Public Policy

Much of the workshop discussion about policy centered around noncustodial fathers and their economic responsibilities. Absent fathers have become the target of concentrated attention from federal, state, and local governments, working on the assumption that if fathers paid their fair share of support for their families, welfare costs could be reduced. A significant amount of federal and state funds currently is expended for establishing the paternity of children born to unmarried women. Issues surrounding child custody following divorce were also discussed at some length, as was preventing teenage males from becoming fathers in the first place. An area generally untouched by public policy is that of encouraging unmarried or divorced fathers to maintain a link with their children, even when financial support is unlikely.

Although most discussion focused on federal- and state-level policies, one participant reminded the workshop that many county- and local-level policies also affect fathers and families. Public health departments, parks and recreation departments, public works departments, transportation and housing strategies, and local economic development plans all play a part in lives of fathers and their families.

Throughout the discussion there was a pervasive recognition of the broader policy context in which these issues need to be considered. A central aspect of this context concerns the national reluctance to intervene in family matters, except when society bears the costs of noninvolvement—as in the case of welfare, foster care, and public health. The workshop



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America's Fathers and Public Policy: Report of a Workshop Public Policy Much of the workshop discussion about policy centered around noncustodial fathers and their economic responsibilities. Absent fathers have become the target of concentrated attention from federal, state, and local governments, working on the assumption that if fathers paid their fair share of support for their families, welfare costs could be reduced. A significant amount of federal and state funds currently is expended for establishing the paternity of children born to unmarried women. Issues surrounding child custody following divorce were also discussed at some length, as was preventing teenage males from becoming fathers in the first place. An area generally untouched by public policy is that of encouraging unmarried or divorced fathers to maintain a link with their children, even when financial support is unlikely. Although most discussion focused on federal- and state-level policies, one participant reminded the workshop that many county- and local-level policies also affect fathers and families. Public health departments, parks and recreation departments, public works departments, transportation and housing strategies, and local economic development plans all play a part in lives of fathers and their families. Throughout the discussion there was a pervasive recognition of the broader policy context in which these issues need to be considered. A central aspect of this context concerns the national reluctance to intervene in family matters, except when society bears the costs of noninvolvement—as in the case of welfare, foster care, and public health. The workshop

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America's Fathers and Public Policy: Report of a Workshop participants were not suggesting a shift toward more government intervention in families, but rather that the implications of the economically oriented policies for fathers' economic and noneconomic contributions to their families should be considered when policies are assessed. There was also a tension between those workshop participants who stressed the importance of the declining economic and educational infrastructure faced by many of today's fathers and those who stressed the responsibility of individual fathers to fulfill their familial obligations. FEDERAL POLICIES: IDENTIFYING FATHERS AND MAKING THEM PAY The federal government became involved in child support enforcement primarily as a means to defray growing welfare costs. Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), the core of a complex of programs designed to benefit poor families, was created by the Social Security Act of 1935 to give assistance to children in one-parent homes. AFDC traditionally has been, and still is, primarily an assistance program for single mothers. When the program started in 1935, 88 percent of recipients were widows with dependent children. Now more than 50 percent of recipients are never-married mothers and their children. Until the 1960s, families that were in need because fathers were unemployed were not eligible for AFDC. Now, under the Family Support Act of 1988, all states must offer assistance to two-parent families if the primary breadwinner becomes unemployed or works fewer than 100 hours a month; however, 13 states place time limits on the length of time that two-parent families can receive aid. Only 7 percent of the nearly 5 million families on welfare in 1993 were two-parent families (Congressional Research Service, 1993c). With the growth of families headed by never-married or divorced mothers receiving welfare, attention has turned to the role of absent fathers in providing financial support. Although some people argue that many fathers of children on AFDC have low or no wages, making their financial contribution unlikely to raise their children out of poverty (Hernandez, 1993), the prospect of reducing welfare payments has involved the government in child support enforcement. Child Support Enforcement As noted above, many fathers do not pay child support even when they have been ordered by the courts to do so. The Social Security Act of 1975 made the federal government a party in efforts to collect support from noncustodial fathers. This act set up the Child Support Enforcement (CSE)

