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Forgotten Fathers

As Father’s Day approaches, retail sales are everywhere. Yet although fathers have a secure place in the annual sales calendar, their role in the lives of their children is underappreciated by government at every level.

Too many children, including here in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, lack the benefit of being raised by both parents. Usually it is the father who is absent. In Philadelphia, for example, 60 percent of children live in a single-parent household. Of all single-parent households, 83 percent are mother-only households and 17 percent father-only.

Social research strongly suggests that a father’s absence from a child’s life has a negative impact on child well-being throughout the child’s formative life and beyond. Negative effects include economic depri­vation, increased probability of later incarceration, double the probability of dropping out of high school, greater likelihood of smoking and use of alcohol and drugs, plus higher risks of economic, physical, and emotional neglect.

Further, the tendency of child protective services is still to focus on serving mothers despite research high­lighting the important role of fathers in their children’s development. “Current policy regarding child protection services places increasing demands for providers to engage fathers whose children are involved in the child protection pro­cess. Implementation of this policy clashes with the ongoing challenges that fathers have historically faced in working within these systems” (“Engaging Fathers in Child Protection Services,” Children and Youth Services Review,  August 2012).

The current policy and practice of state intervention in family affairs suffer from an institutional and cultural bias that undervalues the role of fathers. This Father’s Day, let’s take time to reflect on the pressing need to help all fathers become fully involved in the lives of their children. Let’s hope, too, that those who provide children services of all types will make a greater effort to include fathers in their programs. For those fathers affected, the added time spent with their children would be far more appreciated than a new necktie.

 

My thanks to Rufus S. Lynch of The Strong Families Commission for educating me on the urgent need for father involvement.


 

Streamlining Adoption: Uniformity Proposal Raises 10th Amendment Concerns

This article is part 2 of 15 in the column Kid's Capital Watch

A House resolution aimed at speeding up and streamlining the adoption process through a federally reformed Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children is stuck in committee, awaiting leadership’s approval to move to the floor for debate and vote.

States already participate in an ICPC agreement that guides interstate adoptions, but years of tinkering has led to a watering down of the compact. As the American Public Human Service Association notes, the state-to-state adoption and child placement process is rife with delays, in part because of the many differences in jurisdictional standards.

The APHSA, in a policy brief about the ICPC process, wrote: “The 21st century has shown the ICPC to be one of the most antagonizing, antiquated, and burdensome administrative processes required as part of the child-placement continuum. With the complications Read more

Election Day Dawns: A Snapshot of the Child-Related Policies of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

This article is part 1 of 15 in the column Kid's Capital Watch

Immigration, jobs, terrorism, and government-provided health care may have taken front and center on the campaign trail, but with Election Day approaching, polls tightening, and independents mulling over the choices, it’s the sidebar matters like childcare, education, and family leave that could prove the tipping point for many voters.

“The state of America’s children in 2016, especially for children of color, continues to have odds staked against their academic and later economic success,” said Patti Hassler, vice president of outreach and communications for the Children’s Defense Fund. “We believe that this is the greatest threat to our national security and economic future.”

So how do the two main party candidates stack up? Read more

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