phrase or the words in any order, and click on the blue button to the right of the search box to view relevant results.

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  • Individual Author: Carlson, Marcia J.; Magnuson, Katherine A.
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2011

    This article examines what we know about how low-income fathers matter for children. The authors first provide a theoretical background about how parents generally (and fathers more specifically) are expected to influence children’s development and well-being. The authors note the importance of considering differences across children’s age, gender, and race/ethnicity; and they identify key methodological challenges in this area. Then, they summarize the literature on residential fathers and child well-being, finding that greater involvement has been linked to better outcomes for children; however, much of this research has been conducted on more socioeconomically advantaged samples. For fathers who live away from their children, child support payments appear to improve children’s outcomes, but the benefits of father-child interaction are much less clear and likely depend on the quality of the interaction and the characteristics of fathers. Overall, the authors conclude that low-income fathers can have a positive influence on children’s well-being, but the evidence about...

    This article examines what we know about how low-income fathers matter for children. The authors first provide a theoretical background about how parents generally (and fathers more specifically) are expected to influence children’s development and well-being. The authors note the importance of considering differences across children’s age, gender, and race/ethnicity; and they identify key methodological challenges in this area. Then, they summarize the literature on residential fathers and child well-being, finding that greater involvement has been linked to better outcomes for children; however, much of this research has been conducted on more socioeconomically advantaged samples. For fathers who live away from their children, child support payments appear to improve children’s outcomes, but the benefits of father-child interaction are much less clear and likely depend on the quality of the interaction and the characteristics of fathers. Overall, the authors conclude that low-income fathers can have a positive influence on children’s well-being, but the evidence about the population overall is rather weak. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Cancian, Maria; Meyer, Daniel R.; Reed, Deborah
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2010

    A large percentage of poor children live with just one parent, usually their mother, and single-parent families are more vulnerable to economic downturns than are two-parent families. Living arrangements also affect the optimal design of policies related to income support and child support. In this paper we briefly review changes in family structure and the relationship between family structure and employment, and then focus on policies that are essential to reducing poverty in the context of the current work-based safety net, in which low-income families with children rely increasingly on mothers’ earnings. We argue that economically vulnerable families will benefit the most from policies that support resident parents’ efforts to balance work and caretaking, and that support and enforce nonresident parents’ contributions. We highlight key policies that help resident parents balance responsibilities, including support for access to child care and preschool, family-friendly workplace policies, and earnings supplements (e.g., the EITC). We also outline a set of policies designed to...

    A large percentage of poor children live with just one parent, usually their mother, and single-parent families are more vulnerable to economic downturns than are two-parent families. Living arrangements also affect the optimal design of policies related to income support and child support. In this paper we briefly review changes in family structure and the relationship between family structure and employment, and then focus on policies that are essential to reducing poverty in the context of the current work-based safety net, in which low-income families with children rely increasingly on mothers’ earnings. We argue that economically vulnerable families will benefit the most from policies that support resident parents’ efforts to balance work and caretaking, and that support and enforce nonresident parents’ contributions. We highlight key policies that help resident parents balance responsibilities, including support for access to child care and preschool, family-friendly workplace policies, and earnings supplements (e.g., the EITC). We also outline a set of policies designed to support and require nonresident parents’ contributions, including reforms aimed at creating a child support enforcement system clearly focused on improving child well-being, rather than government cost recovery, and policies supporting nonresident parents’ ability to work and pay support.(author abstract)

    Earlier versions of this resource have been published by the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin, and by the Urban Institute.

  • Individual Author: Curran, Laura
    Year: 2003

    In recent years social welfare policies and practices have increasingly addressed men's roles as fathers. The landmark welfare reform legislation, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) (P.L. 104-193), contains significant revisions in child support legislation. Rapid growth has occurred in the number of social services programs working with fathers. This article introduces social workers to these policy and practice initiatives. Through a critical review of research and descriptive programmatic material, this article considers the mixed implications of these policy and practice interventions for family well-being and recommends future directions for policy and practice.(author abstract)