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America's Fathers and Public Policy: Report of a Workshop program, which seeks to establish paternity for children born outside of marriage in order to collect support for these children, as well as for children of formerly married partners. The program was originally designed to serve only families receiving welfare assistance, but in 1981 its services were offered on a fee basis to other custodial parents seeking support from their children's fathers (or, in rare cases, mothers). Currently, all 50 states and the District of Columbia operate CSE programs, to which the federal government contributes 66 percent toward administrative costs plus incentive payments to the states. The federal government also reimburses state and local programs for 90 percent of the costs of genetic testing to establish paternity. CSE programs locate fathers, arrange to establish paternity, handle the procedures for obtaining child support awards, and collect payments. Beginning in November 1990, the law mandated immediate withholding from wages of child support orders issued or modified on behalf of AFDC children and non-AFDC children whose parents apply to the state CSE program for services. As of January 1, 1994, immediate withholding from wages of child support is required for all children (Congressional Research Service, 1993c). In 1991, CSE programs collected child support in 12 percent of AFDC cases and 29 percent of non-AFDC cases (Bureau of the Census, 1993). All AFDC recipients and applicants for welfare must assign their child support rights to the state. When support payments are made, the AFDC recipient receives up to $50 a month and the remainder goes to federal and state governments as reimbursement for welfare. Critics point out that this system may establish a disincentive for unmarried fathers to cooperate. As one participant put it: “Policy is constraining the direct contributions of these young men to their families.” Results of focus groups with noncustodial fathers from low-income neighborhoods also point to the $50 AFDC passthrough as a disincentive: many of the fathers preferred giving money or material items directly to their children. Furthermore, these men did not understand the child support system. Many of them were under the impression that their entire support payment went to the government and that none actually went to their children (Furstenberg et al., 1992). Those who had wages withheld for support payments were astonished that child support enforcement could work that way. At the extreme, ethnographic work by Anderson (1992b) suggests that withholding wages to cover child support may be a disincentive for working, particularly for a young man who has fathered more than one child outside of marriage. Conversely, a pilot survey of absent parents by Sonenstein and Calhoun (1990) found that withholding wages increased payment levels. The program is costly for U.S. taxpayers. According to calculations reported by the Congressional Research Service (1993b), federal contribu-

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America's Fathers and Public Policy: Report of a Workshop tions to CSE programs totaled $1.2 billion in fiscal 1991, and the states spent an additional $592 million to run CSE programs. However, after the state's share of the collections plus federal contributions to administrative costs and incentives, the states netted $384 million. The federal government, however, spent $588 million more than it took in. Simple subtraction of the states' positive balance from the federal government's negative balance leaves a net cost to U.S. taxpayers of $204 million. Some participants pointed out that the growth in cost in CSE programs was due to non-AFDC cases, for which the state may charge no more than a $25 fee. Establishment of Paternity Before a court order for child support can be issued, the unmarried father must legally acknowledge that he is the father of the child. This can be an important step in a child's well-being as it is also the gateway to other benefits, such as coverage by the father's health insurance. Proof of paternity can now be established relatively easily and accurately by genetic testing, and many local jurisdictions now operate laboratories for performing such tests. Yet, it is estimated that paternity is established in only about one-third of nonmarital births (Wattenberg, 1987). A barrier to paternity establishment is lack of information on what constitutes legal paternity establishment and on what it means. Sullivan (1992) found that many noncustodial fathers wrongly assumed they had established paternity because they were at the hospital when the babies were born and their names were on the birth certificates. Others became more interested in establishing legal paternity when they understood the benefits that could accrue to their children. In the past few years the federal government has put increasing pressure on state governments to strengthen their programs for establishing paternity and obtaining child support. The Family Support Act of 1988 (P.L. 100-485) set a standard for states to establish paternity for 50 percent or more of the AFDC children born outside of marriage by the beginning of fiscal 1992 or (for states that could not reach this level) to increase their rates by 3 percent a year until they attained 50 percent or the mean percentage of all states. The law also required states to use genetic testing to decide contested cases if one of the parties requested it, authorized federal reimbursement of 90 percent of the costs of genetic testing, and required installation of automated data processing and information retrieval systems. In the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 (P.L. 103-66), Congress raised the standard to 75 percent and called for incremental increases of 3 to 6 percent a year until that level is reached. It also required states to make available a civil procedure for voluntary acknowledgement of paternity and to establish hospital-based programs for paternity establishment.

