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Child Well-Being in Pennsylvania and

the Urgent Need for Father Involvement

FULL
COMPREHENSIVE
REPORT
Statewide Symposium Convened on
September 27, 2017, in
Mechanicsburg, PA

Sponsored By:
Allegheny Intermediate Unit, AMACHI Inc., Child
Welfare League of America, Delta Community
Supports, Inc., Fathers Collaborative of Western
Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Chapter of the National
Association of Social Workers, and The Strong
Families Commission, Incorporated

August, 2018
Disclaimer:
The recommendations contained in this Report do not necessarily represent, in total, the opinions and/or consensus of all
participants who attended the September 27, 2017, Symposium on Child Well-Being in Pennsylvania and the Urgent Need
for Father Involvement.

Nor does it represent a complete picture of the myriad of State-administered programs critical to the well-being of children,
fathers, and families.

The Report does, however, reflect the consensus of participants and various Pennsylvania state and local leaders that the role
of fathers in the lives of their children is critical to their emotional, social, educational and economic health.

Furthermore, the Report underscores participant support for implementing a “systems integration approach” (e.g., a statewide
plan) that emphasizes: a) the urgent need for father involvement by removing systemic barriers; and b) adopting policies that
allow for the provision of father-inclusive services throughout the family care network of agencies within the Commonwealth.
Post 2017 Symposium

FULL COMPREHENSIVE REPORT

Child Well-Being in Pennsylvania and the


Urgent Need for Father Involvement:
Proceedings, Observations, Research Findings
and Recommendations

Submitted to:
His Excellency Thomas W. Wolf, Governor of Pennsylvania
The Honorable Members of the General Assembly
The Honorable Chief Justice and Justices of the Supreme Court

Submitted by:
The Reverend Dr. W. Wilson Goode, Sr.
Chair
Symposium Organizing Committee (SOC)

August 2018

Child Well-Being in Pennsylvania and the Urgent Need for Father Involvement:
SUMMARY COMPANION REPORT
Child Well-Being in Pennsylvania and the Urgent Need for Father Involvement:
SUMMARY COMPANION REPORT
Reverend Dr. W. Wilson Goode, Sr.
Dr. W. Wilson Goode, S., is the President and CEO of AMACHI, Incorporated, a nationally acclaimed faith-based program
for mentoring children of incarcerated parents which has served more than 350,000 children in all 50 States. He is also
Chairman and CEO of Self, Incorporated, a nonprofit corporation dedicated to serving more than 600 homeless men and
women. He is a Senior Fellow at the Fox School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Goode became Philadelphia’s first African American Mayor in 1984 and
served two terms. And, he was the first African American member and
Chairman of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. He broke racial
barriers again with his appointment as Managing Director for the City of
Philadelphia.

Dr. Goode is Chairman of the Philadelphia Leadership Foundation. He is a


Board Member and Former Chairman of Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence
Region, and the Free Library of Philadelphia, He is also former Chair of Partners
for Sacred Places and the Cornerstone Christian Academy.

He is a Board Member of America’s Promise, Community in Schools of


Philadelphia, and Eastern University. He is Chairman Emeritus of Leadership
Foundations, and Emeritus Trustee of Southwest Leadership Academy Charter School.

Dr. Goode has earned degrees from Morgan State University (BA), the University of Pennsylvania (MA), Palmer, Theological
Seminary (D. Min.), and fourteen conferred honorary doctorates. He is a member of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity and Kappa
Alpha Psi.

Dr. Goode is an ordained Baptist Minister since 1999 with more than 64 years of service at the First Baptist Church of Paschall
located in southwest Philadelphia

Dr. Goode and his wife of 58 years have one son, two daughters and two granddaughters.

Child Well-Being in Pennsylvania and the Urgent Need for Father Involvement:
SUMMARY COMPANION REPORT
Proceeding Editors
At the conclusion of the Statewide Symposium on “Child Well-Being in Pennsylvania and the Urgent Need for Father
Involvement” held on September 27, 2017, enthusiasm was running high among the 154 symposium participants.

Yet the hard work (post-symposium) and the need for producing a report of the proceedings was to be shouldered primarily
by the following individuals:

Kevin A. Golembiewski, Esquire


Writer and Principal Editor
&
Dr. Rufus Sylvester Lynch, ACSW
Quality Assurance Content Editor
Their work not only consisted of organizing the valuable information emanating from the Symposium but to frame the issues
identified by the workgroup participants (e.g., barriers to and recommendations for father involvement) in a cohesive format.
This effort included a search of the literature and state-of-the art research that further provided context for these issues as
reflected in both the Full Comprehensive Report and, to a more limited extent, the Summary Companion Report.

A special thanks to Kelly Hoffman, Kids Count Director with the Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children and Tim Schock,
Data Analyst with Pennsylvania State Data Center, for compiling county-specific data on children in poverty that has been
included in this report. This information brings the issue of father absence and/or father non-involvement and its
consequences on child and family well-being to Pennsylvanians locally.

Speaking on behalf of the editors, it is our collective hope that this Report will be of use to a wide-range of policy-makers,
service providers, and advocates who recognize the importance of moving the issue of fatherhood to the forefront of state and
local level policy and program priorities.

Ms. Debra Pontisso, MPA


Director of Institutional Advancement
and Editor of Publications

www.thestrongfamiliescommission.com

Child Well-Being in Pennsylvania and the Urgent Need for Father Involvement:
SUMMARY COMPANION REPORT
On Behalf of the Symposium Organizing
Committee, A Message of Appreciation
from:
Anita Kellerman Kulick

President / CEO Educating Communities for Parenting


Chair, Pennsylvania Parent Educators’ Network

Our future rests in the hands of our children. As adults, we are responsible for ensuring they have whatever is necessary to
live productive, fulfilling lives; capable of caring for self and others.

Sadly, for far too long the systems charged with protecting children have fallen short of the goal by ignoring a critical
component - the urgent need for father involvement. Thankfully, that is changing in Pennsylvania.

Recognition and appreciation is given to the Stoneleigh Foundation and Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work
and Social Research (GSSWSR) in that they both believed in the value of the contributions that fathers can make to the well-
being of children.

Although, it has been a long process which started in Philadelphia in 2011 and was formalized in 2014 with the incorporation
of The Strong Families Commission. The Commission, led by Dr. Rufus Sylvester Lynch, ACSW, sought to form a group of
courageous individuals from across the State, committed to changing the culture and guaranteeing fathers are included,
informed, involved and invested in the lives of their children.

That group, the Symposium Organizing Committee (SOC) led the charge for a groundbreaking State-wide Symposium to
shine a spotlight on the issue and to seek solutions. We thank the members for their vision and commitment.

Executive Leadership Planning Team


 Melvin Hubbard El, District Office, Chief of Staff, Office of State Representative Edward C. Gainey
 Reverend Dr. W. Wilson Goode, Sr., President, AMACHI, Inc., Chair of the Symposium Executive Planning Committee
 Mr. Larry L. Klinger, Jr., Chair Fathers Collaborative Council of Western Pennsylvania
 Dr. Catherine Lobaugh, Allegheny Intermediate Unit, Assistant Executive Director for Early Childhood, Family and
Community Services, Symposium Co-Chair from the West
 Dr. Rufus Sylvester Lynch, ACSW, Chair, The Strong Families Commission, Incorporated
 Reizdan Butel Moore, Esquire, Commission Legal Counsel
 Mr. David A. Wyher, President/CEO, Delta Community Supports, Inc., Symposium Co-Chair from the East
National Anchor Partner
 Ms. Christine Lea James Brown, President/CEO, Child Welfare League of America

The Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) joined with the Commission in 2011 becoming a national anchor partner.
By providing support whenever needed, the CWLA helped to move the Symposium from concept to reality. We thank
the CWLA for its counsel, creativity, and hard work.

Child Well-Being in Pennsylvania and the Urgent Need for Father Involvement:
SUMMARY COMPANION REPORT
Pennsylvania Legislative Sponsors
 The Honorable Anthony Hardy Williams, State Senator 8th District (D), Philadelphia, Chair
 The Honorable Patrick M. Browne, State Senator 16th District (R), Lehigh County
 The Honorable Edward C. Gainey, State Representative 24th Legislative District (D), Pittsburgh
 The Honorable Harold A. English, State Representative 30th Legislative District (R), Allegheny County

Without those who make the laws, we cannot bring about lasting change. We are extremely grateful to the following
from across the State and across the aisle who have come together in support of the well-being of Pennsylvania’s children,
fathers, and families.

Speakers and Panel Presenters


 William J. Clark, Co-Founder, Child World America
 The Honorable Eugene DePasquale, Auditor General of Pennsylvania
 Ms. Kelly M. Hoffman, Pennsylvania Partnership for Children
 Ms. Carrie Jasper, Director, Outreach to Parents and Families, U.S. Department of Education
 Dr. David J. Pate, Jr., Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Helen Bader School of Social
Welfare
 Dr. Janet Eisenberg Shapiro, Dean, Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, Bryn Mawr College

We are deeply appreciative to the renowned speakers and presenters who travelled from throughout the State and the
Nation to share their knowledge, research, expertise and passion to inform about and advance the movement for the
inclusion of fathers in all aspects of their children’s lives.

Roundtable Discussion Leaders


 Ms. Malkia Singleton Ofori-Agyekum, Pennsylvania Program Director for the Parent-Child Home Program,
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
 Ms. Nicole Anderson, Director for Education for Children & Youth Experiencing Homelessness, Homestead,
Pennsylvania
 Mr. John M. Burwell, Child Development Specialist, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, Braddock,
Pennsylvania
 Ms. Jeanette Casciato, MSW/LSW, Supervisor for Allegheny Intermediate Unit’s Head Start Programs, Homestead,
Pennsylvania
 Dr. William Champagne, Male Support Service Coordinator, Philadelphia Dept. of Public Health, Healthy Start,
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
 Mr. Jason Cosley, MSW, Director, Workforce Development, Impact Services Corporation, Philadelphia, PA
 Ms. Brenda Shelton-Dunston, MPH, Executive Director, Black Women’s Health Alliance,
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
 Ms. Robin Evans, National Consultant, Transdisciplinary Children & Youth Mental Health Specialist, Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania
 Mr. David R. Fair, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Turning Points for Children, a PHMC affiliate, Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania
 Mr. George Fleming, Behavior Health Team Leader, Allegheny Family Network, Homestead, Pennsylvania
 Mr. Jerry D. Harvey, Fatherhood Engagement Supervisor, Allegheny County Children, Youth & Families, Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania
 Ms. KayLynn Hamilton, Workforce Education Liaison, Institute for the Study of Adult Literacy, Penn State College of
Education, University Park, Pennsylvania

Child Well-Being in Pennsylvania and the Urgent Need for Father Involvement:
SUMMARY COMPANION REPORT
 Ms. Kerry Krieger, MSW, Director of Family Services at Delta Community Supports, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
 Ms. Anita Kulick, President /CEO, Educating Communities for Parenting, & Chair, Pennsylvania Parent Educators’
Network, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
 Ms. Jacquelyn Mitchell, JD, L.I.C.S.W., Co-Founding Editor, Journal of Forensic Social Work, Atlanta, Georgia
 Mr. George D. Mosee, Jr., Esquire, Executive Director, Philadelphia Anti-Drug/Anti Violence Network, Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania
 Ms. Barbara J. Chavous-Pennock, MSW, Founder & CEO, Somerset Academy Learning Center, Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania
 Ms. Debra Pontisso, MPA, Co-Chair, National Responsible Fatherhood Roundtable, Falls Church, Virginia
 Dr. Richard Jeffrey Rhodes, Assistant Superintendent, The School District of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
 Dr. H. Jean Wright II, Director, Behavioral Health and Justice Related Services at the PA Department of Behavior
Health and Intellectual disAbility Services, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

We thank these individuals, organizations, institutions, and governmental bodies for their time, energy, and commitment
to improving outcomes for all children, fathers, and families in Pennsylvania.

Volunteer Staff
Last but not least we thank The Strong Families Commission, Incorporated Volunteer Staff for their continued devotion
to the work of the Commission and would like to acknowledge them in this report as follows:

 Verita Amelia Barnette Lynch, Coordinator of Volunteers:


Cathy Blackwell, Co-Chair of Registration
Nadine Blackwell, Program Assistant
Ver’non D. Brown, Director of Field Operations
Sekou McLean, Assistant Field Operations Director
Elyse Diane Spearman, Co-Chair of Registration
Carmina A. Taylor, Program Coordinator

Child Well-Being in Pennsylvania and the Urgent Need for Father Involvement:
SUMMARY COMPANION REPORT
Table of Contents
I. Executive Summary ...................................................................................................................... 1-10
A. Introduction

B. Summary of Systems Recommendations and Workgroup Discussions

C. The Launch of the 2018 Campaign for Brighter Futures for Our Children Through Greater Father
Involvement (October 17-18, 2018)

II. Historic Background Leading-up to the Symposium .................................................. 11-13

III. Purpose of the Symposium ....................................................................................................... 14-16

IV. Making the Case: A Review of the Literature ……………………………………………………………..17-33

A. Parenting Our Children: In the Best Interest of the Nation


B. Searching for Greater Father Involvement
C. Fathers Matter as It Relates to the Well-Being of Children
D. Adverse Consequences of Father Absence and Non-Involvement
E. Benefits of Involved Fathers, Yet Father-Child Barriers Still Seem to Exist
F. Commonly Cited Barriers to Father Involvement
G. Children and Family Services within Pennsylvania

V. Delegates Speak Regarding 10 of Pennsylvania’s Service Delivery Systems’


“Welcoming of Fathers Contributions as assets to the well-being of children and
families” ……………………………………………………………………………………………….34-76

A. Administration of Justice/Public Safety


B. Behavioral Health
C. Child Support Services and Enforcement
D. Dependent, Delinquent and Crossover Children and Youth
E. Early Childhood Development
F. Education
G. Employment and Training
H. Housing, Supervised Independent Living, and Homelessness
I. Parent Education and Support Services
J. Public Health

K. Issues Across Systems


L. Conclusion: What Does This All Mean?

VI. Summary Recommendations……………………………………………………………………77-80

A. Administration of Justice/Public Safety


B. Behavioral Health
C. Child Support Services and Enforcement
D. Dependent, Delinquent and Crossover Children and Youth
E. Early Childhood Development
F. Education
G. Employment and Training
H. Housing, Supervised Independent Living, and Homelessness
I. Parent Education and Support Services
J. Public Health

VII. Continuing the Work: Next Steps…………………………………………………81-83

A. The Three Branches of Pennsylvania State Government:


The Importance of Taking Leadership
B. An Appeal to the Symposium Organizing Planning Committee and Others
C. The Launch of the 2018 Campaign for Brighter Futures for
Our Children … through Father Involvement (Scheduled!)

APPENDIX – APPENDICES…………………………………………………………84-100
A. Number and Percentage of PA Children Under 18 Years in Families with
Incomes Below 100 Percent of Poverty Level by County and Family Type

B. A Systems Approach to Increasing Father Involvement

C. State-Wide Fatherhood Symposium: Meeting Overview


1. Agenda
2. Roundtable Discussion Work Groups

D. Understanding the Need in PA: A Statistical Snap-Shot


1. Family Formation Indicators vis-à-vis Father Absence
2. Children Living in Poverty by Family Type
3. Pennsylvania’s National Child Well-Being Ranking
4. Systems of Care in PA and the Need for Father-Inclusive Services

E. The Collective Impact Approach to Achieve Social Change


F. Organizational Contributors to the Symposium
I. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
A. INTRODUCTION
Research shows that father involvement is associated with greater child well-being. Just like mothers, fathers have a lot to
offer. They are role models, caretakers, providers, and advocates. When a child has the benefit of access to both mother and
father, s/he is more likely to exhibit healthy behaviors, excel in school, and achieve emotional well-being.

Nationwide, approximately 24 million or 35% of the nation’s children are being raised in single-parent households often
without access to their fathers and/or their emotional and financial support.

In Pennsylvania, nearly 900,000 or 34% of the state’s children are currently residing in single-parent homes. In Philadelphia,
alone, 60% of the city’s children live in single-parent households, with over 50% living in mother-only households and nearly
10% living in father-only households. According to data collected by the Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, an
estimated 315,270 or 46% of children in single,
female-headed households are living below the
100% poverty level.
The conditions of poverty have lifelong negative impacts on
children’s development in all domains—physical, social- Father involvement in Pennsylvania could and
emotional, cognitive, and linguistic. This should be of should be much greater.
concern to all, since the economic health of our youngest
citizens will greatly influence population health and the Therefore, in 2017, The Strong Families
Commission, Incorporated (THE COMMISSION)
capabilities of our future workforce.
in partnership with several other prominent
Source: Knudsen, E. I., Heckman, J. J., Cameron, J. L., & community organizations across Pennsylvania,
Shonkoff, J. P. (2006). Economic, neurobiological, and held a symposium—the Inaugural Symposium on
behavioral perspectives on building America’s future workforce. Child Well-Being in Pennsylvania and the Urgent
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 103(27), Need for Father Involvement—to examine the
10155-10162 barriers to greater father involvement in
Pennsylvania. Stakeholders from across the state
attended the Symposium, including stakeholders from many of Pennsylvania’s social service systems.

This Report stems from the Symposium’s discussion groups, an analysis of the current social science research on father
involvement and child well-being, and observations shared by over 150 delegates attending the Symposium.

The Report begins by providing background on the Symposium and the circumstances that led to a broad coalition of
stakeholders coming together to generate interest in achieving greater involvement in Pennsylvania. The Report then
discusses the state of father involvement and child well-being nationally and outlines the benefits for children of involved
fathers.

Next, the Report analyzes the role of ten different Pennsylvania child and family service systems as they relate to father
involvement, while identifying the barriers that impede father involvement within these systems. The Report addresses system
topics such as the Administration of Justice and Public Safety; Behavioral Health; Child Support Services and Enforcement;
Dependent, Delinquent, and Crossover Children and Youth; Early Childhood Development; Education; Employment and
Training; Housing, Supervised Independent Living, and Homelessness; Parent Education Support Services; and Public
Health. Analyzing these systems, the Report concludes that each system has barriers within it that impede greater father
involvement. Considering these various barriers, the Report also identifies those that seem to exist across systems. The
barriers across systems include: (1) systems operate in silos; (2) biases about fathers; (3) lack of training about fathers; and
(4) failure to prioritize father involvement.

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Child Well-Being in Pennsylvania and the Urgent Need for Father Involvement:
FULL COMPREHENSIVE REPORT
Various attitudes, policy and procedural impediments exist to the successful recognition of the importance of fathers to the
proper development of their children. The key to the successful implementation of strategies requires effective endorsement
by the three branches of government.

In that regard:

 The General Assembly is encouraged to consider adoption of a Concurrent


Resolution agreeing that prospective legislation regarding children and
families will recognize, foster and promote the value of fathers' contribution to
the well-being of their children;

 The Governor is urged to issue an Executive Order that directs all


Commonwealth departments and agencies to acknowledge the value of fathers
and to be inclusive of fathers in the development and administration of children
and family programs; and

 The Supreme Court is requested to promulgate rules and procedures for the
unified judicial system to ensure that fathers' rights receive equal
consideration and review in determining the best interests of the child and
family.

The Report concludes with recommendations designed to address the barriers to father involvement in Pennsylvania. The
recommendations are based not only on insights gleaned from the Symposium but also research into social science studies
and best practices.
[Cite your source here.]

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Child Well-Being in Pennsylvania and the Urgent Need for Father Involvement:
FULL COMPREHENSIVE REPORT
B. SUMMARY OF SYSTEMS RECOMMENDATIONS AND
WORKGROUP DISCUSSIONS.

Barriers to Father Summary


Involvement by Systems Recommendations

Administration of Justice and Public Safety Recommendations:


 Countless fathers face stigma because of The three branches of government are encouraged respectively to
their interactions with the justice system. factor fatherhood into state legislation, judicial rules and
procedures, and department regulations.
 Fathers do not always understand their
“rights and responsibilities” as it relates to  Prospectively, when legislators draft criminal laws, they
the support of their children. should consider the following:
 The criminal justice and child support o effects of punishment on offenders’ children, as
systems focus too much on punishing and well as the offenders’ ability to serve prospectively,
too little on rehabilitating. as an effective parent;
Returning citizens lack guidance and awareness of o state government agencies should consider fathers’
available resources, if such exist. potential contributions when forming regulations
regarding safety, permanency, well-being and
reunification; and
o Justices of the Supreme Court should similarly
consider fatherhood when issuing rules and
procedures in criminal cases.

Behavioral Health Recommendations:


 Behavioral health policy makers typically The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services is encouraged to
do not prioritize father involvement, and consider a Paradigm shift that recognizes the importance of fathers
their professional staff often lack training in behavioral health treatment and services.
on how to engage fathers.  Behavioral health systems should recognize and integrate
into their service delivery models the overwhelming
 Fathers struggle with stigma when pursuing
evidence that responsible and involved fathering starting
behavioral health services that can
from the prenatal period and into adolescence has positive
negatively impact father-child relationship.
effects on the well-being of children.

 To achieve this paradigm shift, behavioral health


organizations should launch a public campaign showcasing
the immeasurable value of a father in a child’s life. Further,
behavioral health organizations should hold annual trainings
on the importance of father involvement. This will not only
signal to staff that father involvement is a priority but also
afford staff the tools necessary to facilitate father
engagement as an inclusive strategy.

Child Support Services and Enforcement Recommendations:

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Child Well-Being in Pennsylvania and the Urgent Need for Father Involvement:
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 The child support system does not adequately The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, Bureau of Child
take in to account the circumstances of many Support Enforcement is urged to adopt the following
noncustodial parents, e.g. ability to pay. recommendations:
Improve better data collection and exchange about father income.
 Child support enforcement penalties are
 Child support courts and the child support enforcement
counterproductive.
program should work on resolving the lack of a sufficient
data exchange that can result in the unnecessary
 Fathers lack necessary information about their
incarceration of fathers for alleged non-payment of child
procedural rights.
support orders.
 Child support does not recognize or help with Reform policies impacting a father’s credit report.
the parenting time needs of fathers.  Reassess current policies that adversely impacts a father’s
credit report in those cases where he may be paying part but
not the full amount owed.
Expand outreach regarding the implementation of new federal
child support program regulations.
 The Pennsylvania Child Support Agency should consider
expanding their outreach or, “roll-out” strategy that includes
targeting organizations directly serving fathers on how it will
implement the new and improved changes in federal child
support regulations.
Training for community-based organizations.
 The Pennsylvania Child Support Agency should be
encouraged to conduct training for community-based, father-
and family-support organizations on child support issues and
to schedule on-site meetings with non-residential parents
who have issues regarding their individual cases.
Designate contact persons to facilitate coordination.
 In order to institutionalize interagency program coordination
at the local level, the Pennsylvania Child Support Agency
should consider designating a contact person in each county
office of child support that community-based fatherhood and
family support organizations could contact when dealing
with clients who have child support issues.

Recommendations (continued):
Adopt family-centered program initiatives.
 The Pennsylvania Child Support Agency should be
encouraged to adopt some or all of the “Family-Centered”
program initiatives outlined by the federal Office of Child
Support Enforcement. This could be achieved by partnering
with existing community-based organizations serving
fathers, families and children.
Utilize Federal Child Access and Visitation (AV) Grant Funds.
 Since the Pennsylvania State Child Support Agency
administers the Federal AV Grant Program, it should utilize
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Child Well-Being in Pennsylvania and the Urgent Need for Father Involvement:
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these funds to provide services to fathers in the child support
caseload that have parenting time& child access issues.

Dependent, Delinquent, and Crossover Children Recommendations:


and Youth
The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services should
 Biases toward men, as well as fathers, among intentionally ensure that gender equity is a priority and is up-held in
professionals. both the work and service delivery environment to families served.
 Negative perception of fathers amongst Prioritize gender equity
mothers can influence service professionals.
 Both mothers and fathers should be incorporated into child
 Failure to prioritize family finding. welfare family services; the system should strive for equity
and full parental involvement, thus removing gender inequity
 Heavy caseloads.
as a barrier.

Proper resource allocation


 The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services should
identify the necessary resources to improve its next federal
Child and Family Service Review (CFSR), as none of the
seven CFSR Outcomes were found to be in substantial
conformity with the federal regulations. In addition, only
five of the seven systemic factors were found to be in
conformity. Going forward a corrective action strategy
should be developed and implemented to ensure that
Pennsylvania meets all of the CFSR “Outcomes and
Systemic Factors.”

Early Childhood Development Recommendations:


 Fathers do not feel welcome. The Pennsylvania Department of Education policies should be
explicit in supporting the involvement of fathers in services to
 Early childhood education providers do not
children and families.
typically engage fathers
 Prioritize making fathers feel welcome. The early childhood
education sector should do all that it can do to welcome
fathers in early childhood education centers and other
educational environments so that fathers can seamlessly
begin to navigate this system with their children and form
solid working relationships with their teachers and staff.
 The State should mandate that early childhood education
agencies receive technical assistance to determine their
preparedness for Father Involvement.

 More specific, early childhood education centers should have


one person designated to develop projects and initiatives
geared towards welcoming fathers and providing fathers
information on how to navigate the centers. In cases where a
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Child Well-Being in Pennsylvania and the Urgent Need for Father Involvement:
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center is unable to meet the expectation of providing a
designed person to ensure that the environment is always
welcoming to fathers, the state has a duty to provide
reasonable support to fulfill this mandate

Education Recommendations:
 School staff lack training and understanding The Pennsylvania Department of Education should implement
necessary to engage fathers. state-wide Family Engagement Strategies that are inclusive of
fathers.
 Parents deterred from involvement by
 Encourage Counties to implement District-wide family
information asymmetry.
engagement strategies that are inclusive of fathers.
Considering the research showing that parental involvement
 Parental relationships can impede father
in education has substantial benefits for child outcomes,
involvement.
combatting the barrier of parental disconnect through
extended family engagement strategies that are inclusive of
fathers should be a priority for the Pennsylvania Department
of Education, as well as the 500 school districts within the
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Employment and Training Recommendations:


 Blue-collar jobs often do not support Pass House Bill 1419
parental involvement. (Signed into Law by Governor Wolf on June 28, 2018)
 Support Pennsylvania House Bill 1419 (Clean Slate), a bill
 Occupational Licensing and Certification
that provides for automatically sealing certain criminal
for those who have been incarcerated.
records so that they are not available to the public but can
 Humiliation of working Fathers who still be accessed by law enforcement. This legislation is
prioritize their time with their children over supported by a broad bipartisan coalition of legislators and
producing Family Income. organizations.
 Lack of intentional focus on father-child- Although this legislation has now passed and has been signed by the
family relations in employment and training Governor, the legislature should provide guidance to stakeholders,
programs. the general public and employers regarding the significance of this
landmark legislation.