    In recent years social welfare policies and practices have increasingly addressed men's roles as fathers. The landmark welfare reform legislation, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) (P.L. 104-193), contains significant revisions in child support legislation. Rapid growth has occurred in the number of social services programs working with fathers. This article introduces social workers to these policy and practice initiatives. Through a critical review of research and descriptive programmatic material, this article considers the mixed implications of these policy and practice interventions for family well-being and recommends future directions for policy and practice.(author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Farrel, Mary; Glosser, Asaph; Gardiner, Karen
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2003

    Child support provides an important source of income for many low-income families. Because state welfare reform policies have placed a stronger emphasis on work and adopted time limits on welfare receipt, increasing child support for families while they are on welfare and after they leave becomes even more critical for family self sufficiency. Welfare and child support programs have long been intertwined. The child support enforcement program (CSE), Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, was established in 1975 primarily as a method of reducing public expenditures on welfare. If the family is on welfare, child support obtained from non-custodial parents by the CSE agency is used to reimburse the government for benefits paid to these families (i.e., cost recovery). Reforms in the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) and other policy changes have shifted the child support enforcement program toward a more family-centered mission. Given the common populations served and the role that child support payments play in self-sufficiency and cost...

    Child support provides an important source of income for many low-income families. Because state welfare reform policies have placed a stronger emphasis on work and adopted time limits on welfare receipt, increasing child support for families while they are on welfare and after they leave becomes even more critical for family self sufficiency. Welfare and child support programs have long been intertwined. The child support enforcement program (CSE), Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, was established in 1975 primarily as a method of reducing public expenditures on welfare. If the family is on welfare, child support obtained from non-custodial parents by the CSE agency is used to reimburse the government for benefits paid to these families (i.e., cost recovery). Reforms in the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) and other policy changes have shifted the child support enforcement program toward a more family-centered mission. Given the common populations served and the role that child support payments play in self-sufficiency and cost recovery, understanding the interaction between child support and welfare is important. The Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) contracted with Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC) to conduct a study that examines the interaction between Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and child support. This literature review provides background information for this study. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: McLanahan, Sara S.; Carlson, Marcia J.
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2002

    Recognizing that most poor families are single-parent families, the federal welfare reform law of 1996 emphasized the responsibility of both parents to support their children. In addition to strengthening the child support enforcement system, the law included several provisions designed to decrease childbearing outside of marriage and to promote two-parent families. This article focuses on the important role that fathers play in children's lives and how public policies have affected childbearing and father involvement. Key observations are:

    • Compared with children living with both biological parents, children in father-absent families often have fewer economic and socioemotional resources from their parents, and do not fare as well on many outcome measures.
    • Efforts to reduce the rising number of father-absent families by focusing on preventing unwanted pregnancy among unmarried women, especially teen girls, have met with some success; those programs seeking to alter adolescents' life opportunities in addition to providing education or family planning services...

    Recognizing that most poor families are single-parent families, the federal welfare reform law of 1996 emphasized the responsibility of both parents to support their children. In addition to strengthening the child support enforcement system, the law included several provisions designed to decrease childbearing outside of marriage and to promote two-parent families. This article focuses on the important role that fathers play in children's lives and how public policies have affected childbearing and father involvement. Key observations are:

    • Compared with children living with both biological parents, children in father-absent families often have fewer economic and socioemotional resources from their parents, and do not fare as well on many outcome measures.
    • Efforts to reduce the rising number of father-absent families by focusing on preventing unwanted pregnancy among unmarried women, especially teen girls, have met with some success; those programs seeking to alter adolescents' life opportunities in addition to providing education or family planning services appear to hold the most promise.
    • Efforts to encourage greater father involvement by focusing almost exclusively on increasing absent parents' child support payments reap only minimal benefits for poor children because their absent parents often have few resources and little incentive to make support payments.
    • To date, efforts to increase the emotional involvement of unmarried fathers with their children have produced disappointing results, but new research suggests that such programs can make a difference when targeting fathers at the time of a child's birth.

    Many children spend some time living away from their fathers, deprived of the financial and emotional resources they can provide. Because of the importance of fathers to child well-being, the authors conclude that new directions in research and public policies are needed to encourage greater father involvement across the wide diversity of family arrangements in society today. (author abstract)

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