Transitioning Dads into Family Sustaining Careers

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Publication Date
June 5, 2012

Last week, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis announced seven new grant awards totaling $39.7 million, an investment focused on helping non-custodial parents become better fathers by connecting them to job opportunities and teaching them the skills they need to keep these jobs and support their families financially.

In my role within the Department of Labor and as a participant in the White House's Interagency Working Group on Fatherhood, I help promote strategies just like this that encourage support for fathers and families. Through research, discussions and planning, the Department determined that a model known as the transitional jobs model is especially useful for non-custodial parents struggling to enter the workforce and earn a living wage paycheck. These transitional jobs programs place dads with open child support orders on a career pathway that will enable them to financially provide for their children. The new Enhanced Transitional Jobs Demonstration will test the effectiveness of the transitional jobs model when mixed with activities such as occupational skills training, counseling and mentoring, and extended internship and work experience opportunities. Grantees are located in Atlanta, Ft. Worth, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, New York, San Francisco, and Syracuse. The seven grant awards will fund partnerships between nonprofit organizations, employers, the public workforce investment system and local child support and criminal justice agencies. In addition, the structure of this grant funding will identify strategies that best promote success in the workplace and maintenance of child support payments. Each grantee will serve at least 500 individuals over the course of a four-year period, many of whom who will be non-custodial parents with an active child support order.

To provide a robust evaluation for this activity, each grantee is additionally required to track another 500 individuals over the same period. This set of individuals, known as the control group, will not receive services through the program but their progress will be evaluated against the progress of those individuals in the program receiving services. Having this structure implemented through the grantees with assistance from the research group, MDRC, will test the effectiveness of this model. To mark the announcement of these innovative grants, Joshua DuBois, Director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, hosted a conference call on Friday with stakeholders from across the country to discuss the new grants with practitioners and others from the responsible fatherhood field. On the call, Joshua encouraged local faith-based and community groups in the cities that received awards to reach out and develop partnerships with the newly funded consortia. Staff from several of the grantee organizations and their partners also participated on the call, including the Doe Fund in New York City, Goodwill of North Georgia and the Center for Working Families in Atlanta, Workforce Inc. in Indianapolis, and Center for Community Alternative in Syracuse. Stay tuned to the DadTalk blog for stories and updates from each of the seven individual programs.

Ben Siegel is the Deputy Director for the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the U.S. Department of Labor.