These communications should include timeframes of


implementation, limitations and/or exceptions to this law relative to
federal and national background checks, included and excluded
offenses, but most importantly the benefits to the public, employers
and housing entities.

Housing, Supervised Independent Living, and Recommendations:


Homelessness

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Child Well-Being in Pennsylvania and the Urgent Need for Father Involvement:
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 Homelessness programs do not prioritize The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services should
father involvement. incorporate a Two-Generation Approach to child well-being across
the Commonwealth.
 Supervised independent living programs do
not pursue father involvement.  Pennsylvania should Support a Two-Generation Approach to
child well-being, if it is not already doing so, by Developing
 Staff struggle with biases about fathers.
and Strengthening Partnerships across Early Childhood and
Housing Programs and Systems.

 A two-generation approach aims to break the cycle of


intergenerational poverty by addressing the needs of both
children and parents. This requires aligning and coordinating
the design and delivery of services for the whole family, so
both generations can experience improved physical and
mental health, safety, educational, and economic outcomes.

Parent Education and Support Services Recommendations:


The appropriate program oversight parties should be encouraged to
 Lack of institutional focus on strengthening provide necessary resources to establish parent education
bonds between fathers and children. programming that is specifically inclusive of fathers.

 Difficult to engage fathers and find times to  Engaging fathers can be difficult for a number of reasons, i.e.
convene parenting classes. conflict in work schedules, child care not defined as their role,
or father is non-custodial and is not in a healthy working
 Discriminatory bias practices, procedures relationship with the child’s mother or care provider.
and protocols within the system
 Consequently, parenting education and support service
providers find it difficult to coordinate meeting times and
classes with fathers. This, of course, is a barrier that can be
overcome if providers were given adequate financial
resources for engaging fathers, and training for staff as to
how best to engage them

Public Health Recommendations:


 Failing to view father involvement as a The Pennsylvania Department of Health should adopt father
systemic issue. absence and noninvolvement as a public health issue and raise
awareness throughout the Commonwealth of its importance to the
 Insufficient educational initiatives about the
detriments of father disengagement. children and families, as well as the community at-large.

 Education about the detriments of lack of father absence and


non-involvement must be disseminated aggressively.
Similar to the way that cigarette smoking was causally
connected to lung cancer and chronic bronchitis, the lack of
father involvement can be causally connected to problems
that impact society on multiple levels and can take a
tremendous toll on families and communities.

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 Pennsylvania must move to identify father absence and
father non-involvement as a public health issue worthy of
research, prevention, public education, and policy change.
 A first, concrete step that public health organizations in
Pennsylvania can take is to create pages on their websites
devoted to father involvement including a discussion
regarding the social consequences of father absence as a
public health issue.

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A. C. The Launch of the 2018 Campaign for Brighter Futures for Our Children
Through Greater Father Involvement (October 17-18, 2018)
B.
After a successful and historic bipartisan and bicameral Legislative sponsored symposium, as acclaimed by all, verbally
and in writing, the Organizing Committee was faced with identifying the next steps beyond just writing a Proceedings
document.

In that regard, it was determined that the work of the 2017 Inaugural Symposium on Child Well-Being in Pennsylvania
and the Urgent Need for Father Involvement must continue toward building a larger network of father, child and family
advocates for the purpose of: “bringing to light something that has been in the dark, far too long, . . . that is the
Absence or non-involvement of too many Fathers in the Care of their Children and Families and to shine a spotlight
on the consequences of that absence.”

Notwithstanding the above heartfelt purpose that brought the Organizing Committee together in the first instance, the
Committee also affirmed as its overarching goal, the encouragement of Commonwealth investment in every child’s
developmental growth, and the elimination of all systemic barriers that impede every father’s desire to contribute more
to his child’s well-being.

Given the reality of father, child and family advocates who operate in silos, the Organizing Committee added as a goal
for its 2018 gathering, a convening of such advocates to highlight the urgent need for greater paternal participation within
the lives of children and families.

Therefore, the Committee has moved forward with the scheduling of a follow-up
statewide conference entitled “Pennsylvania 2018 Campaign for Brighter Futures for
Our Children…Through Greater Father Involvement” scheduled for October 17-18,
2018. It will be held at the University of Pittsburgh’s Child Welfare Resource Center
in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.

(For additional information, refer to the flyer on page 10; to register for the
conference go to: www.soc18.org )

The Committee sees a convening of such a group as an opportunity for stakeholders


across the Commonwealth to work collaboratively to strategize and identify ways for all interested parties to be more
supportive of the role that fathers play in the care of their children.

It is anticipated that Convening Participants would depart with a willingness to serve as catalysts raising the
consciousness of government, philanthropic, corporate, community, civic, and public/private business leaders from
around the state to bring about civic action to transform attitudes and behaviors of Pennsylvanians, regarding the worth
of Fathers and their contributions to the well-being of Pennsylvania’s children, youth and families.

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II. HISTORIC BACKGROUND LEADING-UP TO THE
SYMPOSIUM
In 2011, long before the 2017 Symposium on “Child Well-Being in Pennsylvania and the Urgent Need for Father
Involvement,” and the formation of The Strong Families Commission, Incorporated (THE COMMISSION), a small group of
child and family stakeholders were convened in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by David J. Lett, former Regional Administrator
for Children and Families, Region III, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to consider how an increase in Father
Involvement might add positive benefits to the lives of Philadelphia’s children, improving their safety, permanency and well-
being.

Within months of organizing, the small group of


stakeholders began to expand its membership and
collaborate to make the case that essential dialogue
concerning the value of Fathers’ contributions to the
well-being of children and families was needed, by
and among Philadelphia’s Children and Youth (CY)
and Family-Focused Agencies (FFAs). This group was
named the Philadelphia Strong Families Coalition
(PSFC).

Over the next few years, the work of PSFC advanced


as members, including a Senior Fellow at the
Stoneleigh Foundation, conducted research and
literature reviews examining the nature of Father
Inclusion in various social service systems of care, and its impact on children.

An alliance between PSFC and the Senior Fellow at the Stoneleigh Foundation, with his project to explore the integration of
Responsible Fatherhood within Foster Care Service Delivery and Other Children and Youth Servicing Systems, created an
opportunity to champion the conversation and build an awareness of the value of Responsible Fatherhood programming
within CY & FFAs.

Ongoing collaboration focused on CY & FFAs’ self-assessment of their philosophies, policies, practices, procedures and
protocols that either enhance or limit the role of Fathers in the configuration of care to children and families.

The guiding purpose of the work was to examine how public discourse, training, and individual agency consultation could
influence the consequences for dependent, delinquent and crossover children and youth in a positive way. The impact was
viewed as especially important for children who currently are – or are at risk of becoming – involved in multiple systems of
care because their basic human needs are unmet.

PSFC pursued its long-term vision by engaging opinion leaders and practitioners who are committed to
developing innovative policies, practices, and protocols that support the involvement of Fathers in the
care of their children. Important milestones for the Coalition included producing the comprehensive
2014 report “Child Well-Being in Philadelphia, Profiles of Children, and Families & Fathers,” a
publication that offered a menu of strategies designed to dissolve the systemic barriers that limit Fathers’
participation in their children’s lives. Among its other findings, the report recommended that the City
of Philadelphia endorse an independent city-wide advocacy alliance as a public repository for

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information, data, and resources that contribute to building healthy families. The goal of that effort is to guide public agencies
toward embracing the notion that each child is entitled to a Father-child relationship.

In October 2014, three (3) members of PSFC incorporated The Strong Families Commission Incorporated (THE
COMMISSION) as a Pennsylvania non-profit charitable organization to fulfill the recommendation of the report. Since that
time, THE COMISSION has been recognized by the federal government as a private, non-profit I.R.S. Section 501(c) (3)
registered charitable organization in Philadelphia that is dedicated to serving Fathers with children by partnering with
children, youth, and family-focused systems of care that are willing to include Fathers in their service delivery models to
improve the emotional, social, physical, intellectual, spiritual, and financial well-being of the children they serve.

In its new capacity as an independent non-profit, THE COMMISSION assumed the


role of the sustaining entity for championing the work of the Stoneleigh Foundation
Senior Fellow Father Integration Project, with its ten (10) goals, anticipated
outcomes, evaluative strategies, and performance measures. Key among the project
goals (Goal #5) was the pathway to the vision for the 2017 Symposium on Child
Well-Being in Pennsylvania and the Urgent Need for Father Involvement. Project
Goal #5 called for a trans-disciplinary interface between the Father-Engagement-
Community and Children, Youth & Family Servicing Systems of Care for the
purpose of improving outcomes for children and youth and ensuring that every
Father within the Commonwealth is able to access said systems of care; unless
doing so would be harmful to the child’s well-being.

In Philadelphia, THE COMMISSION is the principal organization that advocates for the inclusion of Fathers in the lives of
children and families and the systems that serve them. THE COMMISSION early on was credited with advocating Father
Integration as a concept for transforming agencies into Father Friendly service providers, mainly in the Philadelphia area.
This approach made sense during the first stages of the work of the Commission, as Philadelphia served as a fertile setting
for the project’s launch because it is home to a critical mass of providers and opinion leaders who are aware of the potential
value of Father Involvement. While the Commission made great progress in advancing dialogue and social service practices
that promote Father Inclusion, within the City of Philadelphia and portions of Southeastern Pennsylvania, it soon recognized
that the potential improvements in child welfare service delivery was limited by statewide policies and procedures that
unintentionally negated the value of inclusion of Fathers in service delivery to ensure the well-being of their children.

In that regard, members of THE COMMISSION felt it was essential to maintain a forward momentum of its work outside of
metropolitan Philadelphia, uniting first with the Fathers’ Collaborative Council of Western Pennsylvania (FCCWPA).
Together, THE COMMISSION and FCCWPA, supported by the Allegheny Intermediate Unit (AIU), and in partnership with
the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW-PA), AMACHI, Inc., Delta Community
Services, Inc., and the Child Welfare League of America, planned the 2017 Symposium on “Child Well-Being in
Pennsylvania and the Urgent Need for Father Involvement” began.

Research shows that father involvement is associated with greater child well-being. Just like mothers, fathers have a lot to
offer. They are role models, caretakers, providers, and advocates. When a child has the benefit of access to both mother and
father, s/he is more likely to exhibit healthy behaviors, excel in school, and achieve emotional well-being.

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III. PURPOSE OF THE SYMPOSIUM

The issue of Father Absence and Non-involvement has, in the past, received cyclical attention that rarely resulted in public
policies to extend its positive impact. While there has been a great deal of fatherhood research and activity at the national
level, there are currently no federal funding requirements tied to recommendations around Father Inclusion. As a result, one
could conclude that the welfare of vulnerable children in Pennsylvania could continue to lag in areas where Fathers could be
making a positive impact.

For example, research from the American Academy of Pediatrics has demonstrated that children in families strengthened by
positive Father Involvement show higher levels of academic achievement, emotional wellbeing and behavioral adjustment.
Recent national longitudinal studies have shown that Father Involvement is associated with a decrease in the likelihood of
adolescent risk behaviors (particularly among boys) and predicts less adolescent depressive symptoms for both genders.

In the absence of Pennsylvania Policies that promote Father Involvement and Sustainability in the life of their children over
time, too many children will likely not have full parental support to achieve economic stability and wealth acquisition, thus
are unlikely to be able to maintain themselves and enhance their family’s well-being.

Too many children across the country, including far too many in the Commonwealth, lack the benefit of both parents. In most
cases this reflects the absence or non-involvement of a Father. For example, in Philadelphia 60% of the Children live in
single-parent households, with 50% living in Mother-only households and around 10% living in Father-only households.

This is particularly troubling because research suggests that a Father’s absence or non-involvement can have a negative
impact on child well-being from birth forward, including economic deprivation, higher odds of incarceration, twice the odds
of becoming a high school dropout, higher odds of smoking, drinking and using drugs, and higher risk of physical, emotional
or economic neglect (Yogman, Garfield).

Pennsylvania ranked 27th nationally in a 2016 America’s Health Ranking (AHR) on Women
and Children Report, with 647,200 or 24% of its child population having experienced frequent
socioeconomic hardship, e.g., parental divorce or separation, parental death, parental
incarceration, family violence, neighborhood violence, living with someone who was mentally
ill or suicidal, or living with someone who had a substance abuse problem or racial bias.

Many researchers believe that adverse experiences in early childhood (i.e., childhood
maltreatment) are associated with later-life issues of health and wellbeing. Some researchers
(Perry, Perry, B.D., Pollard, R., Blakely, T., Baker, W., & Vigilante, D.) refer to these
experiences as childhood trauma experiences.

The conundrum is that social service programs and systems dedicated to meeting the needs of children are not, and never
were, designed or organized, to maximize Fathers’ contributions to their children’s well-being:

“Current policy regarding child protection services places increasing demands for providers to engage fathers
whose children are involved in the child protection process. Implementation of this policy clashes with the ongoing
challenges that fathers have historically faced in working within these systems.” The challenge of engaging families
involved with child protective services has been documented for years. Child welfare history reflects an on-going
emphasis on serving mothers, notwithstanding social science research increasingly highlighting the important role
of fathers in children’s development.

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Children and Youth Services Review
Engaging Fathers in Child Protection Services (2012)

Consequently, the systems of care in Pennsylvania are typically not including fathers nor the paternal side of the child’s
family as resources essential to ensuring the safety, permanency, and well-being of children. Thus, our children are often not
fully served.

The Symposium was convened by The Strong Families Commission Incorporated in partnership with AMACHI, Inc.; Delta
Community Supports, Inc.; the Allegheny Intermediate Unit; Fathers Collaborative Council of Western Pennsylvania; Child
Welfare League of America; and the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers to address the
above notion.

The Symposium Planning Committee had the following purposes in mind:

1. To bring to light something that has been in the dark, far too long, … that is the Absence or non-involvement of too
many Fathers in the Care of their Children and Families”;

2. Shine a spotlight on the consequences of that issue;

3. Elevate the discussion at the state level of the value of Father Involvement in the lives of their children and families;

4. Organize communities across the Commonwealth regarding the issue;

5. Build bi-partisan and bicameral support that would encourage and support Commonwealth investment in every
child’s developmental growth, and the elimination of all systemic barriers that impede every Father’s desire to
contribute more to his child’s well-being;

6. Explore barriers that impede Father Involvement within our children and families social service systems; and

7. Convene approximately 100 interdisciplinary executive opinion leaders, policy makers, and child and family service
providers drawing from the philanthropic, private, public, business, corporate and community network of child and
family stakeholders who would provide insight for elected officials on State philosophy, policies, practices,
procedures and protocols that impede Father’s contributions to the care and well-being of their children.

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IV. Making the Case: A Review of the Literature
A. Parenting Our Children: In the Best Interest of the Nation1

On November 20, 1959, the United Nations (U.N.) General Assembly passed Resolution 1386 (XIV), proclaiming that
children are a part of the human community, and as such are entitled to fundamental human rights and the dignity and worth
of humans “without distinction of any kind such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or
social origin, property, birth or other status.” 2

Children by reason of their physical and mental immaturity, according to Resolution 1386 (XIV) need special safeguards and
care, including appropriate legal protection.3 The need for such safeguards have been recognized as far back as the Geneva
Declaration of the Rights of the Child of 1924 and the Universal Declaration of human Rights of 1948.4 Also, the statues of
specialized agencies and international organizations concerned with the welfare of children have for years recognized the
need for the safeguards.5

For decades, the U.N. has called on parents, including men and women as individuals, voluntary organizations, local
authorities and national governments to recognize the rights of children and to defend the rights by legislative and other
measures.6

The U.N. has thus instructed its members and nations of people to give children of the world the best that they have to offer.
The United States is no exception.

In September 1996, the U.S. Commission on Child and Family Welfare (U.S. Commission)
issued a Report to the President and Congress of the United States with 23 recommendations
for advancing the goal of building supports to help both noncustodial and custodial parents
provide their children with both emotional and financial support.7

Given a broad legislative charge to examine and make recommendations on issues of child and
family welfare, but with limited time and resources, the U.S. Commission chose to focus on
custody and visitation issues that affect the children of separating, divorcing and unmarried
parents. Hearings were scheduled in various parts of the country to solicit information from both
research experts, practitioners and parents.
The U.S. Commission began its study by examining the demographic and economic factors
contributing to the increase in divorce and unmarried births that impact custody and visitation determinations. In addition,
the U.S. Commission looked for ways to:

 reduce the adversarial nature of court proceedings affecting parental decision-making, parenting time, and
residential arrangements of children who parents are separating, divorcing or unmarried; and
 to build support for parents in their communities to help them better fulfill their responsibilities to their
families before, during, in the absence of, and after marriage.

1
Parenting Our Children: In the Best Interest of the Nation, Report of the U.S. Commission on Child and Family Welfare, accessible at
https://archive.org/details/parentingourchil00usco. The Report explains why strong families and parenting is in the best interest of the United States.
2
The United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child, accessible at
https://canadiancrc.com/UN_CRC/UN_Declaration_on_the_Rights_of_the_Child.aspx.
3
Id. (stated in Preamble of the Declaration).
4
Id. (stated in Preamble of the Declaration).
5
Id. (stated in Preamble of the Declaration).
6
Id. (stated in Preamble of the Declaration).
7
Parenting Our Children: In the Best Interest of the Nation, Report of the U.S. Commission on Child and Family Welfare, accessible at
https://archive.org/details/parentingourchil00usco.
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The end result was a Report to the President and Congress that outlined 23 recommendations, if implemented, would ensure
that all children receive the love, care and support they need and deserve from both parents.

Twenty-two years after the U.S. Commission’s Report was published we still find ourselves dealing with the same issues
only the need has become greater. The nation’s divorce percentages have remained consistently high (50% of first marriages)
-- coupled with the dramatic increase in non-marital births nationwide (40% of all live births) -- has contributed to an
increasing number of children living in single-parent households and poverty without the love and support of their fathers.,

The findings of the U.S Commission on Child and Family Welfare mirrors, in part, Principle 6 of the U.N. Declaration of the
Rights of the Child:

The child, for the full and harmonious development of his personality, needs love and
understanding. He shall, wherever possible, grow up in the care and under the
responsibility of his parents, and, in any case, in an atmosphere of affection and of
moral and material security; a child of tender years shall not, save in exceptional
circumstances, be separated from his mother. Society and the public authorities shall
have the duty to extend particular care to children without a family and to those without
adequate means of support. Payment of State and other assistance towards the
maintenance of children of large families is desirable.8

Despite this principle, though, the Declaration does not mention a fundamental right to have access to both parents.

Across the United States, individuals and organizations are working to improve the outcomes of children. Many such efforts
focus on ensuring that children have a strong foundation of familial support. Indeed, research shows that children who have
greater family resources and stability are more likely to achieve successful outcomes. 9 And a child’s parents are perhaps the
most important family resource. Nevertheless, countless children do not have access to both of their parents. 10 In 2016, 35%
or 24,267,000 of America’s children were living in single-parent families.11

While many children of single parents undoubtedly can and often do become exceptional adults, far too many others are
denied critical financial, emotional, and social resources by virtue of not having access to one of their parents. Moreover, this
deprivation involves more than lost resources; it involves the loss of an intimate, basic human relationship and, ultimately,
the potential of life-long failure.

Efforts to increase children’s access to their parents must focus both on systemic barriers and explicit policies and
practices that impede this access. Minimally, efforts must focus on the Administration of Justice/Public Safety;
Behavioral health; Child Support Custody, Services & Enforcement; Dependent, Delinquent & Crossover
Children and Youth; Early Childhood Development; Education; Employment and Training; Housing, Supervised
Independent living, and Homelessness; Parent Education/Supportive Services; and Public Health.12 These systems
can have the effect of limiting children’s access to emotional, social, physical, intellectual, spiritual, and financial
contributions of one or both parents. 13

8
Id. (Principle 6 of Declaration).
9
See Marcia J. Carlson and Mary E. Corcoran, Family Structure and Children’s Behavioral and Cognitive Outcomes, Journal of Marriage and
Family 63 (August 2001).
10
“Access” is defined as being able to maintain a consistent relationship with one’s parents.
11
Children in Single Parent Families by Race, Kids Count: https://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/tables/107-children-in-single-parent-families-
by#detailed/1/any/false/870,573,869,36,868,867,133,38,35,18/10,11,9,12,1,185,13/432,431.

12
Child Well-Being in Pennsylvania and the Urgent Need for Father Involvement, the Strong Families Commission,
https://www.brynmawr.edu/sites/default/files/Symposium%203rd%20INFO%20Flyer.pdf
13
See Child Well-Being in Philadelphia: Profiles of Children, Families & Fathers, The Strong Family Commission (September 2014). For
example, as stated by David Hansell, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration for
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In order to remove these barriers, advocates must ensure that policymakers
and subsequent funding awards prioritize the well-being of children when
making decisions that implicate parents. Advocates must also marshal legal
tools that allow them to reform existing policies and practices. These goals
can be achieved through rights-based child advocacy. Framing this issue
through the lens of children’s civil rights provides the legitimacy and legal
authority needed to challenge the status quo and force policymakers to
prioritize children’s access to their parents.

The premise of a rights-based approach is that each child has a constitutional


right of access to both parents.14 Although the proposition that children have an independent right to maintain primary
caregiving relationships has never been openly accepted by the Supreme Court of the United States,15 there is a foundation
of case law and legal principles that support the right. 16

Currently this right-based approach is under review by the legal team of The Strong Families Commission, Incorporated
(THE COMMISSION). THE COMMISSION believes that the approach offers a feasible way forward for establishing a
child’s right to access to their parents.

Children and Families (ACF), before the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means on April 29, 2011, social service programs and systems dedicated to
meeting the needs of children are not, and never were, designed or organized, to maximize fathers’ contributions to their children’s well-being. Services
targeted at fathers are often subject to short-term funding, and tend not to be a primary component in the main service activities. Carol L. Mcallister,
Patrick C. Wilson, Jeffrey Burton 2004, From Sports Fans to Nurturers: An Early Head Start Program's Evolution toward Father Involvement, Fathering,
2004, at 2, 1, 32-59. Additionally, research indicates several issues contribute to barriers to father involvement, including the burden added to an already
overwhelming workload. American Humane Association. Bringing Back the Dads: Changing Practices in Child Welfare Systems. Protecting Children,
2011, at 2.
14
See Gilbert A. Holmes, The Tie That Binds: The Constitutional Right of Children to Maintain Relationships with Parent-Like Individuals, 53
Md. L. Rev. 358, 361 (1994).
15
Anne C. Dailey, Children’s Constitutional Rights, 95 Minn. L. Rev. 2099, 2162 (2011) (quotations omitted); see also Michael H. v. Gerald
D., 491 U.S. 110, 130 (1989) (“We have never had occasion to decide whether a child has a liberty interest, symmetrical with that of her parent, in
maintaining her filial relationship.”).
16
See Gilbert A. Holmes, The Tie That Binds: The Constitutional Right of Children to Maintain Relationships with Parent-Like Individuals, 53
Md. L. Rev. 358, 361 (1994).

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B. Searching for Greater Father Involvement
For some time now, western societal views on fatherhood have progressively shifted from favoring a more traditional role of
financial provider, disciplinarian, teacher of the outside world, and protector of the family, to a role that is more involved in
the nurturing of children. 17

American society, no different, now increasingly expects the modern father to be more caring and emotionally available to
his children.18

The questions become:

o What does this mean?

o Fathers should be fully present and engaged in providing the emotional, social, physical, intellectual, spiritual and
financial contributions that their children need to ensure safety, permanency and well-being.

o Why is the change necessary?

o Father Involvement is a protective factor for children that aids in the development of resilience and mitigates certain
psychological and social risks in the adulthood of the child. 19

o When must it be done?

o Now, through self-examination and learning how to be better Fathers to our children, co-parents with the mothers
of our children, and strong community members giving back to others.

o Where should it occur?

o Everywhere.

o Who is responsible for the transformation?

o You are, and so are All of US.

James Brown, a Clinical Psychologist and Lecturer in the School of Psychology and Counseling at the University of Southern
Queensland in Australia, and author of “Father Involvement in Parenting: What We Know and What We Need to Know”
writes:

“[A]n increasing number of fathers, report the desire to be more involved in the lives
of their children and reject the idea of being relegated to the traditional role of provider
only. Men want to spend more time with their children, and are looking to share the
responsibility of child-rearing more equally with mothers. Common activities that
today’s fathers often reported engaging in with their children include care giving, play
or social activities, guidance or teaching, and emotional support.”

17
Father Involvement in Parenting: What We Know and What We Need to Know, Men Advocating Real Change (June 4, 2018):
http://onthemarc.org/blogs/22/500#.Wz115RJKjs1.
18
Id.
19
Id.
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Professor Brown is not alone in his search for greater father involvement, global organizations like Promundo20 and Men
Care21 are promoting men’s caregiving and active fatherhood to encourage equitable gender roles, prevent violence against
women and children, and contribute to positive maternal and child health outcomes.

Promundo’s the State of the World’s Fathers (2015 & 2017 Editions) reports are landmark analyses of fatherhood and
caregiving, drawing upon research from hundreds of studies across the world and providing recommendations for policy and
programmatic action to promote gender equality.

Men Care is an international campaign coordinated by Promundo that is working towards two fundamental goals: Men doing
50 percent of the caregiving work around the world, and the universal uptake of equitable and nonviolent fatherhood practices.
Men Care works to achieve these goals by advocating diverse policy measures in governments and workplaces; by
campaigning to shift social norms and attitudes about fatherhood; and by educating men about healthy, equitable, and
nonviolent parenting practices. It holds gender equality and the wellbeing of women and girls, as well as men and boys, as
core principles. As such, it distinguishes itself from so-called “father’s rights” perspectives that implicitly form a backlash
against hard-won gains by women and against gains to achieve gender equality in our parenting relations. 22

Thus, Men Care promotes men’s involvement in caregiving for gender equality and the betterment of the lives of men,
women, and children. This transformation of household relations, and the equal contribution of men to the daily work of
raising children is fundamental for meeting the physical and emotional needs of children.

