Tossed on a Sea of Change: A Status Update on the Responsible Fatherhood Field.

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Author (Individual)
Klempin, Serena.
Mincy, Ronald B.
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Columbia University. School of Social Work. Center for Research on Fathers, Children and Family Well-Being.
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Thirteen years have passed since the last comprehensive review of the fatherhood field, Map and Track: State Initiatives to Encourage Responsible Fatherhood (Bernard & Knitzer, 1999). In the interim, two recessions, funding cuts, and tight fiscal conditions have made it extremely unlikely that states would fund fatherhood initiatives without federal subsidies. Given diminished opportunities to leverage public funds for responsible fatherhood, organized philanthropy has also reduced funding for responsible fatherhood. Despite these funding constraints, however, the array of fatherhood services offered has been continually evolving. Traditionally focused on child support and employment needs of low-income fathers, responsible fatherhood has increasingly expanded into a variety of other areas including the child welfare system, the criminal justice system, co-parenting among mother-father dyads who do not intend to marry, children's education and literacy, and general fatherhood competency programs applicable for middle-income fathers. Since 1996 welfare reform, the responsible fatherhood field has also been simultaneously aligned with and in competition against the healthy marriage field.In addition to examining the impact of the financial climate on the existence and range of services provided by responsible fatherhood programs, the current survey explores the extent to which programs have responded to increasing funder requests for evidence of program effectiveness. Although the demand for this evidence is increasing, it is not known to what extent or how successfully programs have adopted these measures. We also do not know how programs' success or failure to adopt these measures is affecting their funding opportunities.As a result of changing funding requirements, rapidly evolving program priorities, and increasing demands for evidence-based practice, the field of responsible fatherhood has, in some sense, lost its center of gravity. It has been "tossed on a sea of change." The purpose of this report is to establish where the field has landed. (Author abstract)

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