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Fathers, marriage, and welfare reform (Chapter 16 of The new world of welfare.)

Publication Year: 
2001
Personal Author: 
Horn, Wade F.
Sawhill, Isabel V.
Chapter in Book
Page Count: 
21
Journal Title: 
The new world of welfare.

Although the 1998 welfare reform law supported the promotion of marriage to reduce poverty, most initiatives have dedicated resources to employment programs for mothers. This chapter describes how marriage can improve child well-being by increasing family income and facilitating relationships between fathers and their children. Lessons learned from programs such as Parents' Fair Share and the Fragile Families Initiative have demonstrated the importance of activities that encourage marital stability and paternal social and emotional involvement at an early age. However, policies must address barriers to marriage such as social norms about premarital sex and lifelong marriage and economic disincentives. Recommendations for future welfare reform efforts include support for non-profit and faith-based pregnancy prevention and father engagement programs and public discussion about the value of marriage. Congress should remove disincentives and enact incentives for marriage, especially for low-income families. Finally, the reauthorization of TANF should include provisions for employment services for men, parenting skill training, and changing cultural norms regarding sex, teen pregnancy, and marriage. A critical commentary on the chapter by Ronald B. Mincy is included in the document. 7 references.