Men Care member organizations around the world can claim difference in cultural and intervention strategies, but they all
believe, agree on, and abide by these guiding principles:

1. Gender-equal parenting holds benefits for men and men’s wellbeing;

2. Promotes Women’s Rights;

3. Promotes Children’s Rights;

4. Promotes Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR);

5. Transforming Fatherhood will Reduce Gender-based Violence;

6. Transformation of Parenting Practices to End Violence Against Children;

7. Supports Non-biological Parents and Recognizes Diversity in Parenting;

8. Upholds the Right of all People to Care for Children, including LGBT and Other Often-Marginalized Groups;

9. Promotes Fathers’ Presence During Pregnancy and Delivery; and,

10. Advocates for Paid Parental Leave for Both Parents.23

20
Promundo (June 4, 2018): https://promundoglobal.org/work/?program=fatherhood-and-caregiving.
21
Men Care, a Global Fatherhood Campaign (June 4, 2018): https://men-care.org/.
22
Guiding Principles, Men Care (June 4, 2018): https://men-care.org/about-mencare/guiding-principles/.
23
Id.
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The work of Men Care in the United States can be seen through a partnering organization, Merge for Equality,24 which is
working to change the way we raise boys through two pilot initiatives targeting early childhood educators and child-serving
agencies: The Developing Healthy Boys Training25 and the Children’s Book Campaign. 26

C. Fathers Matter as it Relates to the Well-Being of Children


Increasingly, the prevailing view in America is that, in the best set of circumstances, most children are raised by their
biological parents in a healthy, supportive environment, and never experience disruption of their parents’ emotional, social,
physical, intellectual, spiritual or financial support. However, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that 31% of our children are
living with either a single parent or no parent at all (23% with mother, 4% with father, and 4% with no parent).

The Annie E. Casey Foundation Kids Count Data Center has found that nearly 25 million (24,444,000) or 35% of American
children live in single parent families. In Pennsylvania, the number is closer to a million (914,000), or 36% of the child
population.

The National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) declares that both parents not being “present” in the lives
of their children, most often fathers, is a contributing factor to the number of children in the child
welfare and juvenile justice systems of care. Children with involved Fathers, on the other hand,
often experience just the opposite. They are more likely to better perform across every measure of
child well-being than their peers in father-absent homes. NFI believes “father-absence” is a major
impediment to the well-being of children and families in America, Pennsylvania is no exception.
We came together to explore this issue.27

Expert Findings about Involved Fathers

Research about a mother’s role in child development appears voluminously in the literature, largely because attachment
theory gives a basis from which to conduct the research. No such theory exists for fathers, which may be part of the reason
that data on the positive influence that fathers have on their children has been slow to accumulate. 28

Now, instead of viewing fathers only through the lens of what is known about mothers, researchers are looking at the unique
and important ways fathers influence their children. 29

As a result of this research, it is now generally accepted that fathers play an essential role in the upbringing of their children,
and that they can be just as sensitive and nurturing to their children as mothers can. 30

A father’s nurturing presence can continue to benefit children and help them develop cognitive, socially, and emotionally
throughout their life cycle. In fact, in a 2001 review of father’s love, Rohner and Veneziano concluded: “Overall, father love
appears to be as heavily implicated as mother love in off springs’ psychological wellbeing and health, as well as in an array
of psychological and behavioral problems.”31

24
Merge for Equality (June 4, 2018): http://www.mergeforequality.org/.
25
Training and Consulting, Merge for Equality (June 4, 2018), http://www.mergeforequality.org/training-and-consulting/fall-2017-training/
26
Children’s Books, Merge for Equality (June 4, 2018), http://www.mergeforequality.org/childrens-books/.
27
The Strong Families Commission, Incorporated 2017 Symposium Flyer.
28
The Importance of Dads, Boba (July 4, 2018) https://boba.com/pages/the-importance-of-dads.
29
Cabrera N, Fitzgerald HE, Bradley RH, Roggman L. Modeling the dynamics of paternal influences on children over the life course. Appl
Developmental Sci. 2007: 11 (4): 185-189.
30
Pruett, K., The Nurturing Father, New York: Warner Books, 1987.
31
Rohner, R. P., & Veneziano, R. A. (2001). The importance of father love: History and contemporary evidence. Review of General
Psychology, 5, (4), 382-405.
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D. Adverse Consequences of Father Absence and Non-Involvement
The National Fatherhood Initiative’s (NFI) research indicates that children and youth who experience father absence in the
home are more likely to face many of the contemporary social issues confronting American society today. For example,
Father-Absent children are four times more likely to experience poverty; two times more likely to suffer infant mortality;
seven times more likely to become pregnant; two times more likely to suffer obesity; and more likely to face abuse and
neglect, to abuse drugs and alcohol, to have behavioral problems, to commit a crime, and to go to prison. 32 [refer to
infographic on page 24] And unfortunately, there has been an increase in Father Absence or Non-Father-Involvement. One
reason for this is the changing norms of what constitutes a family unit. Notwithstanding the reason or the explanation too
many children are growing up without the support of both parents in a healthy and supportive environment.

According to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis Reporting Service (AFCARS), one significant result of the problem is
seen in the number of children served by the foster care system in 2016: 677,741. On September 30, 2016 there were 437,465
children in foster care; 117,794 waiting to be adopted; 65,274 waiting to be adopted whose parental rights (for all living
parents) were terminated during the fiscal year; and 57,208 children adopted with public child welfare agency involvement
during the fiscal year.33

It is important to note that AFCARS provided preliminary estimates of Adoption and Foster Care Reporting during the 2016
fiscal year. As states are permitted to resubmit AFCARS data, the estimates may change over time. The above reporting
figures reflect all AFCARS data received as of October 20, 2017 related to AFCARS reporting periods through September
30, 2016.

Yes, growing up without a father—whether due to divorce, a non-marital birth, or a father’s death—is associated with a host
of negative effects. A review of 47 studies by researchers Sara McLanahan, Laura Tach, and Daniel Schneider using a variety
of methods designed to uncover the causal effects of father absence found: 34

Education

 There is consistent evidence that father absence lowers children’s educational attainment and decreases the
likelihood that they will graduate from high school.

Mental Health
 Four of six relevant analyses demonstrate “a negative effect of parental divorce on adult mental health,” and 19 of
27 analyses on delinquency and negative “externalizing” behaviors “found a significant positive effect of divorce or
father absence on problem behavior for at least one comparison group.” In addition, five of six studies on substance
use suggest father absence affects a child’s likelihood of smoking cigarettes and using drugs and alcohol.

Labor Force

 “Divorce was associated with lower levels of employment” in two studies, and in two other studies there were
“higher levels of labor force inactivity among those who experienced divorce in early childhood.” In a fifth study,

32
Fatherhood Data Statistics, National Fatherhood Initiative (July 7, 2018): https://www.fatherhood.org/fatherhood-data-statistics
33
The AFCARS Report, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (July 6, 2018):
https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/cb/afcarsreport24.pdf.
34
Sara McLanahan, Laura Tach, and Daniel Schneider, The Causal Effects of Father Absence, Annual Review of Sociology (July 6, 2018):
https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-soc-071312-145704.

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growing up with stepparents and with a single divorced mother had negative effects on occupational status, while
growing up with a single widowed mother was not a disadvantage relative to growing up with stable married parents.

Family Formation and Stability

 The three relevant studies on how father absence affects children’s chances of marriage came to varying conclusions;
however, two analyses on the influence of father absence on early childbearing show a positive association between
the two.

In short, while selection definitely plays a role in the association between family structure and child outcomes, father
absence does have lasting, causal effects on a child’s life outcomes. 35

35
Yes, Father Absence Causes the Problem It’s Associated With, Institute for Family Studies (July 6, 2018): https://ifstudies.org/blog/yes-
father-absence-causes-the-problems-its-associated-with.

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Infographic Source: National Fatherhood Initiative

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E. Benefits of Involved Fathers, Yet Father-Child Barriers Still Seem to Exist
Throughout this document the authors have attempted and will continue to show the benefit of fathers’ contributions to the
well-being of children, while also citing the consequences of father absence or non-involvement. These topics have been
researched now for several decades without explaining if there are benefits to children having involved fathers and without
asking, what barriers exist that impede the involvement?

One explanation might be found in the research methodology often used in father-absent research. For example, Dr. Deborah
J. Johnson, Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Michigan State University cautions the use of father-
absent research by itself as a means of understanding the role of fathers, family functioning, and child outcomes.

Dr. Johnson sees father-absent research as a flawed paradigm because it emphasizes or limits its scope to documenting
physical locale and contact patterns of biological fathers; instead, she prefers to understand fathers within the context of their
presence on family functioning. For her, a father-present study would look beyond residence and the numerical pattern of
contact a father has with his child, and more to the unique contribution he makes to the child’s development.

More specifically she writes, “father-absence research is constrained by its simplistic and narrow perspective on parenting
influences as well as its adherence to a stagnant cultural ideal (M. Lamb, 1987) that weakens purported linkages to child
outcomes. Although few empirical studies make the linkage between child outcomes and a more multifaceted notion of father
presence, they are powerful and compelling works.” 36 Nevertheless, Dr. Johnson concludes that within the context of caring
and nurturing relations, fathers can offer unique contributions to the development of healthy children in a variety of family
types.37

While at the National Center on Fathers and Families (NCOFF), housed at the University of Pennsylvania, Department of
Education, Dr. Johnson identified seven core concepts relating to fathers that are relevant today:

 Fathers care, even if that caring is not shown in conventional ways

 Father presence matters – in terms of economic well-being, social support, and child development

 Joblessness is a major impediment to family formation and father involvement

 Existing approaches to public, child support enforcement, and paternity establishment create obstacles and
disincentives to father involvement

 A growing number of young fathers and mothers need additional support to develop the vital skills to share the
responsibility for parenting

 The transition from biological father to committed parent has significant developmental implications for young
fathers

 Intergenerational beliefs and practices within families of origin significantly influence the behaviors of young
parents38

Clinical Psychologist, James Brown, reiterates here again that Father Involvement should be considered a protective factor
for children that aids in the development of resilience and mitigates certain psychological and social risks in adulthood. In

36
Dr. Deborah J. Johnson, Father Presence Matters: A Review of the Literature, U.S. Department of Education (July 13, 2018):
https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED454976.pdf.
37
Id.
38
The Fathering Indicators Framework, The National Center on Families and Fathers (July 13, 2018): http://menengage.org/wp-
content/uploads/2014/06/The_fathering_indicator_framework.pdf.
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fact, given the positive outcomes of father involvement research, he cites four personal factors that seem to predict the level
of father involvement with their children:

1. The characteristics and attributes of the child, such as gender, birth order, and good temperament;

2. The characteristics of the mother, i.e. educated, involved with the children, employed outside the home, or is older
than the father;

3. Marital (or relationship) harmony is likely to lead to increased levels of involvement on the part of the father; and

4. The characteristics of the fathers themselves, such as age, engagement in employment, and higher education, as well
as knowledge, attitudes, and skills in parenting.

Other barriers cited include workload, time pressures, and the weight of having to earn an income. 39

Notwithstanding the benefits of Father Involvement to the child, there are benefits to the Father as well. For example,
according to Stephanie Arnold:

 Involved fathers feel more self-confident and effective as parents, find parenthood more satisfying, and feel more
intrinsically important to their child

 Spending time taking care of children provides fathers opportunities to display affection and to nurture their children.

 Involved fathers are more likely to see their interactions with their children positively, be more attentive to their
children’s development, better understand and are more accepting of their children, and enjoy closer, richer father-
child relationships, when involved with their children. They are also more likely to engage in supportive interactions,
regardless of negative mood.

 Fathers who are involved in their children’s lives are more likely to exhibit greater psychosocial maturity, be more
satisfied with their lives, feel less psychological distress, and be more able to understand themselves, empathically
understand others, and integrate their feelings in an on-going way.

 Involved fathers report fewer accidental and premature deaths, less than average contact with the law, less substance
abuse, fewer hospital admissions, and a greater sense of well-being overall.

 Involved fathers are more likely to participate in the community, serve in civic or community leadership positions,
and attend church more often.40

39
James Brown, Father Involvement in Parenting: What We Know and What We Need to Know (July 13, 2018):
http://onthemarc.org/blogs/22/500#.W0lUthJKhN1.
40
Stephanie Arnold and Glenda Wall, How Involved is Involved Fathering? (July 13, 2018):
http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0891243207304973.
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F. Commonly Cited Barriers to Father Involvement
The literature is rich with possible barriers to explain Father Absence and/or the Non-Involvement of Fathers in the life of
too many children. Many explanations overlap; none are more important than the other, thus the following repeated barriers
are clustered and are provided for individual conversation, group discussions, and/or scientific research.

The Mother Factor

 Gatekeeping by Mothers
 Disagreements between fathers and mothers.
 Domestic violence experience
 The changing relationship status between biological parents
 Some mothers are worrisome about increased father involvement
 Mothers’ reports of father involvement (they may especially under-
report non-resident fathers’ involvement and/or contributions)
 Remarried

Personal Circumstances of Fathers

 Disagreements between fathers and mothers


 Changing relationship status between biological parents
 Domestic violence experience
 Father not living with mother and child
 Lack of time

 Personal choices as well as work policies affect time available

 Lack of energy

 Work constraints

 Pressure of work and career can result in little time for parenting
 Work schedule

 Poor father role model


 Lack of adult male model for fathering
 Lack of other positive role models
 Father’s own fears of exposing his inadequacies
 Father not knowing he’s a dad
 Father has a new family
 Geographic mobility limitation
 Remarried
 Poor relationships with child’s mother and maternal family
 Lack of authority over child rearing decisions
 Lack of confidence in parenting skills
 Lack of skills in parenting
 Father’s psychological pain
 Lack of finances

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 Lack of extended family support
 Dealing with the legal system and bureaucracies
 Loss of driver’s license
 Physical distance from their child
 Stigma and emotional stress attached to their inability to assume the “normal” role expected of fathers (protection,
provision, nurturance)

Institutional Barriers

Ex-Offender Status

 Qualifying for employment opportunities, an ex-offender often has difficulty finding legitimate employment,
because he/she lacks marketable skills, and/or a work history
 Experiencing civic disabilities

 Denied the right to participate in civic life


 Inability to serve on juries
 Lacking the right to vote
 May not be able to hold Public Office
 Unable to enter into certain contracts

 Public Benefits Denied

 Public Assistance – Federal Welfare law bar individuals with a history of felony conviction from receiving
welfare benefits or food stamps
 Access to Public Housing
 Education and Vocational Training Opportunities

Child Support Enforcement – Common Beliefs

 Child Support Enforcement (CSE) policies are not designed to accommodate noncustodial fathers who
have a limited ability to pay child support.

A new and revised federal child support regulation -- Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement Final
Rule: Flexibility, Efficiency, and Modernization in Child Support Enforcement Programs – issued in 2016
includes a provision that requires state child support agencies to establish orders that are based on a
noncustodial parent's ability to pay (actual earnings) rather than imputed (a guess what they are or should
be earning.)

More info on the rule is here on the OCSE website (https://www.acf.hhs.gov/css/resource/final-rule-


resources).

The federal timelines for states to comply with some provisions of the rule vary based on state laws. But a
quick list of the general compliance dates is here
https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/programs/css/final_rule_compliance_dates_table_1220.pdf. .

 Paternity establishment operates to create obstacles and disincentives to father involvement, while much
improved in many locations, it can still be very slow, and excessively court administered. It also tends to
lead to a child support obligation that, in many cases, is not in line with noncustodial fathers' ability to pay
child support.

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Actually, in 1993 a federal law was passed that required OCSE -- via the states -- to administer paternity
establishment programs in all birthing hospitals and, since the majority of unmarried fathers are present at
the time their child is born, it allows both parents to voluntarily sign a paternity affidavit at the hospital,
thereby negating the need to go to court to do so. There has been a dramatic rise – nationally and since the
law was enacted -- in the number of unmarried fathers who have had their paternity established through
this process.

However, legal paternity does not necessarily mean that an unmarried father has automatic parenting time
rights to his child(ren.) In all states but one (Texas), unmarried fathers who want a legal parenting time
order guaranteeing access to his child must go to court to do so. This is an obstacle for many fathers who
do not have the financial resources to hire an attorney or to proceed pro se.

If an unmarried mother requests child support -- via the child support agency or because she is a recipient
of TANF funds -- she will need to identify the biological father of the child and the child support agency
will contact him and offer him the opportunity to sign an affidavit or take a DNA test that proves whether
he is or is not the father of the child.

 The Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program taxes child support income at 100 percent,
except for the first $50 per month, which produces a serious disincentive for noncustodial fathers to pay
child support through the formal child support system.

 The CSE system does not allow noncustodial fathers to provide in-kind or child care assistance in order to
meet their child support obligation when their incomes decline.

True in part. In-kind assistance is not recognized although there has been much debate about this topic.
Any change in the law would have to come from Congress. In some states, child support orders are based,
in part, on the amount of time spent with dads versus mothers.

 CSE awards are rarely modified during periods of unemployment, which can lead to significant
arrearages for noncustodial fathers, which cannot be forgiven by the courts.

When noncustodial parents lose their jobs, they can request a modification of child support based on
unemployment and reduced or no earnings. There are state policies on these procedures to expedite these
requests. Fathers need to be educated about this. It’s important that fathers contact their local child support
office as soon as their circumstances change to start the case review process as quickly as possible.

 CSE programs tend to be silent regarding noncustodial fathers' involvement in their children's lives
beyond their financial obligation, ignoring such issues as visitation and custody.

For the most part, true, since federal statute prohibits child support funds to be used for helping fathers with
custody or visitation issues. However, some state child support agencies use federal funds available under
the [Child] Access and Visitation (AV) Grant program to help fathers with visitation issues. Pennsylvania
Child Support Agency administers this grant program and should be encouraged to use these funds to help
fathers in the child support system. Research has proven a strong correlation between increased NCP access
to children and an increase in child support paid. Each year, about $10 million in grant funding goes to
states and territories to operate the AV program, which helps increase noncustodial parents’ access to and
time with their children.

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Child Well-Being in Pennsylvania and the Urgent Need for Father Involvement:
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Child Welfare System Policy Bias

 Gender roles: Bias against vacating traditional roles

 Societal ambivalence around fatherhood

 Active or passive ambivalence of program staff about father involvement

 Many of the child and family agencies consists mostly of women who may identify with and are more
comfortable with moms than dads (perhaps they lack experience with fathers)

 The culture of family and agency staff may promote the notion of women as primary caretakers,
particularly of young children

 Some agency staff and parents may not fully appreciate the key and unique role a father plays in his
child’s healthy development.

 Some child and family agency staff and mothers may harbor bad feelings toward fathers because of their
own hurtful experiences

 Overburdened workers

 Concern that increased funding for providing services to men will drain limited fiscal resources

 Workers’ reluctance to involve a male perpetrator (type unidentified)

 Some agency staff may simply not know how to get fathers involved

 Some agency staff may assume that fathers do not show up because they do not want to participate

 Lack of experience and confidence among staff in understanding how to work with fathers

 The lack of adequate support for the full-male development of fathers, i.e. sufficient role models,
preparatory classes & support groups, makes it harder for those wanting to be good fathers

 Lack of male staff to whom fathers can relate 41

41
The data in this section was gathered from Material Presented at an October 12, 2012 NASW-PA Workshop Training, titled “Present,
absent or Anonymous – Fathers, Does it Matter? Who Cares and Why?”
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G. Children and Family Services within Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is one of four states in the United States that calls itself a Commonwealth, others include Kentucky,
Massachusetts, and Virginia. Although the distinction is in name alone, according to many, some of us would like to think
that the term implies more.42

For example, Chris Potter, staff writer, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, suggested in a November 13, 2003 article that the distinction
seems to be that the term “commonwealth” refers to the land and citizens in general, while the word “state” is typically used
to denote the government entity that presides over them. 43 Doing further research for his article Potter found an old textbook
at the Carnegie Library published in 1940 titled “Pennsylvania: The Story of a Commonwealth,” which provides more clarity
for those of us who wanted to know more about the term Commonwealth vs. State. Potter reports that a Commonwealth is a
community formed for the “common weal” 44 (the welfare of the public)—that is for the common good and welfare of all in
which the citizens choose their government and make their laws by majority vote. 45

Article I, DECLARATION OF RIGHTS of the Pennsylvania Constitution, states: “WE, the people
of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and
religious liberty, and humbly invoking His guidance, do ordain and establish this Constitution,
provides clarity for the inherent rights of all Pennsylvanians.

In fact, Section I of Article I, states “All men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent and indefeasible
rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, of acquiring, possessing and protecting property
and reputation, and of pursuing their own happiness.”

In that regard, Pennsylvania has established a Department of Human Services that has as its mission to improve the quality
of life for Pennsylvania’s individuals and families, by promoting opportunities for independence through services and
supports while demonstrating accountability for taxpayer resources.

In short, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services as reflected by Pennsylvania’s historic naming, and its constitution
of 1874, provides care and support to Pennsylvania's most vulnerable individuals and families consistent with the concept of
the welfare of the general public.

The Department of Human Services are administered through the following Units of government.

Office of Medical Assistance Programs, responsible for purchasing health care for more than 2.3 million
Pennsylvania residents and enrolling Medical Assistance providers who administer the care.

Office of Developmental Programs works with individuals and families to provide supportive services and care for
people with cognitive disabilities, especially intellectual disabilities and disorders such as autism.

Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services administers programs to support people suffering from
mental illness or substance abuse issues, such as a drug or alcohol addiction.

42
What’s the difference between a commonwealth and a state? Merriam-Webster (July 7, 2018): https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-
play/whats-the-difference-between-a-commonwealth-and-a-state.
43
Mike Geier, We live in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. What’s the difference between a commonwealth and a regular ol’ state?
Pittsburgh City Paper (July 7, 2018): https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/we-live-in-the-commonwealth-of-pennsylvania-whats-the-difference-
between-a-commonwealth-and-a-regular-ol-state/Content?oid=1335825.
44
“Common weal,” Google Dictionary (July 7, 2018):
https://www.google.com/search?q=%27common+weal%27+define&oq=%27common+weal%27+define&aqs=chrome..69.
45
Geier, supra note 2.
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Office of Children Youth and Families serves children and families through a nationally recognized child support
enforcement program, oversees adoption and foster care services, and works with counties on child abuse prevention
and juvenile justice issues.

Office of Income Maintenance, the department serves low-income Pennsylvanians through cash assistance programs
such as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, or TANF; employment and training programs; the Supplemental
Nutrition Assistance Program, formally known as food stamps; home heating assistance; and assistance programs for
refugees and the homeless.

The Department of Human Services also works closely with other state agencies who serve similar populations.

For example, the Department partners with the Pennsylvania Department of Aging through the Office of Long-Term Living.
This office addresses the solutions and challenges of housing and caring for older adults.

Also, in a joint partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the Office of Child Development and Early
Learning serves children and families in early learning, subsidized child care and early intervention programs for at-risk
children. The Department of Human Services also licenses and regulates thousands of facilities that care for many
Pennsylvanians, including child care centers and personal care homes. 46

Unfortunately, notwithstanding Pennsylvania’s designation as a Commonwealth, nor its constitutional principles, for many
it remains a society that provides full service access for some, but not for all. Case in point, it does not intentionally remove
systematic barriers that impede Father Inclusion in service delivery to children and families. This results in a disservice to
children and families within the Commonwealth.

46
About DHS, Department of Human Services (July 7, 2018), http://www.dhs.pa.gov/learnaboutdhs/index.htm.
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V. Delegates Speak Regarding 10 of Pennsylvania’s Service Delivery
Systems’ “Welcoming of Fathers Contributions as assets to the well-being
of children and families”

A. Administration of Justice/Public Safety


The rights and privileges that the justice system affords children and parents should, in theory, shape how social systems and
institutions approach them. Unfortunately, though, policies and practices in the justice system often conflict with the rights
and privileges guaranteed to children and parents.

Under the United States Constitution, federal statutes, and Pennsylvania law, children and parents enjoy a number of rights
and privileges. Perhaps most importantly, “familial companionship” is a basic right that all children and parents enjoy.47
Children have a right to access their parents, and parents have a right to access their children. The United States Supreme
Court, for example, has stated:

Choices about marriage, family life, and the upbringing of children are among associational rights this Court has
ranked as of basic importance in our society, rights sheltered by the Fourteenth Amendment against the State’s
unwarranted usurpation, disregard, or disrespect.48

In other words, all Americans have strong associational rights when it comes to family life and the upbringing of children.

Despite these strong associational rights, decisions are often made by our legal system that create barriers to children
maintaining and/or accessing both of their parents. One such example in Pennsylvania is the punitive nature of child
support enforcement. Although a father (or mother) who is behind on child support payments might be struggling with
financial insecurity, s/he can face harsh consequences for the missed payments, including debilitating fines and
incarceration. Such consequences can not only immediately obstruct the current parent-child relationship but also harm
child well-being in the long term. As the Annie E. Casey Foundation concluded in a recent report: “Incarceration breaks
up families, the building blocks of our communities and nation. It creates an unstable environment for kids that can have
lasting effect on their development and well-being.”49 Because “[h]aving a parent incarcerated is a stressful, traumatic
experience,” it can jeopardize a child’s long-term mental and emotional stability. 50

47
See Smith v. City of Fontana, 818 F.2d 1411, 1418 (9th Cir. 1987) overruled on other grounds by Hodgers-Durgin v. de la Vina, 199 F.3d
1037 (9th Cir. 1999).
48
M.L.B. v. S.L.J., 519 U.S. 102, 116–17 (1996).
49
A Shared Sentence: The Devastating Toll of Parental Incarceration on Kids, Families and Communities, the Annie E. Casey Foundation (on
file with author).
50
Id.
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At the Symposium, the Administration of Justice and Public Safety Roundtable Discussion Group examined child support
enforcement and other areas within the justice system that directly impact child well-being and father involvement. The
group’s analysis led it to a conclusion that is counterintuitive given the strong associational rights that the justice system
guarantees parents and children: the justice system often serves as a significant barrier to father involvement by stigmatizing
and further penalizing fathers who are (1) under the jurisdiction of child support orders, (2) at risk of being subjected to a
child support order, or (3) have satisfied their child support obligations.

There is another type of barrier that works against the tens of thousands of incarcerated parents who may never get out to
experience housing or employment stigmatization, but due most often experience daily proximity placement punishment
which is often harmful to family life and the well-being of their children.

Inmates who are incarcerated and several hours or days away from their families
often experience the pain that their family members cannot afford to visit or do
not have suitable transportation options; when their family members do visit,
including children, there is limited or no physical contact allowed, and no
semblance of privacy or activities promoting family connection. Some would call
this a condition of “Post-Justice System Involvement.” One recommendation
would be to use technology more for parental contact such as Skype/Face Time,
etc.

