Men who are experiencing financial hardships or problems with employment often encounterdifficulties with becoming responsible fathers (Kotloff, 2005). In the last few decades, the United States has experienced a decline in the availability of employment opportunities for unskilled males, yet few policies or programs are aimed at helping such men support their families (Bronte-Tinkew, Bowie, & Moore, 2007) Edin & Nelson, 2001; Kasarda, 1989; Wilson, 1996). Although all fathers may face difficulties with financial hardship and employment problems, young fathers and nonresident fathers (i.e. fathers wo do not reside with their children) are particularly vulnerable, as they are more likely to have low levels of education and job experience, to be in poor health, to have a history of involvement with the criminal justice system, to earn low hourly wages, and to work fewer hours (The Future of Children, 2004). A lack of employment opportunities is of particular concern because the lack of stable employment and adequate income limits fathers' ability to financially support children, including difficulty making child support payments (Sorenson & Lerman, 1998). Studies show that fathers often want to provide financial support to their children, but lack the means to do so (National Women's Law Center, 2004). While some programs do existto help fathers gain stable employment, increase their incomes, and make child support payments, fewfathers are currently served by such programs (Bronte-Tinkew, Bowie, & Moore, 2007; (Bronte-Tinkew, Burkhauser, Mbwana, Metz, & Collins, 2008; Bronte-Tinkew, Burkhauser, & Metz, 2008) Johnson, Levine, & Doolittle, 1999). The current review examines a number of employment/self-sufficiency programs for fathers that have been evaluated and that can begin to answer the following questions: What practices have been found to be successful in programs aimed at increasing self-sufficiency and employment among low income fathers? What matters? What really works? This review helps to begin answering these questions more definitively.
It is important, however, to note the limitations of this review. Research on "what works" infatherhood programs is still in its earliest stages. To date, few self-sufficiency/employment-basedfatherhood programs have been evaluated and even fewer have undergone rigorous (i.e., experimental)evaluations. Due to limitations such as small sample sizes, lack of comparison groups, inappropriatestatistical analyses, and limited outcome measures, most of the programs included in this review have notbeen rated "model" programs. That said, there is still much to be learned from examining program practicesacross successful programs that have adhered to specific evaluation research criteria as are described here. (Author abstract modified)
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