There has been a growing national emphasis over recent years on increasingfathers' (and particularly, noncustodial fathers') involvement with theirfamilies, an emphasis that focuses on everything from financial supportto emotional nurture. However, it has become apparent that low-incomenoncustodial fathers have been affected very differently by these effortsthan have been wealthier fathers. Many of the recent legislative and policyinitiatives have been directed at augmenting noncustodial fathers' financialsupport of their children. For fathers whose children receive (or havereceived) public assistance, this emphasis is coupled with the belief thatsuch support will reduce the dependence of children and their custodial parentson public assistance. However, recent research shows that a large numberof fathers whose children receive assistance are themselves in need ofassistance. Many of these fathers are poorly educated young men who havefew job skills and few prospects for secure, long-term employment. Manyalso face a variety of other issues that create further instability in their lives(e.g., health issues). Without support, these fathers are unlikely to be ableto effectively replace a system of public assistance and meet the financialneeds of their children. At the same time, they are negatively affected bylaws and policies that are designed to enforce financial support from noncustodialfathers who are able but unwilling to provide such support.
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