It is important to note that there can be collateral consequences for justice system
involvement for all parties involved. Collateral consequences are legal and
regulatory sanctions and restrictions that can limit or prohibit people with criminal records from accessing employment,
occupational licensing, housing, voting, education, and other opportunities. 51 Collateral consequences most frequently affect
people who have been convicted of a crime, though in some states an arrest alone—even an arrest that doesn't result in a
conviction—may trigger a collateral consequence. 52

Regrettably, too many people do not understand the extent of collateral consequences, and such consequences can sometimes
be more severe and longer lasting than the actual sentence imposed by a judge.53 In Pennsylvania, collateral consequences
can affect adoption and foster care, child custody, driver’s license, employment, financial aid, firearm licensing, immigration
status, jury service, pension, prior-record scores, public benefits, sex offender registration, state parole, subsidized housing,
and voting.54

51
National Inventory of the Collateral Consequences of Conviction, Justice Center of the Council of State Governments,
https://niccc.csgjusticecenter.org/.
52
Id.
53
Collateral Consequences for Criminal Convictions, JD Law, https://www.mystatecollegelawyer.com/Drug-Crimes/Sentencing-for-Drug-
Delivery-Charges/Collateral-Consequences-For-Criminal-Convictions.shtml.
54
Counsel’s Ethical Obligation to Inform Regarding “Collateral Consequences,” Defender Association of Philadelphia (August 14, 2014, on
file with authors).
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Symposium Findings

How the Justice System Interacts with Child Well-Being and Father Involvement

The justice system interacts with child well-being and father involvement in a variety of ways. The most profound ways
relate to the criminal justice system and child support enforcement. Physical proximity and availability are key to father
involvement, and the criminal justice system affects both. Incarceration directly limits access to fathers, and reentry policies
impact fathers’ capacity to be available for their children. So too with the child support system; child support enforcement
can lead to incarceration and fines.

Underscoring the impact of incarceration, “[a]s of Dec. 31, 2015 there were approximately 1.53 million people in federal
and state prisons, and more than 50 percent of those inmates have one or more child(ren) under the age of 18, leaving an
estimated 2.7 million children with a parent incarcerated.”55 Further, at any given time, countless fathers are serving jail time,
which can be just as disruptive to a child as prison time, “making it difficult for remaining caregivers to maintain a job,
housing and child care.”56

Incarceration and child support enforcement also affect father involvement in a more elusive way: through collateral
consequences that affect fathers’ access to financial resources that fathers feel they need to serve as present and effective
father figures. The collateral consequences include criminal records, fines, and most importantly, stigma.

Salient Barriers to Child Well-Being and Father Involvement in


Pennsylvania’s Justice System

Countless fathers face stigma because of their interactions with the justice system.

Perhaps the biggest barrier to father involvement relating to the justice system is stigma. Fathers who have interacted with
the child support system or the criminal justice system are stigmatized. They are viewed as persons who do not care about
their families and who have little to offer their children. This view affects how various social service systems approach
fathers; it leads to an unwillingness to engage with fathers and an unwillingness to foster fathers’ value to their children.

Fathers do not always understand their “rights and responsibilities” as it relates to the support of
their children.

“Fathers have the same responsibilities and, importantly, the same rights as mothers” (Justice Max Baer, Pennsylvania
Supreme Court, Letter to Symposium Planning Committee August 4, 2017.) Yet many fathers are unaware of both their
procedural rights within the child support system and the responsibilities that the system affords them. They believe
that, if they fail to comply with their child support obligations, they have no procedural protections allowing them to
redress the lack of compliance. Fathers often have the erroneous belief that if they fall behind on child support payments,
they immediately forfeit their parenting rights. This belief deters fathers from engaging with the child support system to
rectify past compliance failures, and it chills father involvement.

Fathers do not understand their child support rights because information about their rights is neither disseminated to them in
effective ways nor otherwise publicized. Relatedly, stakeholders in the child support system often fail to engage fathers and

55
Child Support and Incarceration, National Conference of State Legislatures, http://www.ncsl.org/research/human-services/child-support-
and-incarceration.aspx;
56
A Shared Sentence: The Devastating Toll of Parental Incarceration on Kids.
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approach them as a resource for children. Fathers therefore lack relationships with stakeholders within the system who can
educate them about their rights.

The criminal justice and child support systems focus too much on punishing and too little on
rehabilitating.

The criminal justice and child support systems focus heavily on punishment, not rehabilitation. This focus is
counterproductive for fathers, undercutting their ability to serve as effective parents. In the criminal justice system, fathers
are frequently removed from their children’s lives because of low-level felonies and misdemeanors (i.e., drug-related
incarceration). And in the child support system, if a father fails to make payments, he can, among other things, (1) have his
driver’s license suspended, (2) be subjected to significant fines, or (3) be imprisoned. 57 These penalties can derail a father’s
efforts to become financially self-sufficient, thus preventing him from having the capacity to serve as a stable, effective force
in his child’s life. Rarely do the criminal justice and child support systems demonstrate a commitment to rehabilitation and
reuniting families.

Returning citizens lack guidance and awareness of resources.

A father returning to the community after incarceration faces a daunting task. He must not only reintroduce himself to the
labor market and overcome the stigma of being a felon but also rebuild his relationship with his child. To achieve these
things, fathers need help. But they often lack awareness of the resources available to them. As with child support rights, the
criminal justice system and related social service systems do not effectively disseminate information to returning citizens.

Main Takeaway
Because of the justice system’s punitive approach, when fathers interact with the system, they are stigmatized. The criminal
justice and child support systems treat those who break the law and those who miss child support payments as unworthy of
rehabilitation, and that treatment leads to stigmatization that serves as a major barrier to father involvement.

“Without a doubt, people who break the law should face consequence,” but our justice system, when punishing fathers, should
at the very least consider the effects of the punishment on their ability to serve as effective, positive role models for their
children.58

57
Pennsylvania Child Support Handbook, Bureau of Child Support Enforcement,
https://www.humanservices.state.pa.us/csws/csws/forms/Pub%20266%209-11.pdf.
58
A Shared Sentence: The Devastating Toll of Parental Incarceration on Kids.
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B. Behavioral Health
The term “behavioral health” is often used interchangeably with “mental health.” Behavioral health services are services
designed to promote well-being by addressing psychological disorders, addiction, problematic patterns of behavior, and
environmental stimuli that affect psychological well-being. A variety of entities provide behavioral health services in
Pennsylvania, including county-level children, youth, and family agencies; the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services;
public schools; and community-based behavioral health organizations, such as Community Behavioral Health in Philadelphia.

Children and parents routinely interact with behavioral health providers, and effective behavioral health services are critical
to child well-being. According to the Center for Social Policy, “[c]hildren and youth with mental health problems have lower
educational achievement, greater involvement with the criminal justice system and fewer stable and longer-term placements
in the child welfare system than children with other disabilities.” 59

Behavioral health services are also important for parents’


wellness and, in turn, parents’ effectiveness as caretakers.
Among adults, untreated behavioral health issues are correlated
with homelessness, incarceration, chronic medical conditions,
and lower educational achievement.60 These consequences can
significantly disrupt the parent-child relationship. But even if
behavioral health issues do not lead to such dire consequences,
they can affect a parent’s ability to serve as a competent and
involved parent. Parenting requires focus, patience, time, and
financial resources. It also requires a plan that gives the child
the best opportunity to learn, grow, and prosper. Faced with
unaddressed behavioral health challenges, fulfilling these
requirements is difficult.

Because behavioral health can play a pivotal role in child well-


being and parent engagement, the Symposium considered the
specific ways in which Pennsylvania’s behavioral health system
interacts with child well-being and father involvement, as well
as the barriers within the system that impede father involvement.
In considering the latter, a theme quickly emerged among the experts participating in the Symposium process: behavioral
health entities and staff often fail to consider father involvement a priority.

Symposium Findings
How the Behavioral Health System Interacts with Child Well-Being
and Father Involvement

The behavioral health system affects father involvement in two main ways.

First, when a child is struggling with behavioral health issues, evidenced-based practices suggest engaging the child’s
family, including the father, in serving the child. One such practice is “collaborative intervention planning.” This
strategy requires behavioral health professionals to “join with family members to develop a plan of intervention
that prioritizes [behavioral health] needs, sets measurable goals and objectives, identifies the interventions most likely to

59
Promoting Children’s Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Health, Center for Social Policy, https://www.cssp.org/policy/papers/Promote-
Childrens-Social-Emotional-and-Behavioral-Health.pdf.
60
See Mental Health by the Numbers, National Association of Mental Illness, https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-By-the-
Numbers.
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succeed [for the child], and specifies who is responsible for each piece of the [plan].” 61 How behavioral health
professionals approach and view fathers can directly affect fathers’ involvement in this type of service intervention.

Second, the behavioral health system affects father involvement through direct service provision to fathers. When any
parent, father or mother, is struggling with behavioral health issues, it can be difficult to fulfill parenting responsibilities.
The behavioral health system helps fathers manage their mental health and maintain their capacity to be available for
their children.

Correlatively, through direct service provision, behavioral health providers in Pennsylvania who serve criminal justice
facilities have played a critical role in facilitating fathers’ access to their children. Statistics from the Philadelphia County
Jail are illustrative. On any given day, 35% of inmates at the jail have a behavioral health diagnosis for which they are
receiving treatment. Many of those inmates undoubtedly have children waiting for them at home. What the statistics do not
tell us however is whether or not by participating in treatment inmates gain additional access to children that may be waiting
for them at home. Additionally, incarcerated individuals may be mandated to participate in these activities as a means for
release, if so, the question becomes what about follow up once they return to the community?

Salient Barriers to Child Well-Being and Father Involvement in


Pennsylvania’s Behavioral Health System

Behavioral health policy makers typically do not prioritize father involvement, and their professional
staff often lack training on how to engage fathers.

Behavioral health professionals too often reduce the role of fathers in the treatment process. Fathers are viewed as unreliable
and their value to the treatment process is underestimated. 62 Further, behavioral health programs are rarely designed to
incorporate fathers. Pennsylvania, for instance, has a few programs that support mothers with children in therapeutic
residential settings, but no similar programs exist for fathers with children. 63 Fathers often are not engaged in the behavioral
health treatment process, thus minimizing their involvement in their children’s interaction with the behavioral health system

Both of these shortcomings in the behavioral health system stem from the same root problem: a lack of awareness among
leaders in the system that fathers are valuable to their children, and children are valuable to their fathers. And both
shortcomings have far-reaching effects.64 The shortcomings not only limit fathers’ direct involvement in treatment programs
for their children but also cause other impediments to father-involvement; fathers’ minimized involvement in the behavioral
health system reinforces familial perceptions that fathers do not have an important role to play in child rearing.

Fathers struggle with stigma when pursuing behavioral health services


Although fathers face mental health challenges, they are hesitant to seek behavioral health services because of
stigma. Fathers are particularly vulnerable to stigma about mental health issues because of cultural expectations
unique to them. It must be noted that some cultures and belief systems simply do not support seeking counseling,
which may have little or nothing to do with stigma. In addition, some people who are ill don’t know that they are ill, thus
don’t seek treatment. Noneth eless in American culture, fathers must appear strong; they must appear in control of their

61
Collaborative Intervention Planning, CBH Knowledge Center, http://www.cbhknowledge.center/collaborative-intervention-planning/.
62
At the Symposium, members of the focus group opined that one possible explanation for professionals undervaluing fathers is that few
professionals are fathers themselves.
63
The behavioral health system, like many other service systems, has not considered the impact on fathers (and children) of fathers being away
from their children, nor has it incorporated accommodations for fathers with children in residential settings. See H. Jean Wright, Psy.D., Director of
Behavioral Health and Justice Related Services, Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health, Behavioral Health Statement (Nov. 18, 2017) (on file with
the authors).
64
Importantly, no specific policy appears to drive this “root cause.” See id. Rather, social norms surrounding the role of fathers and men in
families appear to drive it. See id.
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Child Well-Being in Pennsylvania and the Urgent Need for Father Involvement:
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personal challenges—an expectation that is inconsistent with acknowledging mental health struggles and seeking treatment.
These expectations serve as a major impediment to fathers accessing behavioral health services—especially because the
behavioral health system does not prioritize developing strategies to overcome the expectations.

Main Takeaway
The overarching barrier to father involvement in Pennsylvania’s behavioral health system is a lack of prioritization among
behavioral health entities and staff, notwithstanding that some fathers do not know they need help or simply do not want the
help offered. And formal policies alone do not drive this barrier; perceptions and social norms about the role of fathers seem
to be an equal, if not a principal, driving factor.

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C. Child Support Services and Enforcement
The U.S. child support enforcement system represents a particularly robust governmental effort. In 1975, the U.S. Congress
established the Child Support Enforcement program, a federal-state program designed to secure financial support for children
of non-custodial parents, the majority of whom are fathers.

The Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) is the federal government agency
that oversees the national child support program. OCSE partners with federal, state,
tribal and local governments and others to promote parental responsibility so that
children receive financial, emotional, and medical support from both parents, even
when they live in separate households.

The primary responsibility of the nation’s child support program center around these statutorily-defined functions and
services:

1 Locating noncustodial parents

2 Establishing paternity

3 Instituting child support orders

4 Reviewing and modifying child support orders

5 Collecting child support payments from noncustodial parents

6 Determining and enforcing medical child support

7 Distributing child support payments to custodial parents.” 65

A part of the original program design was “to reimburse the states and the federal government for the welfare payments they
provided families and to help other families obtain consistent and ongoing child support payments from the noncustodial
parent so that they could remain self-sufficient and stay off welfare.” 66

“Over time, the program evolved into a ‘family-first’ initiative that seeks to enhance the well-being of families by making
child support a more reliable source of income.” 67 The nation’s child support system touches the lives of millions of families
and, as of 2017, included around 15.6 million children in the child support caseload.68 According to a 2009 report, Navigating
the Child Support System: Lessons from the Fathers at Work Initiative, one of the many findings included that:

“Research shows that nearly half of all children born in the US today will be eligible for child support before they reach
the age of 18. Many low-income, noncustodial fathers -- who often struggle to make these payments -- will seek
services from workforce development organizations. Yet, understanding the child support enforcement system

65
https://greenbook-waysandmeans.house.gov/sites/greenbook.waysandmeans.house.gov/files/IF10113%20-
%20The%20Child%20Support%20Enforcement%20(CSE)%20Program_0.pdf

66
https://greenbook-waysandmeans.house.gov/sites/greenbook.waysandmeans.house.gov/files/IF10113%20-
%20The%20Child%20Support%20Enforcement%20(CSE)%20Program_0.pdf
67
https://greenbook-waysandmeans.house.gov/sites/greenbook.waysandmeans.house.gov/files/IF10113%20-
%20The%20Child%20Support%20Enforcement%20(CSE)%20Program_0.pdf

68
2016 Infographic, Office of Child Support Enforcement (accessed Dec. 30, 2017):
https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/programs/css/2016_preliminary_report_infographic.pdf.
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can be challenging -- not only for noncustodial fathers but also for other workforce organizations that want
to assist them.
Navigating the child support system is also a formidable challenge to community-based organizations attempting to help
fathers resolve their child support issues.

Non-custodial parents -- usually fathers-- encounter numerous obstacles when dealing with a child support system that treats
many of them as “Dead Beat” rather than “Dead Broke” over issues associated with child support orders, payment and
enforcement.”69

The result is that for well-intentioned “Dead Broke Dads,” the formal child support system can feel like a trap.

Fathers may forgo a formal job because money—up to 65 percent of their paycheck in some states—will be deducted from
their checks. Another scenario is that while fathers are willing to help support their children, they may feel that payments are
too high and don’t allow for their own survival.

Many fathers are ill informed about child support, do not trust “the system” and want to remain outside of it. What they may
not know is that child support enforcement agencies may be willing to negotiate debt, modify orders and suspend enforcement
if the father is cooperative.

“Dead Broke Dads” also view the penalties for non-compliance of child support orders – regardless of ability to pay -- as
punitive. The state can compel non-compliant fathers to pay in a variety of ways, depending upon state policy, by:

• Garnishing tax refunds;

• Freezing and seizing bank or other financial accounts;

• Putting liens on property so that the state can order the sale, for example, of a car, house and/or boat in order to pay
child support;

• Revoking a driver’s license, professional or business license, or a recreational license;

• Refusing to renew a passport;

• Publishing the fathers’ names and the amount they owe on “10 Most Wanted Deadbeat Dads” Internet sites,
when the fathers go to extremes to avoid their child support payments;

• Reporting nonpayment to a parole officer; or

• Arresting and jailing the noncompliant father.

When it comes to encouraging the “emotional support” of children from both parents (a stated goal of the OCSE), the fact
remains that child support funds cannot be used to help fathers – particularly those who are unmarried -- with child access
or parenting time issues. It is no surprise that dads often feel that they are only valued for their financial contributions and
that “emotional support” and their importance in the lives of their children is just lip service.

Child access services affect child well-being because they impact a father’s ability to be involved in the lives of his child(ren.)
Access to both parents is important to child well-being; it ensures a child can access all the benefits that fathers and mothers
have to offer. Illustratively, “[c]ontemporary studies consistently show that children with involved, loving fathers are much
more likely to do well in school; have healthy self-esteem; exhibit empathy and pro-social behavior; and avoid high-risk
behaviors . . . .”70 Likewise, studies also show that children can benefit from their fathers’ pensions, medical records,
insurance policies, and paternal family history to name a few.

69
Debra Pontisso (2017).
70
Guide for Father Involvement in Systems of Care, Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health (April 2013).
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Because the child support enforcement program directly affects so many parents and children, the Symposium devoted
significant attention to it. The experts at the Symposium identified several obstacles in the system to father involvement, but
they identified two barriers as underlying most others:

1. the child support system does not adequately take in to account the financial and life circumstances of
noncustodial parents when establishing a child support order; and
2. the child support system does not assist non-custodial fathers with parenting time and/or child access issues.

Symposium Findings

Key Barriers to Child Well-Being and Father Involvement in


Pennsylvania’s Child Support System

The child support system does not adequately take in to account the circumstances of many
noncustodial parents, e.g. ability to pay.

“Despite popular opinion, most noncustodial fathers do pay child support; and when they do not, most often it is due to an
inability—not an unwillingness—to pay.”71 Often embracing a singular focus on securing financial contributions from
noncustodial fathers, the child support system does not take in to account fathers’ ability to financially contribute. Further,
the child support system does not take in to account other important contributions a father provides, such as the amount of
time (a valuable resource in today’s world) that he spends with his child.

Other possible options could include care and support from family, friends and other support systems of the noncustodial
parent. In fact, if failure to prioritize family finding resources to assist with the safety, permanency and well-being of children
is a federal concern for the nation’s child welfare systems, then why should child support enforcement not consider paternal
family provided resources when computing fathers’ child support financial obligations, e.g., child care provided by the
father’s mother.

In short: (1) fathers are subjected to unrealistic child support orders and (2) fathers who are committed to their children and
want to contribute to their children’s well-being are penalized for failing to provide a specific type of support—financial
support—that they cannot provide.

New regulations promulgated by the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) may have a
positive and profound impact on establishing child support orders based on a non-custodial parent’s actual
ability to pay.

A new and revised federal child support regulation -- Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement Final Rule:
Flexibility, Efficiency, and Modernization in Child Support Enforcement Programs – issued in 2016 includes a
provision that requires state child support agencies to establish orders that are based on a noncustodial parent's ability
to pay (actual earnings) rather than imputed (a guess what they are or should be earning.)

More info on the rule is here on the OCSE website (https://www.acf.hhs.gov/css/resource/final-rule-resources).

The federal timelines for states to comply with some provisions of the rule vary based on state laws. A quick list of
the general compliance dates can be found on the following link:

71
Guide for Father Involvement in Systems of Care, Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health (April 2013) (citing
U.S. Census Bureau, 2006; U.S. General Accounting Office, 1992).
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https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/programs/css/final_rule_compliance_dates_table_1220.pdf.

The success of this new regulation will rest, in part, on the Pennsylvania’s Office of Child Support Enforcement’s
ability to “roll-out” the new provision to the general public and efforts initiated to conduct outreach and training
geared toward those community-based organizations who directly serve fathers.

Child support enforcement penalties are counterproductive; fathers lack necessary information about
their procedural rights.

Child enforcement penalties can be severe—and counterproductive. Noncustodial parents can be held in civil contempt and
jailed, they can be subjected to hefty fines, and they can have various licenses revoked. 72 These types of penalties can thwart
a noncustodial parent’s ability to pay support as well as to play a meaningful role in the child’s life. The child support system
seems to overlook this consequence.

According to the Guide for Father Involvement in Systems of Care:

Often . . . child-serving systems seem to discount the importance of fathers’ involvement. They often seem to treat payment
of child support as the fathers’ only critical responsibility to their children. Financial support is important, but data show
that outcomes for children will improve not by virtue of financial support alone, but also through high quality interactions
between fathers and their children.73

Furthermore, many fathers are unaware of their procedural rights in the child support system. They believe that, if they fail
to comply with their child support obligations, they have no procedural protections allowing them to redress the lack of
compliance. Fathers often have the erroneous belief that if they fall behind on child support payments, they immediately
forfeit their parenting rights. This belief deters fathers from engaging with the child support system to rectify past compliance
failures, and it chills father involvement. (This lack of awareness is an example of a circumstance that the child support
system does not take in to account when interfacing with fathers.)

Fathers do not understand their child support rights because information about their rights is neither disseminated to them in
effective ways nor otherwise publicized. Relatedly, stakeholders in the child support system often fail to engage fathers and
approach them as a resource for children. Fathers therefore often lack supportive relationships with stakeholders within the
system who can educate them about their rights.

Landmark Supreme Court Ruling Impacting Child Support Due Process Procedures in
Civil Contempt Cases

Background:
In 2003, Mr. Turner, the noncustodial parent, was ordered to pay $51.73 per week in child
support. Over the course of several years, he was held in civil contempt for nonpayment on
five occasions and was incarcerated on several occasions.

In South Carolina, each month the family court clerk identifies child support cases in which the obligor has fallen
more than five days behind and automatically initiates a civil contempt hearing. In 2008, under the facts giving rise
to this lawsuit, Mr. Turner was held in civil contempt and served a 12-month jail term. At the hearing, Mr. Turner
was not represented by counsel, nor was a IV-D attorney involved. In ordering that Mr. Turner be jailed, the lower
court did not make any findings on the record regarding Mr. Turner’s ability to pay the entire arrears amount, which
the court set as the purge amount. Mr. Turner subsequently appealed alleging that his rights were violated because

72
See Administration of Justice and Public Safety Statement.
73
Guide for Father Involvement in Systems of Care, Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health (April 2013).
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the due process clause of the 14th Amendment required the state to provide him with appointed counsel in a civil
contempt hearing that could lead to incarceration.

Supreme Court Ruling:


In June 2011, the United States Supreme Court decided the case of Turner v. Rogers. The question in Turner was
whether the due process clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires states to provide legal
counsel to an indigent person at a child support civil contempt hearing that could lead to incarceration in
circumstances where the custodial parent or opposing party was not represented by legal counsel .

The United States Supreme Court held that under those circumstances, the state does not necessarily need to provide
counsel to an unrepresented noncustodial parent if the state has “in place alternative procedures that assure a
fundamentally fair determination of the critical incarceration-related question, whether the supporting parent is
able to comply with the court order.”

The Turner Court indicated that adequate substitute procedural safeguards might include:

 Providing notice to the noncustodial parent that “ability to pay” is a critical issue in the contempt proceeding;
 Providing a form (or the equivalent) that can be used to elicit relevant financial information;
 Providing an opportunity at the contempt hearing for the noncustodial parent to respond to statements and
questions about his/her financial status (e.g., those triggered by his/her responses on the form declaring financial
assets); and
 Requiring an express finding by the court that the noncustodial parent has the ability to pay based upon the
individual facts of the case.

Negative Perceptions of Fathers amongst Mothers can influence Professionals

As supported in the literature and accepted by scholars in the field of Responsible Fatherhood, there is the belief that mothers
can have negative perceptions of a child’s father, as well as negative views of their own fathers when it comes to familial
associations. This negative perception can also impact child support enforcement professionals’ views of the father as well,
thereby exacerbating existing biases towards fathers when they fail to meet court orders.

The Child Support System does not Assist Unmarried, Non-Custodial Fathers with Parenting Time and/or
Child Access Issues
Compared to several decades ago, family formation and structure has changed dramatically over the past three decades
correlating with equally significantly changes in the composition of state child support caseloads.

Fueling this change is the profound increase in the number of parents having children outside marriage – nationwide and in
all states. Changes in family formation have occurred regardless of social-economic and racial divides. In 1990, 29% of the
nation’s children were born to unmarried mothers. That percentage has shot up to 40% of all births in 2016. Unmarried
parents are comprising the majority of most state child support caseloads.

With the passage of welfare reform in 1996 (Personal Responsibility and Opportunity Act) -- which imposed strict time and
work requirements -- only a minority percentage of mothers receiving benefits through the Temporary Assistance for Needy
Families (formerly Aid to Dependent Children) are represented in state child support caseloads.

In addition, non-marital births are a contributing factor to the number of children living in single, female-headed households
without their biological fathers and are at greater risk in growing up in poverty.

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Births to Unmarried Women by Year:

Location 1990 2016

National 1,165,384 or 1,569,796 or


29% of all live 40% of all live
births births

Pennsylvania 49,258 or 56,680 or


29% of all live 41% of all live
births births

Source: Kids Count Data Center, Annie E. Casey Foundation


https://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/tables/7-births-to-unmarried-women
Note: Non-marital birth percentages for these years were higher within the African-American and Hispanic populations

Access to both parents is important to child well-


being; it ensures a child can access all the benefits that
fathers and mothers have to offer. Illustratively, Federal research has demonstrated that when
“[c]ontemporary studies consistently show that unmarried fathers are provided increased access to
children with involved, loving fathers are much more
their children (e.g., court-connect parenting time
likely to do well in school; have healthy self-esteem;
exhibit empathy and pro-social behavior; and avoid
order or agreement, mediation, etc.), they are more
high-risk behaviors . . . .”74 Likewise, studies also likely to increase child support payment and/or
show that children can benefit from their fathers’ comply with child support orders.
pensions, medical records, insurance policies, and ( https://oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-05-02-00300.pdf)
paternal family history to name a few.
Based on this finding, the Obama Administration
Unmarried parents represent a special challenge for
the child support program when it comes to supporting repeatedly contained a provision in its Annual
father involvement in the lives of their children as Proposed Budgets to Congress that would have
compared to divorced parents. required state child support agencies to offer
unmarried parents the opportunity to voluntarily
First, when parents are married and then divorce, they develop parenting time agreements at the time a child
typically mediate their parenting time and child
support order was being established.
support disputes through a family court system. The
system sets forth parenting plans, issues child support
orders, and offers parent-education services; and Unfortunately, it failed to be acted upon by Congress.