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America's Fathers and Public Policy: Report of a Workshop State performance has been mixed. Paternity establishment rates vary from state to state and from county to county. For example, in 1991, West Virginia reported an 88 percent rate of establishing paternity, with Maryland and Iowa following at 78 percent and 75 percent, respectively. In contrast, the rate for Wisconsin was 7 percent; for New Jersey, 8 percent; and for the District of Columbia, 3 percent. During 1991, paternity was established for 479,066 children, an increase of 22 percent over the previous year and a 78 percent increase over 1987 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1993). The reported percentages include older children as well as infants. With the wide fluctuations in paternity establishment rates, there is a great deal of interest in methods that work. A survey by the Urban Institute (Sonenstein et al., 1993) found that counties that devoted more resources to child support enforcement had better performance. Programmatic practices also made a difference and could somewhat compensate for lower program resources. Paternity rates rose an average of 37 points in counties that first allowed fathers to acknowledge paternity of their free will, then, if the fathers contested the issue, quickly transferred the case to a prosecuting attorney (Sonenstein, 1993). Other program practices that were associated with higher paternity rates were running routine checks on criminal and school records to locate fathers, paying for genetic screening rather than seeking paternal reimbursement, using computerized forms, and maintaining the county child support program in the same agency at state and local levels. One participant reported that some members of Congress would like to put more pressure on unmarried mothers applying for AFDC by refusing them welfare benefits until they identify the fathers of their children, withholding full benefits until paternity is established, and terminating all benefits if the mother gives a false name. Another participant argued that this type of measure would be ineffective as most young women do name the father (Sonenstein et al., 1993); the difficulties often arise in locating them or in their ability to pay, once located. Some research suggests that educating young mothers and fathers about the nature of legally establishing paternity and about its benefits for their children may provide incentives for them to do so (Wattenberg, 1987). Other congressional proposals include requiring a minor mother to live at her parent's home, allowing states to refuse AFDC to families in which paternity has not been established, and allowing states to refuse AFDC to families in which either parent is under 18 years of age. Child Support Assurance The poor record of child support that actually gets paid has led two

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America's Fathers and Public Policy: Report of a Workshop national commissions and some policy makers to propose establishing a child support assurance program. A number of the workshop participants also advocated some form of guaranteed child support benefits. The major components of a child support assurance system are a uniform child support guideline based on a percentage of the noncustodial parent's income, collection of child support through income withholding, and a minimum assured child support benefit. The first two elements of such a system—the percentage standard and income withholding—were implemented in Wisconsin in 1987. The Family Support Act of 1988 makes these two elements part of every state 's child support enforcement system in 1994. The minimum assured child support benefit, under which the federal or a state government would supplement child support payments when necessary to bring them up to the minimum benefit level, has not been tried. The U.S. General Accounting Office (1993) notes that without the minimum assured benefit, a child support assurance system may not meet one of its goals—reduction in child poverty. Garfinkel et al. (1992) modeled the effects of the Wisconsin program under several scenarios. Under a condition of “medium” improvement in the child support awards and collection without a minimum assured benefit, custodial parents would receive a net increase in income regardless of race, although white families benefitted the most. The addition of a $2,000 assured benefit improved all custodial families' incomes even more, with the biggest improvement over the no assured benefit situation in black families. Garfinkel and McLanahan (1986) estimated that if the government could collect 70 percent of the support payments due using the Wisconsin percentage of income guidelines, a minimum assured benefit could be offered that would reduce AFDC caseloads by one-half and reduce poverty among children eligible for support by 40 percent, at no additional cost. In 1992, the House Committee on Ways and Means held hearings on one such proposal, the “Child Support Enforcement and Assurance Act,” by former Representative Thomas Downey (D-NY) and Representative Henry Hyde (R-IL). Among other things, this proposal required the federal government to guarantee a minimum level of income support for children whose parents have support orders but fail to pay. In addition, the federal government would assume responsibility for collecting child support payments, primarily through wage withholding. Eligibility for this program would not be limited to low-income families. The bill was not passed. One workshop participant suggested that what was needed was more than child support assurance. She advocated the idea of a social subsidy for the caretaking function of families through a family wage, saying: “We as a society have to reorient ourselves toward caring for America's children, for all of our children.”

