This issue brief examines the provisions of the Personal Work Responsibility and Work Opportunities Reconciliation Act of 1996 and the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 that apply to fatherhood. The briefing focuses on the initiatives and programs that can be used by states to encourage fathers to be more involved in the lives of their children. The Personal Work Responsibility and Work Opportunities Reconciliation Act (PRA) included goals for increasing child support enforcement, overcoming barriers to employment, decreasing out-of-wedlock births, and developing visitation programs for noncustodial and nonresident parents. Both laws permit states to allocate funds to job training and employment services that will increase the income of families and promote child support payments by noncustodial parents. The PRA outlines a four step process to child support enforcement: establish paternity; obtain child support orders; collect child support; and distribute support to the family. New York and California have implemented child support assurance programs to further help families of working, single-parents. In addition to child support, the PRA can also be used by states to encourage father-child relationships. The welfare reform provisions allow employed parents to live with their families without reducing TANF benefits and provides funds for access and visitation programs for parents who do not live with their families. A matrix illustrates the changes in welfare law and the implications of the fatherhood-related sections of the PRA. 1 table.
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