Second, divorced parents interact with the system


when they seek to revisit parenting plans and child
support orders which the system set forth immediately
after the divorce.

Unfortunately, unmarried parents do not have an automatic “on ramp’ to court-connected custody and parenting time
services because their non-marital status does not require them to go through the court to dissolve their relationship since it
was not formalized through marriage. With the dramatic increase in non-marital births, nationwide, this is an issue that
requires attention from policy-makers since it contributes to father absence. Without a legal parenting time plan or order, an
unmarried father does not have the legal grounds to enforce “visitation” with his children if the mother prevents it.

74
Guide for Father Involvement in Systems of Care, Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health (April 2013).
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The flow chart on the following page, which was distributed at the Symposium, offers a visual example of the institutional
processes or “disconnects” faced by unmarried fathers – compared to divorced fathers -- as it relates to establishing legal
parenting time rights.

Many state child support enforcement agencies, however, do help unmarried, non-custodial fathers with child access
issues by using non-child support funds to do so.

Grants to States for Access and Visitation (AV):

As part of the welfare reform legislation, Congress authorized “Grants to States for Access and Visitation” as part of the
Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. This federal grant program has been operational
since FY 1997 and an estimated $280 million has been made available to States, to date, based on a funding formula.

This grant program is one of the major funding sources used by various state child support agencies to fund services that help
noncustodial parents gain increased access to their children. And while this grant program is located within and administered
by the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement, it has a separate funding source and, if states should decide to do so,
could be used to address the parenting time needs of noncustodial fathers in the child support caseload.

 Statutory Goal: to enable States to establish and administer programs to support and facilitate noncustodial
parents’ access to and visitation of their children, by means of activities including:

o mediation (both voluntary and mandatory),


o counseling,
o parent education,
o development of parenting plans,
o visitation enforcement (including monitoring, supervision and neutral drop-off and pick-up), and
o development of guidelines for visitation and alternative custody arrangements

 Approximately $10 million is appropriated annually for the Access and Visitation (AV) Program, which provides
funding to all 54 states and territories based on a statutorily-defined funding formula.

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 States may administer programs funded with the grant directly or through grants to or contracts with courts, local
public agencies, or nonprofit private entities.

 Bottom Line: States are responsible for collecting data (annually) on parents served in addition the extent to which
the funded services have directly or indirectly increased non-custodial parents’ access to and visitation with their
children.

In Pennsylvania, the state entity delegated administrative responsibility for the AV Grant Program, happens to be the Office
of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE.) Therein lies the opportunity to use these grant funds to provide child access services
to non-custodial fathers in the state’s child support caseload.

Last but not least, the federal OCSE encourages child support professionals to collaborate with community-based
organizations serving fathers by pointing out that:

 Effective collaboration between child support and responsible fatherhood programs is essential in promoting child
well-being and better child support outcomes; and

 Child support programs are uniquely positioned to serve fathers because caseworkers have direct contact with
noncustodial fathers and can connect them to responsible fatherhood-related programs and services.

OCSE has also recommended the following strategies for child support staff:

 Refer parents to fatherhood programs;


 Answer child support related questions from fatherhood staff and participants;
 Provide individualized case management and assistance;
 Welcome opportunities to collaborate and partner;
 Visit fatherhood programs and give presentations on child support processes; and
 Develop a deeper relationship with fatherhood program staff.

Source: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/css/child-support-professionals/working-with/fatherhood

Main Takeaway
The child support enforcement program and service system have a major impact on child well-being and father involvement.
The system, however, often overlooks fathers’ circumstances and obstacles to family engagement, to the detriment of child
well-being.

Fathers want to be a part of their children’s lives and they want to provide for their children. Often, though, they are unable
to do so because of financial limitations, leading to Draconian consequences that limit a father’s access to his children, and
his own ability to care for himself and contribute to society.

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D. Dependent, Delinquent and Crossover Children and Youth
Pennsylvania’s child welfare system faces many challenges. Hiring difficulties, inadequate training, and heavy caseloads to
name a few.75 In an effort to address such challenges, the system has undergone major reforms over the past few years. 76
Yet one significant challenge has received limited attention: biases within the system that limit the full involvement of both
parents of a child in child protective services. The system does not equally integrate fathers and mothers into its processes.
It prioritizes mother involvement while overlooking the benefits of father involvement.

In addition to the proven benefits to children of having strong positive relationships


with both of their parents, there are important implications for the failure to
appropriately involve fathers in the care of children involved in the child welfare
system. For example, studies indicate that the active participation of the father and
his compliance with the case plan of a child in foster care increases the likelihood
that a child’s stay in foster care will be brief and that the child will reunify with his
or her parents.77 Moreover, when children struggle with delinquency (i.e., engage
with the justice system), the involvement of their entire family, including fathers, is
critical to a successful outcome.78

Children who have contact with both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems are commonly referred to as Crossover
Youth.79

Challenges related to the involvement of fathers in assuring the safety, permanency, and well-being of youth in the child
welfare system have been identified, debated, and discussed by practitioners in the system for years. 80 But little progress has
been made in practice in addressing the issues that prevent fathers from playing an active role in the child welfare system.
Further, there has been only haphazard effort to identify empirical evidence regarding the factors and strategies that impact
the engagement of fathers in interventions relevant to child protective services. 81

On the other hand, significant research has determined that child protective services traditionally emphasize only the
involvement of mothers despite evidence that the presence of an involved father serves as a protective factor, at times even
enhancing the ability of the mother to be an effective parent. 82 The Symposium’s roundtable on Dependent, Delinquent, and
Crossover Youth confirmed that this research is consistent with the workings of the child welfare system in Pennsylvania.
The roundtable identified gender inequities in the system as one of a few salient barriers to child well-being and father
involvement. The participants in the roundtable included public and private professionals with years of experience in
Pennsylvania’s child welfare system.

Symposium Findings

How the Child Welfare System Interacts with Child Well-Being and Father Involvement

75
State of the Child, A Special Report by the Auditor General of Pennsylvania (September 2017).
76
Id.
77
Coakley, TM, Examining African American fathers’ involvement in permanency planning, Children and Youth Services Review, 2008; 30(4)
407–17.
78
Family Involvement in Pennsylvania’s Juvenile Justice System, Family Involvement Workgroup of the Pennsylvania Council of Chief
Juvenile Probation Officer’s Balanced & Restorative Justice Implementation Committee, 2009; 5.
79
“Crossover Youth”: The Intersection of the Child Welfare System and Juvenile Justice, The Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (Dec. 24,
2017): http://jjie.org/2012/11/15/crossover-youth-intersection-of-child-welfare-juvenile-justice/.
80
Gordon, et al., Engaging fathers in child protection services: A review of factors and strategies across ecological systems, Children and
Youth Services Review 2012 34 (8; 1399–1417).
81
Id.
82
O’Donnell, et al., Fathers in Child Welfare, Child Welfare 2005; 84(3) 387–414.
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The child welfare system directly interacts with thousands of children in Pennsylvania each year. The system is responsible
for protecting these children and securing for them safe, stable homes. Most of the system’s direct involvement with children
and their families is through county-level children and youth services and contracted service providers.83 The county children
and youth services agency typically (1) evaluate and screen child-protection referrals, (2) investigate referrals, (3) determine
whether intervention is warranted after an investigation, and (4) when necessary, assign caseworkers, remove children from
their homes, or both.84

How the child and youth services system approach interventions directly impact father involvement. When a father is not
living in the home, the agencies can, for example, take steps to locate the father and utilize his input and resources in the
intervention process. Alternatively, the agencies within the system can forego locating the father, in which case father
involvement would almost be non-existent.

The child welfare system also affects father involvement in a less direct way. In serving children, the child welfare system
serves parents. For example, it provides programming and interventions to help parents achieve the stability necessary to
provide a safe home for their children. Further, the system acts as a referral source to connect parents with services in other
systems. Through such services and referrals, the child welfare system can help position mothers and fathers to be involved
in their children’s lives.85

Salient Barriers to Child Well-Being and Father Involvement in Pennsylvania’s


Child Welfare System

Biases among professionals.

Within the child welfare system, gender inequities exist because father involvement, more often than not, is undervalued
among child welfare professionals. Traditionally, child welfare professionals have prioritized mother involvement,
incorporating mothers into the child-protective processes early on and making mothers the focal point of child reunification
plans. Efforts to involve fathers in these steps, however, are limited. This inequity interferes with engagement of fathers and
reinforces values that prioritize the mother’s role in child development over that of the father. The inequity also undercuts
the rights of fathers. As Justice Max Baer of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has stated, “fathers have the same
responsibilities and, importantly, the same rights as mothers.” 86

Negative perception of fathers amongst mothers can influence professionals.

In many cases, mothers have negative perceptions of a child’s father, as well as negative views of their own fathers when it
comes to familial associations. This negative perception can impact child welfare professionals’ views of the father as well,
thereby exacerbating existing biases towards father involvement. Intertwined with this barrier is the significant caseloads
that professionals have with limited time to evaluate a family’s circumstances. Professionals may place undue weight on the
mother’s perception of the father in an effort to quickly implement a child’s case plan for safety, permanency and well-being.

Failure to prioritize family finding.

Family finding is an evidenced-based model for locating all members of a child’s family who can assist with the child welfare
process and improve the child’s well-being.87 The child-welfare system allocates limited resources to family finding. As a

83
See State of the Child, A Special Report by the Auditor General of Pennsylvania (September 2017).
84
Id.
85
As noted in the Behavioral Health Statement in this report, fathers need, but often fail to receive, mental health and other services. The
Dependent, Delinquent, and Crossover Youth roundtable echoed this finding.
86
Child Well-Being in Pennsylvania and the Urgent Need for Father Involvement, Symposium Booklet (Sep. 27, 2017) (on file with the
authors).
87
What is Family Finding and Permanency, Family Finding (Dec. 10, 2017): http://www.familyfinding.org/.
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result, the system often fails to take the threshold step for achieving father involvement locating fathers. This barrier intersects
with the anti-father bias among child welfare professionals and often negative perceptions of mothers regarding fathers.

Fathers, more often than mothers, need to be located. Unless father involvement is an intentional priority, professionals will
not be motivated or supported to engage in family finding.

Heavy caseloads.

When combined with child welfare professionals’ tendency to prioritize mothers, heavy caseloads serve as a significant
barrier to father involvement efforts. Professionals have limited time and resources due to large caseloads and are inclined
to use their scarce time and resources for facilitating better parenting skills and increase of resources to sustain mother
involvement with the child.

Main Takeaway
Various forces within the child welfare system undercut father involvement. Underlying these forces is an inequitable view
of father involvement, a view that fathers have less to contribute to the child welfare process. This bias leads professionals
who have limited time and resources to focus their efforts on mother involvement without corresponding efforts to involve
fathers. Both mothers and fathers should be incorporated into child welfare efforts, the system should strive for equity and
full parental involvement, thus removing gender inequity as a barrier.

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E. Early Childhood Development
Early childhood education is a branch of education theory which relates to the teaching of young children, formally and
informally, from birth until the age of eight. Early childhood educational services delivered to three- and four-year-old
children, typically happen in preschool programs. 88

The services address, among other things, literacy, numeracy, cognitive development, socio-emotional development, and
motor skills.89 Studies show that early childhood education has far-ranging benefits, including greater long-term earnings,
lower likelihood of future incarceration, and greater educational attainment.90

Recognizing these benefits, the federal and Pennsylvania governments have developed several programs designed to deliver
early childhood education. The federal government’s Head Start program, for example, allocates money to states to help
them provide early childhood education to low-income youths.91 Moreover, Pennsylvania has an Office of Child
Development and Early Learning which focuses on creating opportunities for the state’s youngest children to access
educational services.92

Notwithstanding, there are many issues within the early childhood


development system that may limit fathers from taking an active role in
their child’s early education. The early childhood field is predominately
comprised of women. In instances when both parents are present during
a conversation, a father may perceive that the early childhood
professional may focus their attention on the mother due to the prior
limited participation of the father. Granted, many times the relationship
has solely been with the mother, in the absence of the father. Another
example is when early childhood centers may pause to secure
documentation; ensuring permission to share with the non-custodial
parent. As a result of this, the non-custodial parent may perceive the feeling of inferiority or disconnection from the child.

Father involvement can greatly enhance the benefits of early childhood education. A study by the Father Involvement
Research Alliance shows that babies with more involved fathers are more likely to be emotionally secure, confident in new
situations, and eager to explore their surroundings. 93 Also, toddlers with involved fathers have higher cognitive functioning
at age 3, and are more ready than other children to start school and cope with the stress of being away from home all day.

But father involvement during early childhood is not just important to a child’s development; it is also important to fathers—
it helps establish healthy patterns of father involvement. For many children, early childhood education is their first formal
schooling experience. Therefore, it is often where patterns of family involvement and parents’ educational roles are
established.

If, for instance, a father tries to participate in his child’s early childhood education process but finds navigating the process
difficult, he may be relegated to serving a secondary role in his child’s education thereafter. Thus, feeling welcomed and
able to navigate the early childhood education system is paramount to a father becoming and staying involved with his child
during this educational period.

88
Early Childhood Education, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (January 28, 2018):
https://www.cdc.gov/policy/hst/hi5/earlychildhoodeducation/index.html.
89
Id.
90
Early Childhood Education, National Education Association (January 28, 2018): http://www.nea.org/home/18163.htm.
91
Office of Head Start, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (January 28, 2018): https://www.acf.hhs.gov/ohs.
92
Office of Child Development and Early Learning Resource Page, Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (January
28, 2018): http://www.ocdelresearch.org/default.aspx.
93
The Effects of Father Involvement: An Updated Research Summary of the Evidence, The Father Involvement Research Alliance (January 28,
2018): http://fira.ca/cms/documents/29/Effects_of_Father_Involvement.pdf.
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The importance of fathers on the well-being of children starts even earlier than birth. Research shows that when fathers are
involved in prenatal care maternal negative health behaviors diminish and risks of pre-term birth, low birth weight, and fetal
growth restriction is significantly reduced.94

Research also shows that girls with involved fathers have higher self-esteem, and teenage girls with involved fathers are less
likely to become pregnant.95 Further, boys who are close to their fathers are less aggressive, less impulsive, and demonstrate
more self-direction.96 “As young adults, children of involved fathers are more likely to achieve higher levels of education;
find success in their careers; have higher levels of self-acceptance; and experience psychological well-being.”97 In addition,
adults who had involved fathers are more likely to be tolerant and understanding, have supportive social networks made up
of close friends, and have long-term successful marriages.98

Unfortunately, even though father involvement in early childhood education can foster long-term father involvement, the
Early Childhood Education Roundtable at the Symposium found that Pennsylvania’s early childhood education system has
difficulty in engaging fathers because fathers are not always available to participate. In addition, fathers express that they do
not understand how to navigate the system and are less likely to engage with it. Therefore, the charge before us, is to determine
how best to promote activities that engage fathers while at the same time helping them gain a better understanding of the
system.

Symposium Findings

How the Early Childhood Education System Interacts with Child Well-Being
and Father Involvement

The early childhood education system parallels the broader education system in how it interacts with child well-being and
father involvement. The early childhood education system jumpstarts a child’s development, helping her/him to develop the
skills s/he needs to succeed in primary and secondary school. Early childhood education fosters strong cognitive
development, socio-emotional development, and motor-skills development

And as noted above, early childhood education sets the tone for parent involvement throughout the child’s development.
Because early childhood education is the first formal educational experience that most children have, it lays the foundation
for how a child and their parents approach the education system, including how involved each parent is or is likely to be.

Key Barriers to Child Well-Being and Father Involvement in Pennsylvania’s


Early Childhood Development System

 Fathers do not feel welcome.

 Early childhood education providers have difficulty engaging fathers.

94
A community perspective on the role of fathers during pregnancy: a qualitative study, National Institute of Health (February 10, 2018):
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3606253/.
95
Why Kids Need Their Dads, Parenting (February 10, 2018): http://www.parenting.com/article/why-kids-need-their-dads.
96
Id.
97
Id.
98
The Effects of Father Involvement: An Updated Research Summary of the Evidence, The Father Involvement Research Alliance (January 28,
2018): http://fira.ca/cms/documents/29/Effects_of_Father_Involvement.pdf.

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 Fathers generally do not know how to navigate the early childhood education system. A contributing factor is that
typically early childhood services are provided during standard work hours when many fathers are at work. More
thought should be given to considering nontraditional hours for services so that both parents can be involved in
learning how to support their children in their early childhood development.

Main Takeaway

In conclusion, it has been identified that parental roles begin to be established at the early childhood education stage. While
early childhood educators foster an environment that includes both parents, removing the barriers discussed above is still
imperative to long-term father involvement.

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F. Education

The importance of education cannot be overstated. Education is critical to children achieving financial stability: according
to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the more education a person has, the higher his/her earnings and the lower their chances of
becoming unemployed.99 And equally important, education is critical to our communities.

Governor Tom Wolf recently underscored this, stating: “I should care about the education
a child in Philadelphia, or Pittsburgh, or Erie, or Scranton received because if they didn’t
get a good education my life is diminished, and all our lives are enhanced if they get that
good education. It is a shared enterprise and we need to recognize that.” 100 In other words,
an educated citizenry is critical to a community’s economic and social well-being, so we
should all strive to educate our children.101

Because education is so critical to our children and communities, Pennsylvania affords


children a variety of education rights. For starters, the Pennsylvania Constitution includes an education clause, which requires
the state to “provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education.” 102 In other
words, the Pennsylvania Constitution requires the state legislature to provide for a robust system of public education. Beyond
this requirement, Pennsylvania requires equal access to education. The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act prohibits
discrimination in Pennsylvania’s public schools.103

These laws are important to educational outcomes in Pennsylvania, but they alone do not secure successful outcomes.
Education is complicated. A litany of factors is important to educational outcomes, including school leadership, teacher
quality, school funding, socio-economic status, and parental involvement. For example, a recent report by the U.S.
Commission on Civil Rights, found that, because of school funding inequities, Black and Latino students across the country
attend schools that “do not provide an equitable education.”104

Further, according to a Columbia University Teacher’s College study, over forty years of evidence show that (1) parent
involvement is one of the strongest predictors of educational success and (2) families play pivotal roles in their children’s
cognitive, social, and emotional development from birth through adolescence. 105 For these reasons, the U.S. Department of
Education -- since 2008-- has commissioned a “Family Engagement Team” to facilitate greater parent involvement in
education.106

Despite the importance of parent involvement, the Education Roundtable at the Symposium concluded that many
Pennsylvania parents are disconnected from the public school system. According to the professionals who participated in the
Roundtable, parental disconnect is the primary barrier within the public-education system to child well-being and father
involvement. The Roundtable identified several issues that contribute to this disconnect.

Symposium Findings

How the Education System Interacts with Child Well-Being and Father Involvement

99
Unemployment Rates and Earnings by Educational Attainment 2016, Bureau of Labor Statistics (Jan. 7, 2018):
https://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm.
100
Tom Wolf, AZ Quotes (Jan. 7, 2018): http://www.azquotes.com/author/58483-Tom_Wolf.
101
See Tom Wolf, Why It’s Essential for Pa. to Invest in Education, The Philadelphia Tribune.
102
Pa. Const. Art. III, § 14.
103
See Pa. 43 P.S. § 955.
104
Maria Danilova, U.S. Education ‘Profoundly Unequal,’ Report Says, The Philadelphia Tribune (January 12, 2018).
105
Carrie Jasper, Family & Community Engagement Presentation, U.S. Department of Education. (On file with authors.)
106
Id.
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The education system not only provides children with the tools they need to succeed in our economy but also provides them
with the skills necessary to navigate adolescence. Schools teach children how to manage relationships, how to self-advocate,
how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and more. In serving this function, schools play a critical role in child well-being.

Schools are also critical to child well-being because of the sheer amount of time children spend in school. Most of a child’s
youth is spent in school buildings. Therefore, schools are inextricably intertwined with child well-being. A stressful or
unhealthy school environment means stressful or unhealthy experiences for children.

And because schools are central in a child’s life, they are central to father involvement. A father cannot be meaningfully
involved in his child’s life if he cannot be involved in the child’s education.

Key Barriers to Child Well-Being and Father Involvement in


Pennsylvania’s Education System

School staff lack training and understanding necessary to engage fathers.

Throughout the various systems of care for children, there are biases that affect engagement with fathers. The education
system is no exception. Social norms for years have resulted in mothers serving as the primary parent to interface with
schools. Consequently, school staff have limited experience interfacing with fathers, and they are saddled with biases about
the value of father involvement in a child’s education.107 This leads to fathers feeling unwelcome in the school setting or,
alternatively, not receiving the support they need to play a meaningful role in their child’s education.

Parents deterred from involvement by information asymmetry

The education system can be intimidating. Teachers, principals, and other school staff use technical language and possess
significant knowledge about the education system that parents often lack. This information asymmetry can deter parental
involvement in schools. Parents feel out of their element in schools, and rather than playing an active role in their child’s
education, disengage and completely defer to educators. Fathers are particularly susceptible to this type of disengagement
given they have historically had a limited role in the education system.

Parental relationships can impede father involvement

When parents’ relationship is unclear or undefined, it can be difficult for schools to involve both parents. Unaware of a
particular parent’s custody rights, for example, schools are incentivized to engage solely with a different parent, a parent that
they know has decision-making authority. Because of this dynamic, unclear or undefined parent relationships serves as a
barrier to father involvement.

107
See Dr. Richard Jeffrey Rhoades, Symposium Facilitator’s Report (September 24, 2017). (On file with authors.)
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Main Takeaway

Parental disconnect is the key barrier within the education system to child well-being and father involvement. A number of
factors contribute to this barrier, including biases within the system and information asymmetry.

In addition, there are many instances of parents misunderstanding the role of educators in interactions with their children.
There is a common view that when Johnny is in school, the teacher needs to handle the behaviors. Re-establishing role
responsibilities would be a key element here.

Educators undoubtedly care about our children. But parents often do not feel empowered by the education system, leading
to disengagement and disconnect. Considering the research showing that parental involvement in education has substantial
benefits for child outcomes, combatting this barrier through extended family engagement strategies that are inclusive of
fathers should be a priority for the Pennsylvania Department of State, as well as the 500 school districts within the
Commonwealth.

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G. Employment and Training
The Employment and Training Roundtable during the Symposium concluded that fathers face unique challenges when it
comes to employment opportunities and responsible childhood rearing experiences. Many of these challenges, however, are
no different than those experienced by mothers.

For example, being able to afford to take adequate leave time when a new child is born, receive a livable wage with
advancement possibilities, and be in a position to get licensed in a field of employment of choice. These challenges are well
known. Fathers are less likely to be able or willing to take leave when a new child is born, and fathers often face humiliation
from their peers if they choose to limit their work hours to prioritize childcare. 108

The root of these challenges is well known, as well: stereotypes about fathers being breadwinners and mothers as caretakers.109
According to the Roundtable, Pennsylvania, like many other states, struggles with the challenges and the stereotypes
underlying many sub-group populations within our culture.

Parental access to desirable employment opportunities correlates directly with child well-being.
For example, “[r]esearch finds that low-quality jobs,” including “those with low pay, and irregular
hours, or few or no benefits,” are “linked with higher work-related stress for parents, which in
turn, detracts from children’s wellbeing.”110

Further, when work requires “frequent or long separations,” parents’ bonding with their children
can be impeded,111 and when consistent parental supervision is lacking, children’s performance
in school suffers and children engage in increased risky behaviors. 112 And of course quality
employment opportunities are critical to parents accessing the financial resources needed to raise
their children.

Recognizing this relationship between employment and child well-being, policy makers, parent activists, child advocates,
scholars, and others have pushed for policies that help working parents effectively manage both their job and parental
duties.113 Such policies include Child Tax Credits and the Earned-income Tax Credit to offset child-care costs.114 In
addition, the Family Medical Leave Act allows parents to take time off work when a child is born and when a child is in
need of medical care.115 Finally, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act protects pregnant women from discrimination at
their jobs.116

Notwithstanding these various policies, there are parents, especially too many fathers, who have even a greater challenge—
that of overcoming their experience with the criminal justice system. Nationally between 70 million and 100 million, or 1 in
3 Americans, have some type of criminal record. The Center for American Progress’s National Employment Law Project
cites that having a minor record, including an arrest that never led to conviction can stand in the way of nearly every building

108
Claire Cain Miller, Paternity Leave: The Rewards and the Remaining Stigma, N.Y. Times (November 7, 2014).
109
See id.
110
Carolyn J. Heinrich, Parents’ Employment and Children’s Wellbeing, 24(1) Future of Children 121, 123 (2014). “The effects of parents’
work-related stress on children are particularly strong for single-mother families.” Id.
111
Id.
112
Id. at 124.
113
See, e.g., Daisy Wademan Dowling, The Best Ways Your Organization Can Support Working Parents, Harvard Business Review (March 3,
2018): https://hbr.org/2017/01/the-best-ways-your-organization-can-support-working-parents; Olga Khazan, The Plight of Single Moms—and the Policies
that Would Help, The Atlantic (March 3, 2018): https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/01/the-plight-of-single-moms-and-the-policies-that-
would-help/283037/; Child-Care and Paid-Leave Policies that Work for Working Parents, American Enterprise Institute (March 3, 2018):
http://www.aei.org/publication/child-care-and-paid-leave-policies-that-work-for-working-parents/.
114
Child-Care and Paid-Leave Policies that Work for Working Parents, supra n.4.
115
Family and Medical Leave Act, U.S. Department of Labor (March 3, 2018): https://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/.
116
Pennsylvania Maternity & Family Medical Leave Laws, Growing Family Benefits (March 3, 2018):
https://www.growingfamilybenefits.com/pennsylvania-state-maternity-leave-laws/.
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block of economic security, including employment, housing, education, family reunification, and even public assistance. 117
Criminal background checks, for example, are used by 66% of colleges, 87% of employers, and 80% of landlords. 118

One of the contributing factors to the lack of securing employment opportunities for many is the current collision of two
trends that have been decades in the making. The first trend stems from “tough on crime” and mass incarceration, and the
second trend is the dramatic expansion of occupational licensing, which requires people to obtain permission from a
government agency, and commonly pass a background check before they can work. The result: “More than 70 million people
with a record in the United States either face significant barriers when seeking a license to work, which is now required for
one in four jobs, including many good-paying jobs that are in high demand in healthcare and other industries, or—even
worse—they are automatically disqualified, sometimes for life.”

