Community partnerships can help fatherhood programs in many ways. They can increase the range of available services, enhance recruitment and retention efforts, and help fathers gain access to employment and training opportunities. Forming an effective partnership with the local child support agency can be particularly helpful for programs working with noncustodial fathers who are struggling to maintain regular child support payments. This case study describes the development of such a partnership in a rural area of central California (Merced County) and provides an overview of lessons learned.Merced County is a two-hour drive from Sacramento and an hour from Fresno. Agriculture is a large part of the county’s economy. There are also manufacturing employers and a University of California satellite campus. While predominately Hispanic and Caucasian, there is also a substantial Hmong and Mien population. The county is a diverse area that exemplifies typical challenges of rural program implementation, such as no public transportation, seasonal work patterns, unpredictable employment, and few potential organizations for referrals and partnerships.
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