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America's Fathers and Public Policy: Report of a Workshop CUSTODY ISSUES AND FATHERS' RIGHTS Custody laws have changed over the years from a presumption (until the late nineteenth century) in favor of fathers because of their provision of financial support, to a presumption in favor of mothers because of their primary caretaker role, to the current “best interest of the child” laws. During the 1970s, a combination of pressure from women's rights groups seeking legal equality and pressure from fathers ' rights groups complaining of unfair treatment in custody led to the removal of gender preferences in state custody laws (Fineman and Opie, 1987; Fineman, 1989, 1992). In fact, most state statutes today specifically forbid consideration of the parents' gender in custody cases (Fineman and Opie, 1987), with some states even mandating joint legal custody in most cases. Fineman (1988, 1989, 1992) argues that given the reality of economic inequality between men and women, so-called gender neutrality really amounts to devaluing of the nurturing role and favoring the father for economic reasons (Fineman and Opie, 1987:120-121): What may have started out as a system which, focusing on the child 's need for care, gave women a preference solely because they had usually been the child's primary caretaker, is evolving into a system which, by devaluing the content or necessity of such care, gives men more than an equal chance to gain the custody of their children after divorce if they choose to have it, because biologically equal parents are considered as equal in expressive regards. Nonnurturing factors assume importance which often favor men. For example, men are normally in a financially better position to provide for children without the necessity of child support transfers or the costs of starting a new job that burden many women. Weitzman (1985) found that men succeeded in obtaining custody in 63 percent of negotiated cases when they pursued custody. In contrast, Maccoby and Mnookin (1992) found that when mothers and fathers disagreed about physical custody, mothers' preferences were granted twice as often as fathers' preferences. Despite the widespread adoption of gender-neutral laws, physical custody is still awarded primarily to mothers. In a study in Wisconsin, Seltzer (1990) found that mothers were granted physical custody in more than 88 percent of cases. Maccoby and Mnookin (1992) found that mothers had physical custody in 70 percent of the California cases they studied, fathers had physical custody in less than 10 percent of the cases, and joint physical custody was granted in about 20 percent. One participant pointed out that research (Singer and Reynolds, 1988; Maccoby and Mnookin, 1992) is finding a disturbing trend towards the use of joint custody as a compromise in the most conflicted situations. These are the couples least likely to be able to work out a cooperative coparenting relationship (Maccoby and Mnookin,

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America's Fathers and Public Policy: Report of a Workshop 1992). Children who are exposed to continuing parental conflict have been found to suffer adverse consequences, such as depression, deviant behavior, and other symptoms of maladjustment (Buchanan et al., 1991; Johnston et al., 1985). While children may be living with mothers, fathers are being granted joint decision-making powers (legal custody) in many cases. The California study found joint legal custody decisions in 79 percent of cases. Joint legal custody was granted even in 32 percent of cases in which mothers requested sole legal custody and fathers did not contest the request. In the Wisconsin study, joint legal custody was granted in only 20 percent of cases, with the mother receiving legal custody in nearly 75 percent of cases. Interestingly, in the Maccoby and Mnookin (1992) study, a joint legal custody outcome was more likely when attorneys were involved with one or both of the parents than when no attorneys were involved. Another issue, although not discussed in detail at the meeting, concerns custody and visitation rights of never-married fathers. One participant noted that 30 years ago, unwed fathers had few if any rights concerning their offspring: for example, they had no standing to prevent an adoption. Due to statutory changes and several Supreme Court decisions, unmarried fathers today do have more legal rights. While the public perception may be that there is a great deal of legal conflict in the process of establishing child support and child custody decrees, research shows otherwise. More than 50 percent of the cases studied by Maccoby and Mnookin (1992) resulted in uncontested settlements. Only about 4 percent of the cases actually went to trial, and more than 50 percent of those were settled during the trial without the judge having to issue a decree. The amount of conflict according to parents' own ratings was also quite low: only 10 percent of the cases reported very high levels of conflict. Overall, Maccoby and Mnookin concluded that a significant amount of conflict existed in about 25 percent of the divorcing families they studied. Mediation has been one response to settling divorce-related conflict, and some states have passed mandatory divorce mediation laws. The Family Support Act of 1988 set up demonstration programs to ensure fathers' visitation rights, a number of which included mandatory mediation. While the idea of a neutral mediator helping parents learn to communicate and amicably work out their divorce settlement was appealing to many of the workshop participants, several of those most closely involved in family law urged caution in applying mandatory mediation. One participant noted that many complaints are being raised about adverse results of mandatory mediation, especially on abused spouses, and he noted that some states have excluded abused spouses from the mandatory mediation process. However, he stressed: “I am personally convinced that mediation always produces a