In other words, those with a record carry with them a potential wrecking ball to employment prospects and economic
stability.119

An effect of these trends on children and families is that we as a nation are witnessing about 2.8 million children in the U.S.
(1 in 28) with a parent behind bars, up from 1 in 125 just a quarter century ago. Moreover, 1 in 9 African American children
have an incarcerated parent, a rate that has quadrupled in the last 25 years.

And research tells us that children with incarcerated parents are more likely to drop out of school and to struggle with speech
problems or a learning disability, developmental delays or ADHD, physical health problems, and mental health problems
such as anxiety and depression, even after controlling for environmental factors, race, and other characteristics.

117
News You Can Use: Research Roundup for Reentry Advocates, Center for American Progress, National Employment Law Project [NELP],
October 2017.
118
Clean Slate Advocacy Toolkit, prepared by Community Legal Services of Philadelphia and Center for American Progress, October 2017.
119
Fair Change Licensing Reform: Opening Pathways for People with Records to Join Licensed Professions, National Employment Law
Project, October 2017.

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Also, children with incarcerated parents are nearly 4 to 6 times more likely to be expelled or suspended from school than
other children. The economic effects are salient, too. Family income falls 22% when a father is placed behind bars—and
remains 15 % lower in the year after release. Also, nearly 2 in 3 families were unable to meet basic needs such as food and
housing due to the financial burden of incarceration. 120

The U.S. Supreme Court has long held that “[i]t is undoubtedly the right of every citizen of the United States to follow any
lawful calling, business, or profession” he or she may choose.”121 However today, more than 25% of U.S. workers require a
License or Certification before they can work in their occupation. That percentage is up dramatically from about 5% in the
1950’s. Some of the fastest growing occupations in America require a license. Six of the 10 fastest growing professions are
in health care support or personal care, e.g. occupational therapy assistants, physical therapist assistants, physical therapist
aids, home health aides, nurse practitioners, and physical therapists. Yet, state licensing laws set up major barriers to
employment for people with records, totaling over 27,000 state occupational licensing restrictions. Of those, over 12,000 are
for individuals with any type of felony, over 6,000 are based on misdemeanors, over 19,000 are permanent disqualifications,
and over 11,000 are mandatory disqualifications, taking one fourth of the economy off the eligible table. 122

In America, employment restrictions account for 65% of the statutory and regulatory disqualifications arising from a prior
felony conviction.123

Pennsylvania state data reveal that:124

Estimated Percentage Percent of Percent of Number Percent Number of


Number of of Adult Workforce Occupations of People Change Disqualifications
People with Population Licensed by With Lower Released of People for a Record in
Arrest or with State Incomes from Released State
Conviction Records (2015) Requiring a Prison from Occupational
Records (2014) License (2015) 2000 to Licensing Laws
(2014) (2012) 2015
1,899,100 19% 20.2% 43% 20,847 77.3% 489

Roundtable discussion participants recognized the work that many within the Commonwealth are doing to resolve the issue
of full employment and training for those in need. In that regard, both Representative Jordan A. Harris and Representative
Sheryl M. Delozier were acknowledged for their sponsorship of HB 1419 (Clean Slate), a bill that provides for automatically
sealing certain criminal records so that they are not available to the public but can still be accessed by law enforcement. This
legislation is supported by a broad bipartisan coalition of legislators and organizations. More specifically, under Clean Slate,
the following are automatically sealed when people have remained free of misdemeanor and felony convictions for a set
period of time:

 Misdemeanor convictions (except for violent and sex offenses) – 10 years


 Charges that did not result in convictions – 60 days

120
News You Can Use: Research Roundup for Reentry Advocates, Center for American Progress, National Employment Law Project [NELP],
October 2017.
121
Dent v. State of W.Va., 129 U.S. 114, 121 (1889).
122
Fair Change Licensing Reform: Opening Pathways for People with Records to Join Licensed Professions, National Employment Law
Project, October 2017.
123
Licensed to Work: A Policy Brief on Illinois’ Use of Probation and Reprimand against New Licensees with Arrest and Conviction, Council
of Advisors to Reduce Recidivism through Employment, Safer Policy Institute, Safer Foundation. October 2017.
124
Fair Change Licensing Reform: Opening Pathways for People with Records to Join Licensed Professions, National Employment Law
Project, October 2017.
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Clean Slate also expands sealing in Pennsylvania to first-degree misdemeanors. What’s most important about Clean Slate is
any offense that is sealed need not be reported to employers, landlords, or others. They also cannot be used to deny state
occupational licenses.125 For Clean Slate to have its maximum effect all justice system data bases must embrace the same
policy, otherwise there is the chance that an offender’s record could still be accessed through another state’s data base or that
of the FBI through national background checks.

In summary, the employment and training system interacts with child well-being and father involvement in a variety of ways.
As noted above, low-quality jobs and the collateral consequences on employment from the criminal justice system affect
child well-being by limiting access to critical financial resources, by increasing parental stress, and by dictating parental
access to their children.

Symposium Findings
The Key Barriers to Child Well-Being and Father Involvement in Pennsylvania’s
Employment and Training System

Blue-collar jobs often do not support parental involvement

Many Pennsylvania fathers are employed in blue-collar jobs. Such jobs often have rigid requirements that prevent fathers
from having the flexibly necessary to manage their parenting responsibilities. As stated in the Oxford Handbook of Work
and Family, “[M]en in hourly jobs . . . face . . . great challenges in managing the demands of work and family because of
inflexible and inconsistent schedules.”126 The Handbook further stated, work-family oriented policies are “nearly inaccessible
to individuals in lower wage, front line, blue-collar jobs.”127

Occupational Licensing and Certification for those who have been incarcerated

Across the nation, people with arrest and conviction records face overly restrictive barriers to entering licensed professions.
However, in Pennsylvania there is increasing evidence that some policymakers want to remove unnecessary disqualifications
and require fair consideration of people with records.

Humiliation of working Fathers who prioritize their time with their children over producing Family
Income

Because of stereotypes about fathers focusing on work and serving as breadwinners, it is difficult for fathers to prioritize
childcare and seek, paternity leave and work hours that revolve around their parental duties. Further, the types of jobs that
are conducive to managing both work and parental responsibilities are typically held by women—there seem to be inequitable
distribution of such jobs between men and women.

Lack of intentional focus on father-child-family relations in employment and training programs

Although fathers face unique challenges, as do mothers, in employment, their having to balance work and parenting
responsibilities are not as well understood. Employment and training programs in Pennsylvania do not intentionally focus on
fathers and family matters.

125
Clean Slate Advocacy Toolkit, prepared by Community Legal Services of Philadelphia and Center for American Progress. October 2017.
126
Tammy D. Allen, Lillian T. Eby, The Oxford Handbook of Family and Work 447 (Oxford University Press 2016).
127
Id.
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Main Takeaway
The major barrier to father involvement in the employment and training system is biases ingrained in the system that cast
fathers as breadwinners, rather than caretakers. These biases influence employment policies, making it difficult for
fathers to prioritize parenting and childcare.

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H. Housing, Supervised Independent Living, and Homelessness

Housing, supervised independent living, and homelessness are separate, but related, public policy areas. They all involve
people’s access to safe, stable housing—which is critical to “the well-being and health of families.”128 The housing system
encompasses affordable housing programs, such as the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, and other efforts to
foster broad access to housing. The supervised independent living system provides housing services to youths who are
transitioning out of foster care, youths who are delinquent, and youths experiencing major life changes like pregnancy.
Typically, the system serves young adults who are age 17 to 21, providing them apartment settings and life skills programming
to facilitate a successful transition to independent living. 129 Finally, policymakers within the homelessness system seek to
decrease the number of homeless individuals by helping them transition to not only long-term housing but also long-term
employment. In Pennsylvania, there are Homeless Assistance Program Services in counties across the state. 130

Together, these systems affect countless children and families in Pennsylvania. For example,
according to a University of Chicago study on Philadelphia, in a single night in Philadelphia
in August 2016 there were 569 young people ages 13–25 who were homeless and 269 young
people residing in shelter or transitional housing. 131 Further, over 216,000 households in
Pennsylvania receive federal rental assistance. 132

Faced with limited resources and substantial need, the housing, supervised independent living,
and homelessness systems must prioritize their areas of focus. Affordable housing programs must have income cutoffs,
supervised independent living programs must concentrate on certain groups of youths, and homelessness programs must
focus on certain populations.

The Symposium’s Housing, Supervised Independent Living, and Homelessness Roundtable determined that, in Pennsylvania,
a major barrier to child well-being and father involvement within the housing, supervised independent living, and
homelessness systems is simply a failure to prioritize father involvement. The systems are well-positioned to promote father
involvement, and in turn child well-being, but they do not taken advantage of this opportunity. This lack of prioritization
manifests primarily in the systems failing to train and educate staff about the value of father involvement and how to engage
fathers. In turn, staff are left without the subject matter competence to facilitate father involvement.

Symposium Findings

How the Housing, Supervised Independent Living, and Homelessness Systems Interacts with
Child Well-Being and Father Involvement

Safe, stable housing is critical to all people—especially children. Children require stability to focus on their education and
development. Housing instability imposes stresses and uncertainty on children that can destabilize their personal growth.
Research confirms this. Data drawn from a sample 6,000 families with children under age four living in Massachusetts, for
example, show that children whose families had moved two or more times in the past year were 59% more likely to have
been hospitalized than were children in housing-secure families.133 Moreover, families who were behind on their rent were

128
Stable Housing, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity (February 10, 2018): https://www.jhsph.edu/research/centers-and-institutes/johns-
hopkins-center-for-health-equity/about/influences_on_health/stable_housing.html.
129
See Supervised Independent Living, Children’s Service Inc. (February 10, 2018): http://csichild.org/sil/.
130
Homeless Assistance Programs, Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (February 10, 2018):
http://www.dhs.pa.gov/citizens/homelessassistance/.
131
Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania Youth Experiencing Homelessness, Chapin Hall at University of Chicago Voices of Youth County (on
file with authors).
132
Pennsylvania Fact Sheet: Federal Rental Assistance, Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (February 10, 2018):
https://www.cbpp.org/sites/default/files/atoms/files/4-13-11hous-PA.pdf.
133
Stable Housing is Unequivocally Good for Children and Families, New America (February 10, 2018): https://www.newamerica.org/asset-
building/the-ladder/stable-housing-is-unequivocally-good-for-children-and-families/.
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more likely to struggle to feed all members of the households adequately, to have had utilities shut off, and to forgo needed
health care for a child.134 Children from these families were 52% more likely to be at risk for developmental delays. 135

Further, the housing, supervised independent living, and homelessness systems play a central role in father involvement for
families passing through the systems. The systems can dictate a child’s household composition, thereby affecting access to
fathers. Affordable housing programs, for example, can exclude certain individuals from public housing based on past
criminal history or other criteria. These criteria in turn can exclude fathers from their child’s home.

Key Barriers to Child Well-Being and Father Involvement in Pennsylvania’s Housing,


Supervised Independent Living, and Homelessness Systems

Homelessness programs do not prioritize father involvement.

The primary focus of homelessness programs in Pennsylvania is securing housing for women with children. In other words,
the programs limit the assistance they provide to women and children. This is partly a consequence of policies against non-
married persons being couples together in shelters. Because of these policies, children are often separated from fathers during
their time in homelessness programs.

And this lack of prioritizing fathers manifests in other ways, too. When single mothers, for example, enter a shelter there is
usually little conversation about the child’s father. Though the transitional housing process presents an opportunity to foster
the resources that fathers can offer to their children, this opportunity is not often taken advantage of due to pass experiences
with the system.

Staff are not at fault, though, for this. Programs neither instruct staff to engage fathers nor educate staff on how to do so.
Consequently, staff do not have the tools necessary to spearhead conversations about fathers and facilitate father involvement
during the homelessness process.

Supervised independent living programs do not pursue father involvement.

Supervised independent living staff often assume that youth in the programs do not have family supports. This assumption
prevents staff from reaching out to fathers (or mothers) regarding discharge plans for the youths. The consequences of this
failure to engage fathers and mothers can be devastating; lacking familial support, the youths can become homeless
immediately.

Staff struggle with biases about fathers.


In all three systems—housing, supervised independent living, and homelessness—staff struggle with biases about fathers,
and the biases compound the lack of prioritizing of father involvement. One prominent bias is that fathers are unsupportive
and will pose physical and emotional risks to mothers and children. Because of this and other biases, rather than engaging
fathers, staff seek to replace them with mentors for children. Again, staff are not at fault, though, for this issue; they are not
educated and trained about the benefits of fathers.

Main Takeaway
The housing, supervised independent living, and homelessness systems have a difficult task. They must address critical
housing needs with limited resources. This requires prioritization. Unfortunately, the systems do not prioritize father
involvement or take steps to ensure subject matter competence about fathers and the value of father involvement.

134
Id.
135
Id.
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I. Parent Education and Support Services
The importance of parenting education and support services to building strong families cannot be overstated. Studies have
revealed an array of benefits: (1) improved parental empowerment and competency, (2) improved child behavior, (3)
improved parent-child interactions, (4) improved parental mental health and well-being, (5) decreased risk of child abuse, (6)
increased social connections, and (7) more effective parenting practices. 136 It is
unsurprising, then, that there are countless parenting education and support services
programs in Pennsylvania. The programs range from the Parent Action Network, which
provides support groups for parents, to the Parent-Child Home Visiting Program, which
helps parents of young children prepare the children for transition to school, to
Educating Communities for Parenting, which provides parenting workshops to teen
mothers and fathers.137

Parenting education and support services in Pennsylvania are delivered both directly by the state and by private providers
who receive state or federal funding. The state provides some parenting education and support services programs directly,
such as through the Department of Human Services’ Family Centers. 138 The Centers provide, among other things, adult
education, job training and placement, literacy programs, parenting skills programs, toy and book lending libraries, summer
and after-school activities, and child care programs. 139 However, most parenting education and support services programs
are provided by private organizations that receive state or federal funding.

While many of Pennsylvania’s parenting education and support services programs do phenomenal work for families, several
barriers exist within this system to child well-being and father involvement. The key barriers include emotional disconnect
between mothers and fathers, lack of institutional focus on strengthening bonds between fathers and children, difficulties
engaging fathers and finding times to convene parenting classes, and discriminatory policies and practices within the system.
The driving theme underlying these barriers is a theme that pervades other systems as well: a failure to prioritize father
involvement.

Symposium Findings

How the Parenting Education and Support Services System Interacts with Child Well-Being and
Father Involvement

Parenting education and support services are critical to providing parents the tools they need to raise their children and to
serve as consistent, productive parents.

Parenting is a complex and multifaceted issue; success in parenting requires not only a variety of skills but also financial and
social resources. Parents, for example, must exhibit love and affection, stress-management skills, relationship skills, and
sound judgment.140 Parents must also have access to social networks that can provide child care, meet financial needs, and
provide emotional support. Parenting education and support services help parents with achieving these skills and resources.

136
The Benefits of Parenting Education, Wilder Parent Education Center (February 11, 2018): https://www.wilder.org/Wilder-
Research/Publications/Studies/Incredible%20Years/The%20Benefits%20of%20Parenting%20Education%20-
%20A%20Review%20of%20the%20Literature%20for%20the%20Wilder%20Parent%20Education%20Center.pdf.
137
Various Parenting Resources, Cap 4 Kids (February 11, 2018): http://cap4kids.org/philadelphia/parent-handouts/parenting-foster-care-
adoption/various-parenting-resources/.
138
Preventive Services: Family Centers, Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (February 11, 2018):
http://www.dhs.pa.gov/citizens/findfacilsandlocs/preventiveservicesfamilycenters/.
139
Id.
140
10 Skills of Competent Parents, Leelanau Children’s Center (February 11, 2018): https://www.leelanauchildrenscenter.org/98/articles-and-
reading/10-skills-of-competent-parents.
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Parenting education and support services also have the capacity to fulfill another important need for parents: providing them
the skills necessary to work cooperatively with each other to raise their children. Parenting education and support services
can help parents build a cooperative bond that allows them to work as an effective team in raising their child. 141

Key Barriers to Child Well-Being and Father Involvement in Pennsylvania’s Parenting


Education and Support Services System

Emotional Disconnect between Mothers and Fathers

Most people accept as a fundamental principle that children come into the world with certain basic and developmental needs.
The immediate primary needs are food and shelter, physical safety, and emotional security.142 Children cannot protect
themselves from an aggressive external environment, they need caring adults to provide safety, keep them from harm and
defend them against those who would threaten or attack them. Typically, this type of protection is provided by the child’s
parents who are in love with one another and look forward to building a caring family. When children grow up with one or
more emotionally detached or absent parents, there are a number of consequences, including affected adult relationships
stemming from early childhood experiences or trauma; fear of attachment and love; borderline and narcissistic personality
traits; selfishness; substance abuse/dependency; lack of identity and direction; and lose of hope, faith, and joy.143 Emotional
disconnect between fathers and mothers also impedes the effectiveness of parenting education and support services.
Teamwork and connectedness can be a major asset to parenting education.

Lack of institutional focus on strengthening bonds between fathers and children

Throughout the parenting education and support services system there is a lack of focus on strengthening bonds between
fathers and children. Father involvement and engagement is not identified as an important issue. While programs focusing
on fathers exist, father involvement and engagement is not an overarching goal of the various programs in Pennsylvania.
This contrasts with mother involvement—an issue that is implicit in most programming.

Difficult to engage fathers and find times to convene parenting classes

Engaging fathers can be difficult because they are often non-custodial parents. Consequently, parenting education and
support service providers find it difficult to coordinate meeting times and classes with fathers. This, of course, is a barrier
that can be overcome if providers were given adequate resources for engaging fathers, most importantly the time to devote
effort towards doing so. However, engaging fathers is not a priority in most programs, so providers lack such resources.

Discriminatory policies and practices within the system

Embedded in the parenting education and support services system is a bias towards mothers. Programs are “mother-facing”
meaning they are designed to assist mothers, often overlooking fathers. For example, outreach efforts generally target
mothers, without equal targeting of fathers. Further, many staff are saddled with biases about fathers that chill efforts to
engage fathers.
Main Takeaway
The major barrier to father involvement in the parenting education and support services system is the system’s failure to
prioritize father involvement. This failure permeates the system. It results in a lack of focus by direct service providers on

141
Indeed, some states like Florida offer programs specifically on cooperative parenting. See Child Welfare, Florida Department of Children
and Families (February 11, 2018): http://www.dcf.state.fl.us/programs/childwelfare/stabilization/online.shtml.
142
The Needs of Children, Changing Minds (February 26, 2018): http://changingminds.org/explanations/needs/children_needs.htm.
143
Tamahra Hill, MS, LPC, 7 Consequences of Having an Emotionally Detached Parent, Psych Central (February 26, 2018):
https://blogs.psychcentral.com/caregivers/2016/03/7-consequences-of-having-an-emotionally-detached-parent/.
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services that strengthen bonds between mothers and fathers as well as father and children. It results in policies and practices
in the system that disadvantage fathers. And it results in staff members not having the resources necessary to engage fathers.

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J. Public Health
“Public health promotes and protects the health of people and the communities where they live, learn, work and play.” 144
Public health professionals encourage healthy behaviors, raise awareness about diseases and psychological stressors, and
provide preventative medical care.145 They attack problems that undermine the health of our communities through a multi-
faceted approach, leveraging empirical research, public campaigns, medical professionals, and community organizations.

Pennsylvania, like most states, has a statewide Department of Health as well as local
departments.146 These departments conduct public health research and organize public
health initiatives. The state Department of Health, for example, is currently working to
raise awareness about Pennsylvania’s opioid epidemic. 147 And the Allegheny County
Health Department recently released a task force report on combatting lead poisoning. 148

Regarding the question, how the public health system can better interact with fathers to
improve the well-being of children, we know that the public health system has the capacity
to explore further how father involvement impacts the health of children in a variety of ways, according to PEDIATRICS,
the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

For example, fathers affect child outcomes within each phase of a child’s development, starting with early childhood through
adolescence as follows:

 Father Involvement in Early Childhood Years:

 Associated with positive child developmental and psychological outcomes over time, i.e., at 3 years of age,
father-child communication is more often than not a significant and unique predictor of advance language
development in the child, whereas mother-child communication is not.
 By age 9 there is a decrease mental health symptomatology when fathers are more involved in caring for, playing
with, and communicating with their child during infancy.

 Preschoolers and Fathers’ Engagement:

 There is an inverse association with child behavioral trajectories, such that more father involvement during a
child’s preschool years is accompanied by less maladaptive behavior.
 The influence of involved fathers may compensate for the negative influence of material depression (e.g.,
reduced responsiveness to a child’s socioemotional needs), thereby reducing the risk of problem behaviors and
development.

 Father Involvement during Adolescence


 Associated with a decrease in the likelihood of adolescent risk behaviors (even more strongly for boys), and
predictive of less adolescent depressive symptoms for both genders.
 Correlates with enhanced cognitive development, reduced behavioral problems in male adolescents, decreased
psychological problems in female adolescents, and decreased delinquency and economic disadvantage in
families of low socioeconomic status.

144
What is Public Health? American Public Health Association (Apr. 22, 2018): https://www.apha.org/what-is-public-health?
145
Id.
146
See, e.g., Pennsylvania Department of Health (Apr. 22, 2018): http://www.health.pa.gov/Pages/default.aspx#.Wtz919PwbjC; Allegheny
County Health Department (Apr. 22, 2018): http://www.achd.net/mainstart.html; City of Philadelphia Department of Public Health (Apr. 22, 2018):
http://www.phila.gov/health/.
147
The Opioid Epidemic, Pennsylvania Department of Health (Apr. 22, 2018):
http://www.health.pa.gov/My%20Health/Diseases%20and%20Conditions/M-P/opioids/Pages/default.aspx#.Wtz85tPwbjA.
148
Lead Exposure in Allegheny County, Allegheny County Health Department (Apr. 22, 2018): http://www.achd.net/lead/index.html.
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 Early Father Involvement with Daughters
 Associated with a decreased risk of early puberty, decreased early sexual experiences, and decreased teen
pregnancy.
 Associated with improved cognitive development, social responsiveness, independence, and gender role
development.

In short, from a research perspective, fathers’ contributions can now be viewed beyond their traditional stereotypical role of
disciplinarian, breadwinner, and masculine role model to that of care provider, teacher, joint role model for parenting, and
supportive spouse.149

Thus, fathers can provide invaluable socio-emotional, as well as financial resources to their children. When children are
denied these resources, they can suffer deleterious health consequences.

THE COMMISSION believes that the absent father, or the non-involved father, in the life of his child should be defined as a
public health challenge, requiring the application of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) formula for addressing social
determinants of health (SDOH) by researching for disease affects, injury prevention, education, and policy change. 150

The Public Health Roundtable highlighted father absence as a public health concern as well, notwithstanding however, that
the issue is not often characterized as such in this country.

Symposium Findings

The public health system has the capacity to be a potent force in educating and strengthening child well-being and father
involvement. Often, public education is the first and most important step, towards eradicating risky behaviors and decisions
that jeopardize children’s health. Public health professionals specialize in such awareness-raising. Further, they possess the
medical knowledge to craft specific policy solutions to localized public health issues.

Because of the expertise it possesses, the public health system and its workers can be an asset for achieving greater father
involvement. A variety of social, cultural, and economic factors impact father involvement; a public health approach can
address this diverse array of factors. 151 Indeed, a number of innovative, public-health strategies for reaching fathers are
“currently under investigation, including use of behavior change models, motivational interviewing, mobile technologies,
peer support groups, and policy advocacy efforts.” 152 And these strategies “show promise in effectively engaging fathers and
improving family health.”153

One arena for the public health system to look to for systemic answers to the question of how best to increase father
involvement, and therefore achieve better futures for children, is the National Healthy Start Association with its strategies
and recommendations for the future. Here are a few examples of the Association’s strategies and recommendations:

 Increase the conversation and build awareness of how important it is for children to have involved, responsible, and
committed fathers in their lives.

149
Fathers’ Role in the Care and Development of Their Children: The Role of Pediatricians (2016).
150
Social Determinants of Health: Know What Affects Health, Center for Disease Control and Prevention (May 8, 2018):
https://www.cdc.gov/socialdeterminants/.
151
Brandon S. Allport et al., Promoting Father Involvement for Child and Family Health, Academic Pediatrics (Apr. 22, 2018):
http://www.academicpedsjnl.net/article/S1876-2859(18)30163-3/abstract.
152
Id.
153
Id.
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 Mandate agencies to look at the varying roles of fatherhood and develop concrete, programmatic ways to support
men in fulfilling these roles in the lives of children that they biologically procreate or in the lives of the children that
they accept parental responsibility for.

 Create opportunities for men that allow them to discuss lessons learned, give advice, and share wisdom that can be
passed on to others.

 Include men, especially young men, in reproductive health initiatives and encourage them to create a reproductive
life plan.

 Create "father-friendly environments" in the settings where men interact. This includes involving practitioners and
ensuring that they are equipped to reach fathers at their points of need with fatherhood skill-building materials
designed just for them.

Continue these conversations with communities, funders, government agencies, nonprofit organizations and others on what
is needed to strengthen families. It is important to build on the framework of public health organizations that have been
working to create a national agenda around fathers and male involvement over the years. There are a number of groups that
have this issue as their primary strategy; therefore, partnerships are essential to moving this effort forward. Including
fathers and men in the public health agenda is essential to improving maternal and child health.154

Key Barriers to Child Well-Being and Father Involvement in Pennsylvania’s


Public Health System

Failing to view father involvement as a systemic public health issue

The dominant narrative, according to the Public Health Roundtable, regarding child well-being and father involvement is that
fathers are motivated by varying degrees of individual challenges and situations that are often not tied directly to child and
family health. In other words, father involvement is viewed as an issue driven by individual occurrences, rather than systemic
forces. Because father involvement is not viewed as a systemic issue, it is not viewed as an issue warranting the attention of
the public health system—a system that focuses on widespread, complex issues affecting community health.

