Over the last few decades, the United States has experienced a dramatic decline in employment opportunities for unskilled men. This trend doesn't just represent an economic problem; it also represents a threat to the well-being of children. Men who are experiencing financial hardships or problems with employment often have trouble being responsible fathers. This appears to be especially true of young fathers and nonresident fathers (i.e., those living apart from their children), who are more likely to have low levels of education and job experience, to be in poor health, to have a history of involvement with the criminal justice system, and to earn low hourly wages and work fewer hours if they do hold jobs. Lack of stable employment and adequate income limit fathers' abilities to financially support children, including making child support payments. Studies show that fathers often want to provide financial support to their children, but lack the means to do so. Yet relatively few policies or programs are aimed at helping such men. While some programs do exist to help fathers gain stable employment, increase their incomes, and make child support payments, few fathers are currently served by such programs. Moreover, more needs to be learned about the effectiveness of these programs. What practices have been found to be successful in programs aimed at increasing self-sufficiency and employment among low-income fathers? What matters? What really works? As a way to address these questions, Child Trends identified eight characteristics of "model' and "promising' self-sufficiency and employment programs for fathers, based on evidence-based research criteria. This brief reports our findings. (Author abstract)
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