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America's Fathers and Public Policy: Report of a Workshop result which is satisfactory to the more dominant partner, because that's the institutional result of a profession committed to resolution and not to the right result.” Another participant raised concerns about the neutrality of mediators: although they may be impartial with respect to fathers and mothers, they have a professional bias in favor of shared parenting, which is clearly evident in the mediation literature. This may be particularly problematic in cases of mandatory mediation, when the mediators are associated with the court. If one parent opposes shared parenting, he or she may be seen as uncooperative by the mediator. These same mediators are in a position to make recommendations to the court about custody in the cases for which mediation fails. Many participants agreed that if mediation is going to be made mandatory, the mediators should not be in a position to make recommendations to the court. In some instances, it was pointed out, mandatory mediation is more pro forma than substantive. When only one or two sessions are required, mediation may become just another hurdle to overcome in the divorce process, adding costs without real benefits. Some participants indicated that mediation has uses beyond divorce and custody. For example, the Parents' Fair Share Demonstration (see box) uses mediation to help unmarried fathers resolve conflicts with the mothers of their children, with the goal of increasing the fathers ' desire to support their children, financially and in other ways (Furstenberg et al., 1992). YOUNG FATHERS Although much public attention has been given to the growing number of births to unmarried women and to teenage pregnancy, it is only recently that attention has focused on teenage and other young fathers. A large part of the workshop was devoted to the discussion of involving young unmarried fathers in their children's lives. Since not all children born to teenage mothers have teenage fathers, much of the discussion included young men in their 20s as well as teenage males. Young men who father children while in their teens are less likely than other absent fathers to provide child support. Pirog-Good (1992) found that, even by age 27, only 30 percent of absent teenage fathers paid child support, compared with 51 percent of those who fathered a child at age 20 or later. In addition, the teenage fathers who provided child support paid less than those who had deferred fatherhood. In a 1992 survey of Child Support Enforcement programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Pirog-Good (1992) found great variety in the treatment of teenage fathers. More than three-quarters of the states attempt to pursue paternity cases regardless of the age of the putative father; 9 states reported deferring paternity establishment in cases where the

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America's Fathers and Public Policy: Report of a Workshop PARENTS' FAIR SHARE The Parents' Fair Share is a pilot program, authorized by the Family Support Act of 1988, with the goal of increasing the ability of noncustodial parents of children on AFDC to pay child support and of increasing child support collections. The Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC) developed the model for Parents' Fair Share through focus group interviews with low-income, noncustodial fathers and with poor mothers, in addition to interviews with professionals, such as family court judges, employment services providers, and researchers. Based on the MDRC research, four key components for the Parents' Fair Share program were identified: (1) occupational training and job search and placement services, emphasizing on-the-job training rather than classroom training; (2) enhanced child support enforcement; (3) mediation services to help mothers and fathers overcome disagreements that interfere with child support compliance; and (4) peer support and parenting instruction. Nine sites—Mobile, Alabama; Jacksonville, Florida; Springfield, Massachusetts; Grand Rapids, Michigan; suburban Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota; Kansas City, Missouri; Trenton, New Jersey; Montgomery and Butler counties, Ohio; and Memphis, Tennessee—were selected to pilot test the Parents' Fair Share model during 1992 and 1993. While each of the nine sites was given a great deal of flexibility in setting up services, they all incorporated the four key components of the model. In addition to the key components, sites were encouraged to recruit noncustodial fathers who had not yet established paternity, as well as those who were not complying with existing child support orders. Sites were also encouraged to establish links between the various agencies to be involved, such as child support, judicial, job training, and welfare. Funding for Parents' Fair Share came from a consortium of federal and state agencies and private foundations. Evaluation of the first two years of the program has been encouraging (Bloom and Sherwood, 1994). About two-thirds of participants referred to the program actually participated in an employment and training or peer support activity. Most of the fathers who did not participate either found work on their own or were referred back to the courts. Prior to referral, more than 90 percent of these noncustodial fathers had not been engaged in employment or training activities. Parents ' Fair Share also helped change the attitudes of many of these men through peer support activities, increasing their desire to be involved with and support their children. MDRC is planning a second phase of the program to examine the longer term effects on participants.