Insufficient public health educational initiatives about the detriments of father disengagement

Perhaps as a consequence of our tendency to view father disengagement as an individual, rather than systemic, problem,
public health agencies do not have robust initiatives to educate communities about the benefits of father involvement, and
correlatively, the detriments of father disengagement. For example, the Pennsylvania Department of Health lists no programs
or services on its website that are focused specifically on fathers. 155

Education about the detriments of lack of father involvement must be disseminated aggressively, similarly to the way that
cigarette smoking was causally connected to lung cancer and chronic bronchitis. The lack of father involvement can be
causally connected to problems that impact society on multiple levels and take a tremendous toll on individual’s families and
communities.

Main Takeaway
154
Fatherhood Brief, National Healthy Start Association (May 8, 2018):
http://www.nationalhealthystart.org/site/assets/docs/NHSA_Fatherhood_Brief.pdf.
155
Programs and Services, Pennsylvania Department of Health (Apr. 22, 2018): http://www.health.pa.gov/Your-
Department-of-Health/AllProgramsAndServices/Pages/ProgramsAndServicesHome.aspx#.Wt0JK9PwbjB.
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The major barrier to father involvement in the public health system is the failing of the system to view father absence or
father-non-involvement as a systemic public health issue. When fathers are disengaged, the prevailing view is that the
father is consumed with individual challenges and/or situations that are not tied directly to child and family health. In other
words, system professionals are less inclined to view the disengagement of fathers as a systemic issue that can, and should,
be addressed with a multi-faceted, public health approach.

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K. Issues Across Systems
The Symposium Roundtable Discussion Statements and Editorial Reviews revealed that there are several barriers to child
well-being and father involvement:

 Stigmatization
 Hesitation to seek services
 Recognition of individual circumstances and obstacles
 Gender Inequities
 Inability to Navigate Systems
 Parental Disconnect
 Men casted as breadwinner, rather than caretaker
 Not targeted for service
 Emotional (spousal) Detachment
 Individual occurrences, not systemic force

However, a barrier not mentioned that undergirds all of the Roundtable discussion topics is the use of attribution theory156
when attempting to explain the absence or non-involvement of fathers in the lives of children. In general, many of our service
delivery systems view fathers as synonymous with the word problem, attributing family struggles to fathers and casting
fathers as irresponsible rather than as individuals facing a number of systemic barriers.

For example, the criminal justice system sees fathers as having broken the law, offended someone, or as emotionally
unstable. Therefore, when fathers interact with the criminal justice system, they are stigmatized and lack the support
necessary to serve as effective role models for their children.

Fathers’ inability or hesitation to seek behavioral health services because stigma is seen as an individual problem rather
than a problem stemming from social expectations about manhood.

Men who are not taking care of their families are often seen by the child support system as negative influences in society,
rather than individuals who may be struggling financially due to systemic employment barriers.

Children typically come into the child protective service system for two reasons: child abuse or neglect. More often than
not, they are removed from single parent households where there is not a father present. In that regard, line workers who
service these children and families frequently witness the trauma experienced by both mother and child. Too often without
knowing all of the facts, fathers who are not present receive the full blunt of the criticism for the circumstances that the child
and families find themselves in.

Because early childhood education is the first formal educational encounter that most children experience, it lays the
foundation for how a child and their parents approach the education system, including how involved each parent is or is likely
to be. Fathers not involved in the child’s education, especially when there are problems, are seen themselves as the problem.

Parental involvement is one of the strongest predictors of educational success, and families play pivotal roles in their
children’s cognitive, social, and emotional development from birth through adolescence. When children are not achieving in
education, and fathers are not around to assist with homework, etc., fathers are typically seen as a contributing problem to
the child’s lack of achievement.

156
Attribution theory, Encyclopedia Brittanica (May 31, 2018): https://www.britannica.com/science/attribution-theory.
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Moreover, fathers who are not working and contributing to the well-being of their children and families are seen as dead-beat
dads, and unworthy of the concept of a caring and loving father, especially if they are not engaged in an employment and
training program.

Having a criminal justice system minor record, including an arrest that never led to conviction can stand in the way of nearly
every building block of economic security, including employment, housing, education, family reunification, and even public
assistance. Thus, a minor record reinforces the notion that fathers who are deviant in their behavior, including responsibilities
to their families are not worthy for targeted limited public services.

The importance of parenting education and supportive services to building strong families cannot be overstated. Children
cannot protect themselves from an aggressive external environment, they need caring adults to provide safety, keep them
from harm and defend them against those who would threaten or attack them. Typically, this type of protection is provided
by the child’s parents who are in love with one another and look forward to building a caring family. When children grow
up with one or more emotionally detached or absent parents, there are a number of consequences, including affected adult
relationships stemming from early childhood experiences or trauma; fear of attachment and love; borderline and narcissistic
personality traits; selfishness; substance abuse/dependency; lack of identity and direction; and lose of hope, faith, and joy.
When a father is not present and active in his child’s life, blame is often placed on the father for these types of outcomes,
rather than considering why the father is not present.

Perhaps as a consequence of our tendency to view father disengagement as an individual, rather than a systemic problem,
public health agencies do not have robust initiatives to educate communities about the benefits of father involvement, and
correlatively, the detriments of father disengagement. In other words, father involvement is viewed as an issue driven by
individual occurrences (personal to the individual), rather than systemic forces (affecting us all). Because father involvement
is not viewed as a systemic issue, it is not viewed as an issue warranting the attention of the public health system—a system
that focuses on widespread, complex issues affecting community health.

This tendency to view fathers as the source of a family’s problems is not the only issue that is present across systems. There
are several others:

 Failure to prioritize father involvement.

This barrier appears in some form in every system discussed at the Symposium. Father involvement is often an afterthought
in the various systems, if at all. Leadership, staff, or both fail to value father involvement. This failure manifests in either a
dearth of programs designed to address fathers’ unique needs and a general failure to include fathers in the service delivery
needs of their children.

 Biases about fathers.

Biases exist in every facet of society. Many of Pennsylvania’s social service systems are no different. Systems
discussed at the Symposium had biases about fathers embedded in them. Most apparent is a tendency to undervalue
the importance of father involvement. Historically, the systems have mainly interfaced with mothers, so the systems
have limited experience with fathers and the value they can add to child well-being.

 Lack of training about fathers.

Fathers have unique needs. Their interactions with social service programs, the criminal justice system, the labor
market, and the child-support systems impose barriers to their efforts to serve as role models and caretakers. To
facilitate father involvement, social service systems must first understand these barriers and fathers’ unique needs.
However, across systems, there is limited training offered to leadership and staff designed to provide them with such
an understanding.
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 Systems operate in silos.

A recurring theme at the Symposium was systems operating in silos. The systems do not collaborate on the issues
of child well-being and father involvement. Perhaps the most telling example involves the criminal justice system
and child support enforcement. Systems like behavior health, child welfare, early child development, education,
employment and training, housing, parent education, and public health can be helpful in increasing better outcomes
for children by not missing opportunities to partner with the criminal justice system to improve the outcomes of
fathers reentering society.

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L. Conclusion – What Does This All Mean?

Pennsylvania faces a variety of barriers to father involvement and child well-being, but the state is well-positioned to not only
overcome these barriers but also become a national leader in the movement to increase father presence and greater father
involvement.

People and organizations across Pennsylvania are motivated to change policies and practices that impede father involvement.
The Symposium underscored this. Academics, social service providers, nonprofit leaders, legislative staff, elected and
appointed public officials, and others came together to identify barriers to father involvement and to recommend solutions
for overcoming the barriers.

This energy and desire to increase father involvement is an invaluable resource for Pennsylvania. As this Report discussed,
perhaps the greatest barrier to father involvement is simply the failure of Pennsylvania’s systems to prioritize it. Addressing
this barrier requires people across the state to talk to their colleagues, elected officials, friends, and family members about
the importance of father contributions to the well-being of children and families.

And now, in addition to this energy and desire to increase father involvement, Pennsylvania has this Report which will
hopefully serve as a guide to the barriers to father involvement in the state and a roadmap for overcoming the barriers.
Leveraging this Report, stakeholders in Pennsylvania, such as THE COMMISSION and its partners, can ensure that
Pennsylvania fulfills its potential as a national leader in engaging fathers to become one of its best assets for helping to raise
children.

It is incumbent upon all of us who care about child well-being to assist with this pursuit of removing systemic barriers that
impede greater father involvement and brighter futures for our children.

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VI. Summary Recommendations
The recommendations that follow are designed to address the barriers to father involvement in Pennsylvania. The Symposium
Organizing Committee recognizes that these 10 over-arching categories may have inadvertently missed other “systems of
care” in Pennsylvania that touch the lives of fathers, children and their families and may need to be included at some other
point in time.

The recommendations are based not only on insights gleaned from the Symposium but also research into social science studies
and best practices.

A. Administration of Justice and Public Safety:

 The three branches of government are encouraged, respectively, to factor fatherhood into state legislation,
judicial rulings and department regulations.

Prospectively, when legislators draft criminal laws, they should consider the effects of punishment on offenders’
children, as well as the offenders’ ability to serve prospectively, as an effective parent. State government
agencies should consider fathers’ potential contributions when forming regulations regarding safety,
permanency, well-being and reunification. Similarly, Judges should consider fatherhood when issuing rulings
in criminal cases.

B. Behavioral Health:

 The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services is encouraged to consider a Paradigm shift that recognizes
the importance of fathers in behavioral health treatment and services.

Behavioral health systems should recognize and integrate into their service delivery models the overwhelming
evidence that responsible and involved fathering, starting from the prenatal period and into adolescence, has
positive effects on the well-being of children.

To achieve this paradigm shift, behavioral health organizations should launch a public campaign showcasing
the immeasurable value of a father in a child’s life. Further, behavioral health organizations should hold annual
trainings on the importance of father involvement. This will not only signal to staff that father involvement is
a priority but also afford staff the tools necessary to facilitate father engagement as an inclusive strategy.

C. Child Support Services and Enforcement:

 The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, Bureau of Child Support Enforcement, is urged to adopt
the following recommendation:

 Improve better data collection and exchange about father income

Child support courts and the child support enforcement program should work on resolving the lack of a
sufficient data exchange that can result in the unnecessary incarceration of fathers for alleged non-payment
of child support orders.

 Reform policies impacting father credit reports

Reassess current policies that adversely impacts a father’s credit report in those cases where he may be
paying part but not the full amount owed.

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 Expand Outreach about new federal regulations

The Pennsylvania Child Support Agency should consider expanding its outreach or “roll-out” strategy that
includes targeting organizations directly serving fathers regarding how it will implement the new and
improved changes in federal child support regulations.

 Training for community-based organizations

The Pennsylvania Child Support Agency should be encouraged to conduct training for community-based,
father- and family-support organizations on child support issues and to schedule on-site meetings with non-
residential parents who have issues regarding their individual cases.

 Designate a contact person(s) to facilitate outreach and interagency coordination

In order to institutionalize interagency program coordination at the local level, the Pennsylvania Child
Support Agency should consider designating a contact person in each county office of child support that
community-based fatherhood and family support organizations could contact when dealing with clients
who have child support issues.

 Adopt family-centered program initiatives

The Pennsylvania Child Support Agency should be encouraged to adopt some or all of the “Family-
Centered” program initiatives outlined by the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement. This could be
achieved by partnering with existing community-based organizations serving fathers, families and children.

 Utilize Federal Child Access and Visitation (AV) Grant Funds

Since the Pennsylvania State Child Support Agency administers the Federal AV Grant Program, it should
utilize these funds to provide services to unmarried fathers in the child support caseload that have parenting
time & child access issues.

D. Dependent, Delinquent, and Crossover Children and Youth:


 The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services should intentionally ensure that gender equity is a priority
and is up-held in both the work and service delivery environment to families served.

 Prioritize gender equity

Both mothers and fathers should be incorporated into child welfare family services. The system should
strive for equity and full parental involvement, thereby removing gender inequity as a barrier.

 Proper resource allocation

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services should identify the necessary resources to improve its
next federal Child and Family Service Review (CFSR), as none of the seven CFSR Outcomes was found
to be in substantial conformity with the federal regulations. In addition, only five of the seven systemic

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factors were found to be in conformity. 157 Going forward a corrective action strategy should be developed
and implemented to ensure that Pennsylvania meets all of the CFSR “Outcomes and Systemic Factors.”

E. Early Childhood Development:

 The Pennsylvania Department of Education policies should be explicit in supporting the involvement of
fathers in services to children and families.

Prioritize making fathers feel welcome. The early childhood education sector should do all that it can do
to welcome fathers in early childhood education centers and other educational environments so that
fathers can seamlessly begin to navigate this system with their children and form solid working
relationships with their teachers and staff.

The State should mandate that early childhood education agencies receive technical assistance to determine
their preparedness for Father Involvement. More specifically, early childhood education centers should
have one person designated to develop projects and initiatives geared towards welcoming fathers and
providing fathers information on how to navigate the centers. In cases where a center is unable to meet the
expectation of providing a designed person to ensure that the environment is always welcoming to fathers,
the state has a duty to provide reasonable support to fulfill this mandate

F. Education:

 The Pennsylvania Department of Education should implement state-wide Family Engagement Strategies
that are inclusive of fathers.

Encourage Counties to implement District-wide family engagement strategies that are inclusive of fathers.
Considering the research showing that parental involvement in education has substantial benefits for child
outcomes, combatting the barrier of parental disconnect through extended family engagement strategies that are
inclusive of fathers should be a priority for the Pennsylvania Department of Education, as well as the 500 school
districts within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

G. Employment and Training:

 House Bill 1419 (Signed into Law by Governor Wolf on June 28, 2018, Act No. 56)

Pennsylvania House Bill 1419 (Clean Slate), now Act 56, automatically provides that certain criminal records
are not available to the public, but can still be accessed by law enforcement. This legislation was supported by
a broad bipartisan coalition of legislators and organizations.

Although this legislation has passed and has been signed by the Governor, the legislature should provide
guidance to stakeholders, the general public and employers regarding the significance of this landmark
legislation. These communications should include timeframes of implementation, limitations and/or exceptions
to this law relative to federal and national background checks, included and excluded offenses, but most
importantly the benefits to the public, employers and housing entities.

157
Child and Services Family Reviews Pennsylvania Final Report 2018 (May 27, 2018):
http://www.dhs.pa.gov/cs/groups/webcontent/documents/document/c_268503.pdf.
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H. Housing, Supervised Independent Living, and Homelessness:

 The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services should incorporate a Two-Generation Approach to child
well-being across the Commonwealth.

Pennsylvania should Support a Two-Generation Approach to child well-being by Developing and Strengthening
Partnerships across Early Childhood and Housing Programs and Systems.

A Two-Generation approach aims to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty by addressing the needs of
both children and parents. This requires aligning and coordinating the design and delivery of services for the
whole family, so both generations can experience improved physical and mental health, safety, educational,
and economic outcomes.158

I. Parent Education and Support Services:

 The appropriate program oversight parties should be encouraged to provide necessary resources to establish
parent education programming that is specifically inclusive of fathers.

Engaging fathers can be difficult for a number of reasons, i.e. conflict in work schedules, child care not defined
as their role, or father is non-custodial and is not in a healthy working relationship with the child’s mother or
care provider.

Consequently, parenting education and support service providers find it difficult to coordinate meeting times
and classes with fathers. This, of course, is a barrier that can be overcome if providers were given adequate
financial resources for engaging fathers, and training for staff as to how best to engage them.

J. Public Health:

 The Pennsylvania Department of Health should adopt father absence and non-involvement as a public health
issue and raise awareness throughout the Commonwealth of its importance to the children and families, as
well as the community at-large.

Education about the detriments of lack of father absence and non-involvement must be disseminated
aggressively. Similar to the way that cigarette smoking was causally connected to lung cancer and chronic
bronchitis, the lack of father involvement can be causally connected to problems that impact society on multiple
levels and can take a tremendous toll on families and communities.

Pennsylvania must move to identify father absence and father non-involvement as a public health issue
worthy of research, prevention, public education, and policy change.

A first, concrete step that public health organizations in Pennsylvania can take is creating pages on their websites
devoted to father involvement and discussing the social consequences of father absence as a public health issue.

158
Policy Statement on Meeting the Needs of Families with Young Children Experiencing and At Risk of Homelessness (May 27, 2018):
https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/ecd/echomelessnesspolicystatement.pdf.
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VII. Continuing the Work: Next Steps

A. Three Branches of Pennsylvania State Government: The Importance of Taking Leadership

Various attitudes, policy and procedural impediments exist to the successful recognition of the importance of fathers to the
proper development of their children.

The key to the successful implementation of strategies requires effective endorsement by the three branches of the
Pennsylvania State Government. Following are recommendations offered for consideration by each branch.

 The General Assembly is encouraged to consider adoption of a Concurrent Resolution agreeing that prospective
legislation regarding children and families will recognize, foster and promote the value of fathers’ contribution to
the well-being of their children.

 The Governor is urged to issue an Executive Order that directs all Commonwealth departments and agencies to
acknowledge the value of fathers and to strive to be inclusive of fathers in the development and administration of
children and family programs.

 The Supreme Court is requested to promulgate rules and procedures for the unified judicial system to ensure that
fathers’ rights receive equal consideration and review in determining the best interests of the child and family.

B. An Appeal to the Symposium’s Organizing Planning Committee and All Father, Child and
Family Stakeholders
Just as we need the support of the three branches of Pennsylvania State Government to support gender equity within family
matters and to remove systemic barriers to contributions that fathers can make toward the well-being of their children, we
also need the citizens of the Commonwealth, especially those who were involved with initiating the Symposium to continue
the goal of creating here in Pennsylvania an on-going entity that will partner with the government to make sure that all
Pennsylvanians are treated equitably and that our children are the benefactors of such practice.

In that regard it is proposed that the Symposium Organizing Community (SOC) continue to exist until a formal statewide
entity is established that will work to ensure that the recommendations of this report are implemented and a sustaining entity
is identified or formed with a mission to provide the leadership necessary to develop, implement, and administer a statewide
plan with the goal of reducing systemic barriers that impede Father Involvement and their contributions to the wellbeing of
children throughout the family care network of agencies within the Commonwealth.

C. The Launch of the 2018 Campaign for Brighter Futures for Our Children… …Through
Greater Father Involvement (Scheduled for October 17-18, 2018)
C.
After a successful and historic bipartisan and bicameral Legislative sponsored symposium, as acclaimed by all, verbally and
in writing, the Symposium Organizing Committee was faced with identifying the next steps beyond just writing a Proceedings
document.

In that regard, it was determined that the work of the 2017 Inaugural Symposium on Child Well-Being in Pennsylvania and
the Urgent Need for Father Involvement must continue toward building a larger network of father, child and family advocates
for the purpose of “bringing to light something that has been in the dark, far too long, . . . that is the Absence or non-

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involvement of too many Fathers in the Care of their Children and Families and to shine a spotlight on the consequences of
that absence.”159

Notwithstanding the above heartfelt purpose that brought the Symposium Organizing Committee together in the first instance,
the Committee also affirmed as its overarching goal, the encouragement of Commonwealth investment in every child’s
developmental growth, and the elimination of all systemic barriers that impede every father’s desire to contribute more to his
child’s well-being.

Given the reality of father, child and family advocates who operate in silos, the Organizing Committee added as a goal for its
2018 gathering, a convening of such advocates to highlight the urgent need for greater paternal participation within the lives
of children and families.

Therefore, the Committee has moved forward with the scheduling of a follow-up statewide
conference entitled “Pennsylvania 2018 Campaign for Brighter Futures for Our
Children…Through Greater Father Involvement” scheduled for October 17-18, 2018. It
will be held at the Pennsylvania Child Welfare Resource Center in Mechanicsburg,
Pennsylvania.

(For additional information and/or to register for the conference, go to: www.soc18.org]

The Committee sees a convening of such a group as an opportunity for stakeholders across the Commonwealth to work
collaboratively to strategize and identify ways for all interested parties to be more supportive of the role that fathers play in
the care of their children.

It is anticipated that Convening Participants would depart with a willingness to serve as catalysts raising the consciousness
of government, philanthropic, corporate, community, civic, and public/private business leaders from around the state to bring
about civic action to transform attitudes and behaviors of Pennsylvanians, regarding the worth of Fathers and their
contributions to the well-being of Pennsylvania’s children, youth and families.

Notwithstanding the above heartfelt purpose that brought the Planning Committee together in the first instance, the
Committee also affirmed as its overarching goal, the encouragement of Commonwealth investment in every child’s
developmental growth, and the elimination of all systemic barriers that impede every Father’s desire to contribute more to
his child’s well-being.

Given the reality of father, child and family advocates who operate in silos, the Planning Committee added as a goal for its
2018 gathering, a convening of such advocates to highlight the urgent need for greater paternal participation within the lives
of children and families.

The Committee sees a convening of such a group as an opportunity for stakeholders across the Commonwealth to work
collaboratively to strategize and identify ways for all interested parties to be more supportive of the role that fathers play in
the care of their children.

It is anticipated that Convening Participants would depart with a willingness to serve as catalysts raising the consciousness
of government, philanthropic, corporate, community, civic, and public/private business leaders from around the state to bring
about civic action to transform attitudes and behaviors of Pennsylvanians, regarding the worth of Fathers and their
contributions to the well-being of Pennsylvania’s children, youth and families.

159
Reverend Dr. W. Wilson Goode, Sr., reported to the Authors (2018).
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Findings from the 2018 Convening, with recommendations, are expected to be transmitted to the Governor of the
Commonwealth and select members of his cabinet, every member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, Justices of the
Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and Lead Judges of Family Courts throughout the Commonwealth.

Together Everyone Achieves More….

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APPENDICES
A. Number and Percentage of PA Children Under 18 Years in Families ......................................................... 85 - 87
With Incomes Below 100 Percent of Poverty Level by County and Family Type

B. A Systems Approach to Increasing Father Involvement…………………………………………………….88

C. State-Wide 2017 Fatherhood Symposium ..................................................................................................... 89 - 91


 Agenda
 Roundtable Discussion Work Groups

D. Understanding the Need in PA: A Statistical Snap-Shot ............................................................................... 92 - 96


 Family Formation Indicators vis-à-vis Father Absence
 Children Living in Poverty
 Pennsylvania’s National Child Well-Being Ranking
 Systems of Care in PA and the Need for Father-Inclusive Services

E. The Collective Impact Approach to Achieve Social Change ............................................................................... 97

F. Organizational Contributors to the Symposium ............................................................................................ 98-100

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A. Number and Percentage of Pennsylvania Children Under
18 Years in Families with Incomes Below 100 Percent of
Poverty Level by County and Family Type (2012-2016)

Thanks to the combined efforts of Kelly Hoffman, KIDS COUNT Director with Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children and
Tim Schock, Data Analyst with Pennsylvania State Data Center, the following table (page 21-22) is an invaluable tool for
policy-makers, service providers, and advocates because it includes specific information on the number of children living in
families by family type with incomes below the poverty level in each of the state’s 67 counties.
An Explanation of the Data Categories

Pennsylvania Statewide Data: 1st line of the table includes overall totals for the state.

