With an emphasis on positive father involvement in the lives of children, the responsible fatherhood field dates to at least the mid-1970s in the United States. At that time, more people were beginning to recognize that father absence had a substantial impact on child well-being. Early efforts sought to support young, primarily low-income men as they struggled with parenting and financial issues. In recent years, the responsible fatherhood field has expanded beyond its roots in employment and parenting services for low-income fathers to recognize the diverse needs of a wide array of fathers. Programs now include elements such as healthy marriage and co-parenting skills training, general fatherhood competency for all income levels, support for fathers involved with the child welfare and criminal justice systems, a focus on children’s education and literacy, awareness of the needs of fathers who have children with special needs, and attention to issues of domestic violence.
The Office of Family Assistance wishes to thank the following individuals and organizations for their contributions to the development of this toolkit: