This report contends that father absence matters. While the poverty rate for two-parent families is 8.4%, it is 31.3% in divorced families and 64.1% where parents never married. Children raised without fathers perform more poorly in school, develop emotional problems, engage in risky behavior, and experience more violence. Children raised with fathers have higher self-esteem, learn better, and are less likely to be depressed. Some 23 million children live in homes without fathers. This report, tracing the history, accomplishments, and current needs of the fatherhood field, is addressed to advocates, researchers, and funders, as well as agencies working with women and children. The fatherhood movement emerged in the late 1960s and 1970s. Divorce prevalence and working mothers led to increased public concern over father absence. In 1987, a federal commission asserted the importance of fatherhood, focusing on child support. In 1994, the first National Summit on Fatherhood was held. Foundations began funding research and the federal government created a fatherhood initiative, combining child support enforcement with employment assistance. States and communities initiated programs to bring children and fathers together and employers began creating more father-friendly workplaces. Common ground was also forged with women's groups. Fathers now seem to be taking more active roles in their children's lives. However, overall public spending on fatherhood initiatives has been meager. Key dates and national organizations in the fatherhood field are listed. 108 notes.
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