Individual County Listing:


Example: Adams County

All Family Types in Adams County: (married couple families, single-mother families and single-father families)
Number of children in all family types: 20,330 children in Adams County
Living below poverty:
Number of Children: 3,040
Percent of all Children: 15%

Married-Couple Families in Adams County


Number of all children in married-couple of families: 14,770
Percent of children living in all family types in the county: 73%
Living below poverty:
Number of Children: 1,050
Percent of Children living in married-couple families: 7%

Single-Mother Families in Adams County


Number of all children in single-mother families: 4,090
Percent of children living in all family types in the county: 20%
Living below poverty:
Number of Children: 1,710
Percent of Children living in single-mother families: 42%

Single-Father Families in Adams County


Number of all children in single-father families: 1,470
Percent of children living in all family types in the county: 7%
Living below poverty:
Number of Children: 280
Percent of Children living in single-father families: 19%

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Children under 18 years by family type and poverty status

All family types Married-couple families Single mother families Single father families
# % of all
In poverty
In poverty (<100%) In poverty (<100%) In poverty (<100%) childre family
% of % of (<100%)
County # children n types
# all # all
in all family % of % of
children family children family % of single
types % of all # married- # # single
# children types types mother
children children couple children children father
families
families families
Pennsylvania 2,646,00 494,750 19% 1,759,3 66% 131,1 7% 690,2 26% 315,2 46% 196,4 7% 48,31 25%
Adams 20,330 0 3,040 15% 14,77
50 73% 1,050
70 7% 4,090
30 20% 1,710
70 42% 1,470
10 7% 280
0 19%
Allegheny 230,880 39,620 17% 157,1
0 68% 7,810 5% 59,84 26% 28,22 47% 13,90 6% 3,590 26%
Armstrong 12,900 2,600 20% 8,970
40 70% 890 10% 2,9100 23% 1,5200 52% 1,020
0 8% 190 19%
Beaver 32,810 5,460 17% 21,76 66% 1,020 5% 8,710 27% 3,860 44% 2,350 7% 580 25%
Bedford 9,830 1,920 20% 7,090
0 72% 720 10% 1,710 17% 780 45% 1,030 10% 430 42%
Berks 92,590 20,550 22% 58,69 63% 5,380 9% 26,00 28% 13,15 51% 7,900 9% 2,030 26%
Blair 25,480 5,490 22% 17,26
0 68% 1,730 10% 6,1300 24% 3,0100 49% 2,090 8% 740 35%
Bradford 13,310 2,330 18% 9,260
0 70% 960 10% 2,510 19% 1,080 43% 1,540 12% 300 19%
Bucks 132,180 9,040 7% 104,5 79% 3,030 3% 21,00 16% 5,420 26% 6,680 5% 600 9%
Butler 38,190 3,560 9% 30,11
10 79% 930 3% 5,2000 14% 2,060 40% 2,880 8% 570 20%
Cambria 25,900 6,320 24% 16,82
0 65% 1,570 9% 6,970 27% 4,050 58% 2,120 8% 700 33%
Cameron 810 180 22% 390
0 48% 30 7% 300 37% 150 49% 120 15% 3 2%
Carbon 12,250 2,570 21% 8,030 66% 560 7% 3,000 25% 1,320 44% 1,220 10% 680 56%
Centre 24,050 3,170 13% 19,12 80% 1,520 8% 3,760 16% 1,420 38% 1,170 5% 240 20%
Chester 118,730 10,120 9% 96,28
0 81% 3,870 4% 16,10 14% 5,080 32% 6,350 5% 1,180 19%
Clarion 7,180 1,610 22% 5,320
0 74% 820 15% 1,2700 18% 640 50% 590 8% 160 27%
Clearfield 14,900 3,410 23% 10,46 70% 1,430 14% 3,220 22% 1,800 56% 1,230 8% 190 15%
Clinton 7,960 2,080 26% 5,450
0 68% 820 15% 1,740 22% 880 51% 780 10% 380 49%
Columbia 11,680 1,950 17% 8,420 72% 650 8% 2,320 20% 1,070 46% 950 8% 220 23%
Crawford 18,110 3,730 21% 12,42 69% 1,310 11% 3,970 22% 2,170 55% 1,730 10% 260 15%
Cumberland 48,530 5,610 12% 36,42
0 75% 1,900 5% 8,710 18% 2,950 34% 3,410 7% 760 22%
Dauphin 59,820 11,900 20% 35,63
0 60% 3,000 8% 19,01 32% 7,980 42% 5,180 9% 920 18%
Delaware 123,500 17,810 14% 81,64
0 66% 3,810 5% 33,540 27% 12,20 36% 8,320 7% 1,810 22%
Elk 5,980 820 14% 4,170
0 70% 180 4% 1,1100 18% 460
0 41% 700 12% 190 26%
Erie 59,780 14,410 24% 36,35 61% 4,130 11% 18,15 30% 9,210 51% 5,280 9% 1,060 20%
Fayette 25,500 7,490 29% 15,57
0 61% 1,940 12% 7,6300 30% 4,870 64% 2,300 9% 680 30%
Forest 130 50 36% 90
0 70% 30 31% 30 26% 20 45% 10 4% 3 60%
Franklin 34,000 6,340 19% 24,42 72% 2,670 11% 7,350 22% 3,200 43% 2,230 7% 470 21%
Fulton 3,020 450 15% 2,170
0 72% 200 9% 500 16% 210 41% 340 11% 50 15%
Greene 7,010 1,620 23% 4,300 61% 260 6% 1,910 27% 1,180 62% 800 11% 180 23%
Huntingdon 8,520 1,590 19% 6,380 75% 790 12% 1,340 16% 650 49% 800 9% 150 18%
Indiana 15,620 3,230 21% 12,15 78% 1,860 15% 2,260 14% 1,110 49% 1,210 8% 260 21%
Jefferson 9,180 1,960 21% 6,580
0 72% 900 14% 1,840 20% 860 47% 760 8% 200 27%
Juniata 5,470 910 17% 4,300 79% 610 14% 650 12% 260 40% 520 9% 30 7%
Lackawanna 42,030 9,270 22% 26,39 63% 2,710 10% 12,33 29% 5,910 48% 3,300 8% 650 20%
County All family types Married-couple
0 families 0Single mother families Single father families

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In poverty
# In poverty (<100%) (<100%) In poverty (<100%) In poverty (<100%)
children % of % of % of
in all % of all % of single % of all
all # married- # children mother family # children single
family # % of all family children couple family father
types children children # children types families types
families # children types # children families
Lancaster 125,910 19,610 16% 96,210 76% 8,320 9% 22,250 18% 9,870 44% 7,450 6% 1,420 19%
Lawrence 17,650 3,760 21% 11,020 62% 660 6% 5,200 29% 2,650 51% 1,430 8% 450 32%
Lebanon 30,970 4,820 16% 20,870 67% 1,130 5% 7,420 24% 3,240 44% 2,670 9% 450 17%
Lehigh 80,520 16,170 20% 50,500 63% 3,780 7% 23,870 30% 10,650 45% 6,160 8% 1,730 28%
Luzerne 61,370 16,120 26% 35,930 59% 3,520 10% 20,490 33% 11,230 55% 4,950 8% 1,370 28%
Lycoming 23,540 5,040 21% 15,490 66% 1,250 8% 5,910 25% 3,380 57% 2,140 9% 410 19%
McKean 7,950 2,140 27% 4,510 57% 610 13% 2,290 29% 1,210 53% 1,140 14% 320 28%
Mercer 22,220 5,120 23% 15,090 68% 1,540 10% 5,470 25% 2,970 54% 1,660 7% 610 37%
Mifflin 10,160 2,370 23% 7,190 71% 940 13% 2,050 20% 1,160 56% 920 9% 270 29%
Monroe 34,780 5,600 16% 23,970 69% 1,690 7% 8,140 23% 3,560 44% 2,670 8% 350 13%
Montgomery 176,830 13,230 7% 140,350 79% 4,760 3% 27,060 15% 7,150 26% 9,420 5% 1,320 14%
Montour 3,520 480 14% 2,490 71% 150 6% 780 22% 320 41% 250 7% 10 2%
Northampton 60,330 7,580 13% 42,370 70% 2,310 5% 13,620 23% 4,640 34% 4,340 7% 620 14%
Northumberland 17,820 3,820 21% 11,780 66% 1,290 11% 4,310 24% 1,970 46% 1,730 10% 560 32%
Perry 9,680 1,090 11% 7,250 75% 510 7% 1,840 19% 490 27% 600 6% 100 16%
Philadelphia 339,650 123,690 36% 136,940 40% 22,880 17% 172,460 51% 89,450 52% 30,250 9% 11,370 38%
Pike 10,730 1,640 15% 7,490 70% 750 10% 1,840 17% 470 26% 1,390 13% 410 30%
Potter 3,570 680 19% 2,590 73% 310 12% 700 20% 320 46% 280 8% 50 17%
Schuylkill 27,930 5,150 18% 18,710 67% 1,470 8% 6,680 24% 2,970 45% 2,550 9% 710 28%
Snyder 8,520 1,410 17% 6,450 76% 580 9% 1,570 18% 760 48% 500 6% 80 15%
Somerset 13,750 2,740 20% 10,430 76% 1,050 10% 2,190 16% 1,200 55% 1,140 8% 490 43%
Sullivan 720 60 8% 510 71% 20 4% 100 14% 20 16% 110 15% 30 23%
Susquehanna 8,000 1,490 19% 5,650 71% 590 11% 1,460 18% 680 47% 880 11% 220 24%
Tioga 8,170 1,410 17% 5,870 72% 590 10% 1,500 18% 720 48% 810 10% 100 12%
Union 7,740 970 12% 6,050 78% 240 4% 1,120 14% 590 53% 570 7% 130 23%
Venango 10,380 2,270 22% 7,060 68% 870 12% 2,450 24% 1,170 48% 880 8% 230 26%
Warren 7,690 1,550 20% 5,590 73% 680 12% 1,490 19% 640 43% 610 8% 230 38%
Washington 40,410 5,200 13% 29,500 73% 1,220 4% 7,950 20% 3,570 45% 2,960 7% 400 14%
Wayne 8,820 1,570 18% 6,460 73% 630 10% 1,650 19% 690 42% 710 8% 250 36%
Westmoreland 66,550 9,970 15% 47,820 72% 2,730 6% 14,380 22% 6,220 43% 4,360 7% 1,020 23%

Wyoming 5,550 850 15% 3,760 68% 220 6% 1,290 23% 540 42% 500 9% 90 17%
York 96,450 14,990 16% 64,660 67% 2,850 4% 23,650 25% 10,320 44% 8,150 8% 1,830 22%
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012-16 5-year estimates American Community

Survey (B17006)
A family is considered to be in poverty if the family's total income is less than the family's threshold (which is based on
family size and composition).

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B. A Systems Approach to Increasing Father
Involvement

The Symposium Organizing Committee wrestled with grouping the myriad of systems and issues that touch the lives of
fathers and their children warranting an in-depth review of the obstacles to father involvement and overall family stability.

Father absence can be viewed as either a consequence of family and child support policies and programs (e.g., barriers to
father involvement) or the cause of the number of children living in poverty without the emotional and financial support of
their fathers and/or both.

Increase in It must be recognized up-front that there


non-marital are multiple and often times complex
births
Child Support factors undermining child and family
Incarceration
Arrears
well-being other than father absence
(e.g., substance abuse, low paying jobs,
Father
changing norms in family formation,
Divorce Rates Absence Substance
Abuse incarceration, etc.) as reflected in the
Impacts diagram to the left.
Child Well-
Unplanned However, research over the past two
Pregnancies & Being
Poverty decades has provided an abundance of
Multiple Partner
Fertility evidence that shows a direct correlation
Minimum to father involvement (or lack thereof) to
Wage Jobs / Changing
Social Mores child and family wellbeing (The Full
Joblessness
Report includes this information.)

The goal of the Symposium’s “systems approach” is to identify the barriers to greater father involvement in the lives of
children -- remove or minimize them -- and provide the necessary supports to fathers that will enable them to positively
contribute to the emotional and financial well-being of their children.

With this in mind, the Executive Organizing Committee focused its work on the topics under the following categories as a
way to get a handle on developing a comprehensive, systems approach to tackling the issue of increasing father involvement
and father-inclusive services:

1. Administration of Justice/Public Safety


2. Behavioral Health
3. Child Support Services and Enforcement
4. Dependent, Delinquent and Crossover Children and Youth
5. Early Childhood Development
6. Education
7. Employment and Training
8. Housing, Supervised Independent Living, and Homelessness
9. Parent Education and Support Services
10. Public Health
The Symposium Organizing Committee recognizes that these 10 over-arching categories may have inadvertently missed other
“systems of care” in Pennsylvania that touch the lives of fathers, children and their families and may need to be included at
some other point in time.

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C. State-Wide Fatherhood Symposium: Meeting Overview

Agenda
Child Well-Being in Pennsylvania…
And the Urgent Need for Father Involvement

September 27, 2017 • Full Day Program


8:00 am – 9:00 am Registration, Continental Breakfast, Networking

9:00 am – 9:10 am Welcome and Greeting


Reverend. Dr. W. Wilson Good, Sr., Symposium Chair

9:10 am – 9:20 am Purpose of Symposium and Introduction of Plenary Speakers


Mr. David A. Whyer, Symposium Co-Chair

9:20 am – 10:40am PLENARY SPEAKERS

Mr. William J. Clark, President, Child’s World America,


and Publisher of Child World News on behalf of Mr. Bruce Lesley,
President, First Focus
Making Children and Families the Priority

The Honorable Eugene DePasquale, Auditor General of Pennsylvania,


Fixing Pennsylvania’s Broken Child-Welfare System

Dr. Janet Eisenberg Shapiro, Dean and Professor of the Graduate


School of Social Work and Social Research,
Fathers Get Stressed Too: How the ACES Studies Can Help
Us to Support Fathers as Partners and Caregivers

10:40 am – 10:45 am BREAK

10:45 am – noon PANEL PRESENTATION AND DISCUSSION


Moderator – Dr. Catherine Lobaugh, Symposium Co-Chair
Child Well-Being in Pennsylvania
Ms. Kelly M. Hoffman, Kids Count Director at the Pennsylvania
Partnership for Children
Systemic Impediments to Father Involvement
Dr. David J. Pate Jr., Associate Professor at the University of
Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Helen Bader School of Social Welfare, and
an Affiliated Associate Professor of the Institute for Research and
Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Child Well-Being in Pennsylvania and the Urgent Need for Father Involvement:
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10:45 am – noon (Continued)

Engaging Fathers and Families Through the Lens of Education


Ms. Carrie Jasper, Director, Outreach to Parents and Families,
Office of Communications and Outreach, U.S. Department of
Education

12:15 pm – 1:15 pm SYMPOSIUM WORKING LUNCH


Introduction of Luncheon Speaker:
Mr. Larry L. Klinger, Jr., Chair,

Symposium Remarks:
Ms. Larissa Bailey, Central Region Manager,
Office of U.S. Senator Pat Tooney

Lunch Speaker:
Ms. Christine Lea James-Brown, CEO,
Child Welfare League of America

1:15 pm – 1:30 pm BREAK

1:30 pm – 3:00 pm SYMPOSIUM ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSIONS

3:00 pm – 3:30 pm AFTERNOON PRELIMINARY RPORTING:


FROM ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSIONS

Moderator:
Larry L. Klinger, Fathers Collaborative Council of
Western Pennsylvania

3:30 pm – 4:00 pm LEGISLATIVE ADDRESS


State Senator Anthony Hardy Williams
State Senator Patrick M. Brown
Representative Edward C. Gainey
Representative Harold A. English

4:00 pm – 4:30 pm EVALUATION AND ADJOURNMENT


Dr. Rufus Sylvester Lynch, Chair
The Strong Families Commission, Inc.

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D. Roundtable Discussion Work Groups
Participant
Input
An important part of the one-
day Fatherhood Symposium
was the break-out of
Roundtable Workgroups Facilitators attendees into one of the 10
Roundtable Discussion
Administration of Justice/Public Safety Chair, Mr. George D. Mosee, Jr., Esquire Workgroups based on their
Co-Chair, Dr. H. Jean Wright II, Forensic professional interest and/or
Psychologist expertise.
Behavioral Health Chair, Mr. George Fleming
Co-Chair, Ms. Robin Evans Given the time limitations of
Child Support Services and Chair, Ms. Debra Pontisso the breakout session, many
Enforcement of the Roundtable
Co-Chair, Ms. Jacquelyn Mitchell, JD,
Workgroup Facilitators
LICSW
developed draft, background
Dependent, Delinquent & Crossover Chair, Mr. David R. Fair issue papers and made them
Children and Youth
Co-Chair, Mr. Jerry Harvey available to attendees prior to
the September 27th meeting
Early Childhood Development Chair, Ms. Jeanette Casciato as a means to stimulate ideas
Co-Chair, Ms. Malkia Singleton Ofori- beforehand.
Agyekum
Education Chair, Dr. Richard Jeffrey Rhodes
All workgroups elected a
Co-Chair, Ms. Barbara J. Chavous-
spokesperson who
Pennock, MSW
subsequently presented a
Employment and Training Chair, Ms. Kay Lynn Hamilton summary of the workgroup
Co-Chair, Mr. Jason Cosley discussion – including the
barriers to and
Housing, Supervised Independent Chair, Ms. Nicole Anderson
Living, and Homelessness recommendations for
Co-Chair, Ms. Kerry Krieger increasing father
Parent Education/Supportive Services Chair, Ms. Anita Kulick involvement – to all meeting
participants.
Co-Chair Mr. John M. Burwell
Public Health Chair, Ms. Brenda Shelton-Dunston
Co-Chair, Mr. William Champagne The Workgroups provided
the direction and basis for the
editors of the FINAL
REPORT to conduct a search
of the literature (e.g.,
empirical studies) on issues
germane to each of the topic
areas.

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D. Understanding the Need: A Statistical “Snap-Shot”
Compared to several decades ago, the landscape of American families has
changed significantly.

The rise in the number of children in female-headed households is based, in


part, on the dramatic increase in births to
unmarried parents over the last three decades. It
is also compounded by the accelerated
incarceration of adults nationwide (the majority
with minor age children) which takes fathers out
of the lives of their children – for a time or
sometimes forever.

In far too many instances, father absence or father non-involvement has


been the unfortunate consequence of changes in family formation, structure
and dynamics throughout the country and in Pennsylvania.

Such behavior on the part of fathers has also had an adverse impact on the
well-being of children. That is not to say, however, that all children from
single-parent or estranged households suffer these consequences.
Many explanations have been offered
1. Family Formation Indicators vis-à-vis for the increase in nonmarital
childbearing.
Father Absence
One of the most notable changes in
recent decades has been the fact that
Births to Unmarried Women by Year: women and men are marrying at
increasingly older ages and/or fewer
Location 1990 2016 adults are getting married.
This means that relatively fewer
National 1,165,384 or 1,569,796 or women are married when women are
29% of all live 40% of all live most likely to have a child.
births births At the same time, however,
Pennsylvania 49,258 or 56,680 or cohabitation has increased. Notably,
many nonmarital births occur to
29% of all live 41% of all live
couples who live together in a
births births cohabiting union but are not formally
married. Recent estimates suggest that
62 percent of births to never-married
women are to women in a cohabiting
union.
Source: Child Trends, “Dramatic
increase in the proportion of births
outside of marriage in the United States
from 1990 to 2016” by Elizabeth
Wildsmith, Jennifer Manlove, &
Elizabeth Coo, August 8, 2018

Source: Kids Count Data Center, Annie E. Casey Foundation


https://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/tables/7-births-to-unmarried-women

Note: Non-marital birth percentages for these years were higher within the African-American and Hispanic populations
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Children Living in Single-Parent Households by Year:

Location 2000 2016

National 20,748,000 or 24,267,000 or


31% of all children 35% of all children
Pennsylvania 801,000 or 894,000 or
29% of all children 34% of all children

Source: Kids County Data Center, Annie E. Casey Foundation


https://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/tables/106-children-in-single-parent-families
Definitions: Children under age 18 who live with their own single parent either in a family or subfamily. In this definition,
single-parent families may include cohabiting couples and do not include children living with married stepparents. Data
Source: Population Reference Bureau, analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000 Supplementary Survey,
2001 Supplementary Survey and 2002 through 2016 American Community Survey (ACS).

Why This Data Matters


Many (but not all) of the 24 million children growing up in single parent households, nationwide, today face higher
risks of poor outcomes than do children in intact, low-conflict families headed by two biological parents. According
to a Child Trends report:
Children born to unmarried mothers are more likely to be poor, to grow up in a single-parent family, and to
experience multiple living arrangements during childhood. These factors, in turn are associated with lower
educational attainment and a higher risk of teen and non-marital child bearing.

Children Who Had a Parent Who Was Ever Incarcerated by Year:

National More than 5 million—7 percent of all children in the United 2015
States—have had a parent incarcerated at some point in their life

Pennsylvania 225,000 or 2015-2016


9% of all children in the state
have or had a parent who was incarcerated

National Data Source: Parent-Child Visiting Practices in Prisons and Jails, by Lindsey Cramer, Margaret Goff, Bryce
Peterson, and Heather Sandstrom, Urban Institute, April 13, 2017; Parents Behind Bars: What Happens to their Children?
by David Murphey and P. Mae Cooper, Child Trends, 2015.

Pennsylvania Data Source:
Child Trends analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services
Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau, National Survey of Children’s Health. The state-level data used here
come from the National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH). The NSCH includes information on approximately 50,000
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children under age 18, with representative samples for each state. For more information on the NSCH,
see http://childhealthdata.org/learn/NSCH
Why This Data Matters

 Physical proximity and availability are key to father involvement and the criminal justice system affects both:
incarceration directly limits access to fathers, and reentry policies impact fathers’ capacity to be available for their
children (emotionally and financially). Furthermore, at any given time, countless fathers are serving jail time, which
can be just as disruptive to a child as prison time, “making it difficult for remaining caregivers to maintain a job,
housing and child care.”
 Recent estimates indicate that 2.7 million children in the United States have a parent incarcerated, and more than 5
million—7 percent of all children in the United States—have had a parent incarcerated at some point in their life.
 Black children and children from economically disadvantaged families are more likely to experience parental
incarceration. In fact, nearly twice as many black children (11.5 percent) have had a parent who lived with them go
to jail or prison compared to white children (6 percent).
 And a child living in poverty is three times more likely (12.5 percent) to have experienced parental incarceration
than a child whose household income is at least twice the federal poverty level.

2. Children Living in Poverty


Number and Percentage of PA Children Under 18 Years in Families with Incomes Below 100 Percent of Poverty
Level by Family Type*

Total Number of
Children in State by Number of Children in Percent in Poverty by
Family Type Poverty Family Type
Married Couple
1,759,350 131,170 7 percent
Families
Single Mother Families 690,230 315,270 46 percent
Single Father Families 196,410 48,310 25 percent

*Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012-16, [five- year estimates from the American Community Survey]
Definitions: Families with related children under age 18 that have incomes below the federal poverty level. The federal poverty definition
consists of a series of thresholds based on family size and composition. In 2016, the poverty threshold for a family of two adults and two
children was $24,000.

Why This Data Matters


Children in poverty can face insurmountable barriers to success. They are more likely to suffer abuse or neglect.
Their school performance is hampered by the greater likelihood of learning disabilities, repeating grades, and
dropping out. They are more likely to become teen parents and to abuse drugs and alcohol. Neighborhood
concentration of poverty can expose children to crime, violence, lead poisoning and other health hazards. Children
may have less access to beneficial activities that offer recreation, learning, and socialization. Source: Kids Count
Data Center, Annie E. Casey Foundation.

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3. Pennsylvania’s National Child Well-Being Ranking
The 2018 Kids Count Data Book, released by Annie E. Casey Foundation June 27, 2018, ranks Pennsylvania 17 th in the
country for overall child well-being. The Data Book uses 16 indicators to rank each state across four, overarching domains:
education, health, economic well-being and family and community.

According to a press release issued by the Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children upon the release of the Data Book,
Pennsylvania now ranks:

• 10th in education: The education domain looks at early education opportunities,


reading and math proficiency and whether high school students graduate on time.
Pennsylvania ranks above average for on-time graduation rates at 86 percent. However,
a majority of fourth-graders in the state (60 percent) scored below proficient in reading
and nearly two-out-of-three students in eighth grade (62 percent) were not proficient in
math.

• 15th in health: The health domain looks at the percentage of children who lack health
insurance, child and teen death rates, low-birthweight babies and alcohol and drug
abuse among teens. The state continued to see a reduction in the percentage of children lacking health insurance, which fell
20 percent from 2010 to 2016. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, nearly 1.4 million children
in Pennsylvania have access to affordable, quality health care coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health
Insurance Program (CHIP), allowing the state to reach the very low rate of 4 percent of children lacking health insurance,
in line with the national average.

• 23rd in economic well-being: The economic well-being domain examines data related to child poverty, family
employment, housing costs and whether older teens not in school are working. Pennsylvania continues to experience slow
economic growth and there has been little change since 2010 with far too many children – nearly one in five – still living
in poverty.

• 24th in the family and community domain: This domain examines the percentage of children living in high-poverty
areas, single-parent households and education levels among heads of households, as well as teen birth rates. The state saw
a drop in the teen birth rate, however, the number of children living in high-poverty neighborhoods increased. More needs
to be done to ensure the well-being of our families and communities

4. Systems of Care in PA and the Need for Father-Inclusive


Services
Too many children across the country, including far too many in the State of Pennsylvania, lack the benefit of both parents.
In most cases this reflects the absence of a father. For example, in Philadelphia 60% of the children live in single-parent
households, with 50% living in mother-only households and around 10% living in father-only households.

This is particularly troubling because research suggests that a father’s absence can have a negative impact on child well-
being from birth forward, including economic deprivation, higher odds of incarceration, twice the odds of becoming a high
school dropout, higher odds of smoking, drinking and using drugs, and higher risk of physical, emotional or economic
neglect.

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The conundrum is that, in general, state child and family support services funded by
the federal government are generally focused on children and their mothers.

Furthermore, it has to be acknowledged that Congress sets the parameters for the intended
goals and program outcomes that often result in program “silos” thereby making it difficult
to create on-ramps to services for fathers and/or including them as part of the service
response.

Consequently, the systems of care in Pennsylvania are typically not including fathers nor the
paternal side of the child’s family as resources essential to ensuring the safety, permanency, and well-being of children.
Thus, our children are often not fully served.

The good news is that there has been a growing recognition within federal government -- dating back to the early 90s -- that
fathers need to be included and considered as an integral part of the social service response in programs largely intended to
support children in single-parent households and/or other children in need.

For Pennsylvania, the challenge is to recognize that including fathers as an integral part of a social service response can
positively impact program outcomes for children.

This will require the purposeful incorporation of a “Father Involvement” into existing program policies, regulations, and/or
practices. It will require inter-agency collaboration and outreach.

And last, but equally important, it will take the leadership and action of the Pennsylvania State Legislature – similar to the
Legislative Preamble below – to create a context for change.

Proposed Congressional Legislation:

“Julia Carson Bill for Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families Act of 2015”
Co-Sponsored by U.S. Congressmen Danny K. Davis (D-IL) and André Carson (D-IN)
Preamble:
Fathers play a significant and under-appreciated role in the development of their children, with research demonstrating
that a supportive and involved father strengthens a child’s emotional, physical, intellectual and behavioral development.
Children with positive relationships with fathers – even if they do not live in the same household - have stronger mental
health, economic success, and academic achievement with lower rates of youth delinquency, school drop-out, and teen
pregnancy.
Father engagement does not depend on living in the same house as one’s child, with many non-residential fathers being
actively-involved with their children and supportive of their children’s mothers.
However, low-income fathers experience multiple challenges to contributing financially and emotionally to their children
due to limited education and job skills, unstable employment opportunities, child support enforcement policies,
incarceration, and strained relationships with their children’s mothers.

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E. The Collective Impact Approach to Achieve Social
Change
COLLECTIVE IMPACT* brings people together — in a structured way — to achieve social change. Collective impact
takes us from common goals to uncommon results.

Too many organizations are working in isolation from one another.


The Collective Impact Framework: Collective Impact is a framework to tackle deeply entrenched and complex social
problems in an innovative and structured approach to making collaboration work across government, business, philanthropy,
non-profit organizations and citizens to achieve significant and lasting social change.
 It starts with a common agenda.
That means coming together to collectively define the
Common Agenda problem and create a shared vision to solve it.
Keeps all parties moving towards  It establishes shared measurement.
the same goal That means agreeing to track progress in the same way,
Common Progress Measures which allows for continuous improvement.
Measures that get to the TRUE  It fosters mutually reinforcing activities.
outcomes That means coordinating collective efforts to maximize
Mutually Reinforcing Activities the end result.
Each expertise is leveraged as  It encourages continuous communication.
part of the overall That means building trust and relationships among all
Communications participants.
This allows a culture of  And it has a strong backbone.
collaboration That means having a team dedicated to
Backbone Organization orchestrating the work of the group.
Takes on the role of managing
collaboration *Source of Information: The Collective Impact Forum
https://www.collectiveimpactforum.org/what-collective-
impact

The Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions


Through the Forum for Community Solutions, the Aspen Institutes supports and encourages communities to come
together to expand mobility, eliminate systemic barriers, and create their own solutions to their most pressing
challenges.
Multi-Sector partnerships are a critical part of complex community collaborations, and the Forum for Community Solutions
promotes their use and uses them as a tool to increase the impact and effectiveness of collaborations. A partnership with the
Collective Impact Forum underscores the Aspen Institute’s commitment to building multi-sector partnerships through the
role of collective impact.

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F. Organizational Contributors to the Symposium

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An Advocate for Greater Father Involvement
in the Lives of Children & Families
And the Systems that Serve Them

WWW.SOC18.ORG

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