The Bush administration has proposed several initiatives to improve child well-being by increasing marriage and father involvement. Research supports the intent of the proposal to create a stable environment for children. This report expands on previous studies to examine differences in family structures by race and age. Data from the 1999 National Survey of America's Families are presented for six categories of family relationships: child's birth parents are married; child's parents are divorced, but the father visits regularly; the child's biological parents have never married, but are cohabitating and living with the child; the child's biological parents have never married, but the non-custodial parent visits regularly; child lives with his or her single mother and has limited contact with the father; and the child lives with the biological father or another adult. The study found that most poor children have regular contact with both parents through joint residency or regular visitation. However, contact decreases over time as parents separate or divorce. Approximately half of poor teenagers live with single mothers and less than two percent reside with their fathers. Residency with both parents is less common for poor black children, who also experience a decrease in contact with their fathers as they get older. Although employment would increase the likelihood of father involvement and financial support, current welfare reform proposals limit funds for job services. 15 references, 3 tables.
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