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CWLA's Research to Practice (R2P) Takes a Snapshot View of Fatherhood

6/13/2002:   The month of June is linked with many exciting events: graduations, the end of the school year, the beginning of summer, weddings, and of course Father's Day! In recognition of this special day, CWLA’s R2P Initiative, which concentrates on identifying well researched programs and practices in public and private agencies that positively affect the lives of children, youth, and families, has focused attention on the issue of fatherhood for this issue of WeR4Kdz.

For many, all is not celebratory. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that over the last four decades there has been a dramatic increase in the number of children growing up in homes without fathers. In 1960, almost 10 million children did not live with their fathers. Today, the number is nearly 25 million. More than one-third of these children will not see their fathers at all during the course of a year.

R2P recently conducted a review of the research literature related to fatherhood. A bibliography developed by R2P will be available at www.cwla.org/programs/r2p later this summer. In the meantime, listed below are a host of national fatherhood website resources, most individually linked to additional sources of information. Please contact r2p@cwla.org if you know of any positive fatherhood programs with an evaluation component.

Research Findings Related to Fatherhood

Studies on fatherhood report many significant findings such as:
  • Fathers contribute to their children’s intellectual development and social competence through physical play.
  • Fathers who are responsible for at least 40% of child-rearing tasks tend to have children that score higher on cognitive development tests.
  • A father’s involvement in his child’s life is an important predictor of higher grades in school for the child.
  • Children, whose fathers play a positive role in their lives, are less likely to come into contact with the juvenile justice system.
  • Low income and poor relationship with the birth mother are two of the greatest barriers to a father’s involvement in his children’s lives.
  • Unemployed fathers are less likely to form families or assume responsibilities.
  • National studies consistently find a link between the socio-economic status of fathers and involvement in their children's lives.
  • Single-parent families headed by the father are rare (3-5%). However, their numbers have increased rapidly over the last twenty years.
  • Some studies indicate contact between non-custodial fathers and their children is associated with fewer behavioral problems and better psychological well-being while conversely, other studies show that non-custodial father contact can have a detrimental affect on their child's behavior. This distinction has led some researchers to conclude that it may not be the frequency of contact that is important to the relationship, rather the quality of time spent together.

[Findings excerpted from: Child Trends Fatherhood Research Briefs, www.childtrends.org and the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Fact Sheet #73, http://www.ojjdp.ncjrs.org/pubs/fact.html]

Fatherhood Website Resources

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has developed a special initiative, Promoting Responsible Fatherhood, to support and strengthen the roles of fathers in families. HHS has made involved, committed, responsible fatherhood a national priority. http://www.fatherhood.hhs.gov

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Child Support and Enforcement (OCSE): OCSE, with input from its State partners, developed the National Electronic Child Support Resource System (NECSRS). NECSRS provides the user with timely and easy access to a wealth of Child Support Enforcement resources available from Federal, State, local, and Tribal CSE organizations. http://www.acf.dhhs.gov/programs/cse

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health (NIH) supports a wide range of research that relates to fatherhood and children's health. http://www.fatherhood.hhs.gov/fi-research.htm

The Center on Fathers, Families, and Public Policy (CFFPP) is a nationally focused public policy organization conducting training, litigation, and public education in order to focus attention on the barriers faced by never-married, low-income fathers and their families. http://www.cffpp.org

Dads & Daughters is a national membership organization whose mission is to strengthen fathers' relationships with their daughters. It offers a variety of resources including an electronic newsletter and DadTalk ListServ. http://www.dadsanddaughters.org

Fatherhood/Family Formation provides linkages to general fatherhood resources and issues. FFF is sponsored by the Welfare Information Network, a Clearinghouse for Information, Policy Analysis, & Technical Assistance on Welfare Reform. http://www.welfareinfo.org/fatherho.asp

Maryland Fatherhood Initiative is Maryland's resource for fatherhood facts and information. Their website, hosted by the Maryland Department of Human Resources, provides valuable resources to benefit fathers and their families, including advice, mentoring, job opportunities, programs, and links. http://www.fatherhoodmd.org

The Fatherhood Project is a national research and evaluation project that is examining the future of fatherhood and developing ways to support men's involvement in child rearing.

Father Matters is a nonprofit organization with the sole purpose of seeing that fathers become the best fathers they can be. Their goal is to commit Dads to encouragement, support, and accountability with other fathers by mentoring through positive actions and examples. http://www.fathermatters.com

The Institute for Responsible Fatherhood and Family Revitalization is a national organization dedicated to empowering and supporting fathers to become actively involved in the lives of their children in a loving, nurturing, compassionate, and secure way. http://www.responsiblefatherhood.org

The National Center for Fathering conducts research on fathers and fathering and develops practical resources to prepare dads for nearly every fathering situation. http://www.fathers.com

The National Center on Fathers and Families (NCOFF) is dedicated to research practice that expands the knowledge base on father involvement and father development, and that informs policy designed to improve the well-being of children. http://www.ncoff.gse.upenn.edu/

National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) was founded to confront the problem of father absence. Its mission is to improve the well-being of children by increasing the proportion of children growing up with involved, responsible, and committed fathers. http://www.fatherhood.org

National Practitioners Network for Fathers and Families, Inc. (NPNFF) is a national individual membership organization whose mission is to build the profession of practitioners working to increase the responsible involvement of fathers in the lives of children. http://www.npnff.org

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