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America's Fathers and Public Policy: Report of a Workshop purported father was considered to be too young (under 18 in some states; under 16 in some states; on a case-by-case basis in some states); only 11 states offer programs for teenage fathers through the CSE offices, mostly educational programs about the rights and responsibilities of fatherhood. A few state CSE offices work directly with teenage fathers. In Tennessee, for example, the Responsible Teen Parent Program refers teenage parents in need of employment to Job Training Partnership Act opportunities; however, success is reported to be minimal (Pirog-Good, 1992). Programs to Increase Involvement A number of programs aimed at encouraging the involvement of young fathers with their children have been developed in recent years, several of which were discussed at the workshop. Some of these programs are aimed primarily at improving the educational, parenting, and job skills of young fathers to allow them to better support and interact with their children. Many participants expressed the opinion that young fathers want to take a more active part in their children' s lives. One participant indicated that evaluations of demonstration projects by Public/Private Ventures and Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation show that “while lots of these young men walk through the door looking for jobs, the thing that keeps them there is the potential to link with their families.” Some programs try to capitalize on the desire for involvement, dealing with individual responsibility and self-improvement rather than job training. The following programs were discussed at the workshop. They are included as examples of the types of programs being tried around the country; none has been subjected to vigorous evaluation. The Teen Alternative Parenting Program Because most teenage fathers are still in school or in low-paying jobs, it may be difficult for them to provide financial support. Some CSE programs are experimenting with in-kind contributions to offset child support. The CSE unit of Marion County, Indiana, set up one such program in 1986, the Teen Alternative Parenting Program (TAPP). TAPP offered young fathers the chance to earn credits against their child support obligations by engaging in regular visitation, parenting classes, schooling, and job training. It was hoped that this program would encourage young fathers to make child support payments in the future by strengthening the bond with their children and enhancing their job preparedness. Evaluation of the first 2 years of the program were somewhat discouraging. Data were collected for the 63 fathers offered the TAPP option and for a matched comparison group of 63 nonparticipants. Only one-half of

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America's Fathers and Public Policy: Report of a Workshop the young men who were offered the option of participating in TAPP did so (Pirog-Good, 1993); the most common way of earning credit was visitation. The percentage of child support paid by TAPP participants (including their in-kind credits) and by the control group was nearly the same. Pirog-Good concluded that it was too early to determine if TAPP will result any long-range improvements in compliance. The program continues with slight modifications under the name “On Track. ” National Institute for Responsible Fatherhood and Family Development In 1982, workshop participant Charles Ballard of the National Institute for Responsible Fatherhood in Cleveland, Ohio, established the Teen Father Program to reach out to young men in inner-city neighborhoods. Using what he described as a nontraditional outreach and counseling approach, which has some similarities to cognitive therapy and to visualization techniques, the program seeks to change the way these young men think about themselves and their environment, to help them “recreate their dreams.” Young fathers are recruited in the places they gather—on the basketball courts, on buses, in clinics, in juvenile court. After 12 years, 85 percent of the participants now are referred by other young men. Services are brought to the homes of the young fathers rather than making them come to the potentially alienating environment of a clinic or office building. The staff, who are called sages, try in some measure to recreate the roles of “old heads” (see above) and to act as role models for the young men. A survey of 78 young men who had participated in the program between 1984 and 1992 (Nixon and King, 1993) found a number of positive outcomes. Before entering the program, 74 percent of the young men were unemployed; at the time of evaluation, 62 percent were employed full-time and 12 percent were employed part-time, in spite of no direct job training or job search component in the program. Only 14 percent of the young fathers had completed high school upon entering the program; by the time they completed the program, 39 percent had finished high school and at follow-up 70 percent had their high school diploma or General Equivalency Diploma. The program also had positive effects on these young men's relationships with their child and the child's mother. By the end of the program, 84 percent had legally admitted paternity, compared with less than 8 percent before the program. Although 97 percent of the young men said the program had influenced them to provide financial support for their children, no data was given on how many actually followed through; 70 percent of the former clients reported providing financial support for three or more people in 1991. Ninety-six percent of the young fathers reported improved relations with their children's mothers as a result of the program.

