Journal of Health and Social Policy
For the past decade our nation has turned its focus to personal responsibility and has subsequently formulated policies that have reformed welfare and strengthened child support enforcement. Parents are held more accountable for the support of their children, regardless of their income levels or age. Teen fathers continue to present dilemmas for policymakers because of their status as minors, lack of understanding of the policy implications for parenthood, lack of skills, and high unemployment rates. Young men face several barriers to involvement with their children, including physical separation, conflicts with the child's mother, rejection from family members because of their inability to provide financial support, misperceptions of health care providers, and developmental stage. However, laws such as the Family Support Act of 1988, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, and the Child Support Distribution Act of 2000 do not consider the special situations of teen fathers. Alternative services and policies need to be developed to involve teen fathers with their children, both socially and financially. For example, programs should recognize the non-cash contributions made by fathers and take a non-punitive approach to support services. Job training and educational assistance should be expanded beyond the TANF-eligibility requirement. (Author abstract modified) 36 references.
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