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Making Fathers Count: Assessing the Progress of Responsible Fatherhood Efforts

by Kathleen Sylvester; Kathleen Reich

Jan 1, 2002

This report provides a history of the issue of fatherhood in policy debates and philanthropic action from the late 1960's through the present day. It then outlines research findings in seven core areas of fatherhood and discusses accomplishments and challenges for policymakers.
  • Grassroots programs for fathers emerged in the 1970's and the 1980's, as Americans were finding that father absence had adverse effects on children and were becoming increasingly concerned with the idea of family breakdown.
  • Research in this area has disproved the notion of "deadbeat dads" as uninterested or irresponsible. In one study, 99.8 percent of expectant fathers wanted to be involved in raising their children.
  • For the majority of fathers who do not meet child support payments, it is because they are uneducated, unskilled, and lack social supports.
  • Family advocacy groups have traditionally served women and children first and failed to see the interdependence of women's and men's interests.
  • In 2000, fathers were eight times as likely as mothers to be portrayed as bad parents on primetime television.
  • Low-income fathers find it especially rare that their workplaces will make allowances for them to balance work and family.