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America's Fathers and Public Policy: Report of a Workshop These results seem promising in light of the fact that the population served by the National Institute for Responsible Fatherhood is at very high risk of failure on all fronts. Mr. Ballard reported that most of the young men were drug users and in gangs at the time of entry into the program. Young Unwed Fathers Project During 1992 and 1993, Public/Private Ventures, Inc., ran a pilot program in six cities—Cleveland, Philadelphia, St. Petersburg, Racine, Fresno, and Annapolis—offering young unwed fathers job training through programs funded by the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA), education, fatherhood development activities to encourage establishing paternity and regular payment of child support, counseling, and continued service after job placement. The goal of the project was to determine which service delivery approaches best met the needs of this difficult-to-serve population. Evaluation of the program sites after the first year (Watson, 1992) found that recruiting the young men was difficult and resource intensive. By the end of the first year (February 1992) only one site had recruited the target of 50 participants. Agencies or staff with good credibility among the population or a reputation for generating good jobs facilitated recruitment, but developing that credibility takes time. Similar to findings about young fathers in the National Longitudinal Survey of Labor Force Behavior of Youth (see Lerman, 1993), the 228 young fathers enrolled in the first year of the Young Unwed Fathers Project were predominantly African American, had educational deficiencies, and came from poor economic circumstances. Watson (1992) found that these young men want to support and be involved with their children. While only one-third of them had child support orders, nearly one-half of the fathers said they gave some money directly to the mother or person caring for their child. Program staff credit the focus on fatherhood for the project's initial retention rate of 81 percent. Coordinating services and finding jobs for young unwed fathers proved difficult. Very stringent eligibility rules for JTPA programs disqualified many of the young men. Strict enforcement of child support orders caused some young men to leave training programs and take low paying jobs in order to comply. Watson (1992) concluded that the combination of JTPA and CSE regulations and the lack of coordination between public agencies and programs for young fathers and between JTPA and CSE present serious barriers to both enrollment and service delivery. Preventing Teenage Fatherhood Most of the workshop discussion dealt with young men after they had

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America's Fathers and Public Policy: Report of a Workshop become fathers, but some participants pointed out that people also need to be concerned with preventing teenage males from fathering children. Most efforts continue to put the onus of pregnancy prevention on young women. The National Research Council study (1987:4) on adolescent pregnancy recommended focusing more attention on young men: “Our concept of the high-risk population must include boys. Their attitudes, motivations, and behavior are as central to the problems as those of their female partners, and they must also be central to the solutions. ” Yet, it is also important to recognize that many of the fathers of children born to teenage mothers are not teenagers; programs may therefore need to be targeted not just at teenage males. Sonenstein et al. (1992) studied factors associated with pregnancy risk among adolescent males as measured by frequency of unprotected intercourse. They found that the pregnancy risk was higher, particularly for blacks, among adolescents living in areas of high unemployment. Three other factors that were identified as associated with pregnancy risk among adolescent males were (1) having a mother who had been a teenage parent, (2) believing that premarital sex is acceptable behavior, and (3) having an employed mother. Although much remains to be learned about adolescent males' attitudes and behaviors, the factors Sonenstein et al. found to be associated with higher pregnancy risk may help in designing programs for young men. SUMMARY The major foci of the policy discussions at the workshop were on federal-level policy, primarily child support enforcement and the establishment of paternity. There was also discussion of state-level policy of child custody following divorce. As welfare costs increase and governments look for ways to cut spending, observers expect continuing policy emphasis on establishing paternity and child support enforcement programs. As of January 1, 1994, new court-ordered child support payments will be collected through wage withholding for the noncustodial parents of all children, whether or not they are receiving welfare benefits. There is mixed evidence on the effects of mandatory wage withholding, some suggesting that it increases child support collections and some suggesting that it acts as a disincentive to some fathers for employment. The effects of the new federal requirement remain to be seen. Even when child support is paid, the levels of support are very low. Noncustodial fathers contribute only 19 percent, on average, of their children's household income. Furthermore, many awards are not adjusted over time. Participants discussed the benefits of more uniform standards for child support and for minimum assured child support benefits, on one hand, and for

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America's Fathers and Public Policy: Report of a Workshop more flexibility to allow nonmonetary supplements to financial support, on the other. Programs such as Parents' Fair Share that provide job training, peer group counseling, mediation, and on-going support after employment may help increase poor fathers' ability and desire to provide support for their children.