The role of noncustodial fathers in the lives of low-income families has received considerable attention from policymakers and programs in recent years. While child support enforcement efforts have increased dramatically in recent years, there is evidence that many low-income fathers cannot afford to support their children financially without impoverishing themselves or their families. To address these complex issues, a number of initiatives have focused on developing services to help low-income fathers become more financially and emotionally involved with their families, and to help young low-income families become stable. One such initiative, sponsored by the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Ford Foundation (and other foundation support) was the Partners for Fragile Families (PFF) demonstration. The PFF demonstration operated from 2000 to 2003 in 13 projects located in nine states. It focused on promoting the voluntary establishment of paternity; connecting young fathers with the child support system and encouraging the payment of child support; improving parenting and relationship skills of young fathers; helping young fathers secure and retain employment; and strengthening family ties, commitments, and other types of father involvement when parents do not live together. This report presents ethnographic case studies of eight young (age 19-26), unmarried, low-income fathers who participated in PFF demonstration initiatives located in Boston and Indianapolis. It is part of a multi-component evaluation sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services evaluation of the PFF demonstration projects. The evaluation also includes an implementation study and an analysis of participant child support payment and employment outcomes. (Author abstract)
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