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Young Unwed Fathers and Welfare Reform

NCJ Number
T Ooms; L Herendeen
Date Published
17 pages
This November 1988 seminar discussed the implications of the Family Support Act of 1988 for young unwed fathers.
One panelist summarized the key features of the Act that she believed would have a significant impact on the problem of welfare dependency: strengthened child support enforcement through automatic wage withholding of the absent parent; requirement that States use uniform guidelines for setting child support awards; and establishment of the Jobs Opportunity and Basic Skills (JOBS) program. Another panelist focused on implementation of the Act and how it could affect young unwed fathers. She pointed out that nothing in the bill specifically requires States to focus on unwed fathers. The third panelist described the Maryland Department of Human Resources' experience in conducting a pilot absent-parents employment program using State funds. Salient points made in seminar discussions dealt with the need to assess psychological and economic benefits to the child of establishing paternity and encouraging paternal responsibility, the possibility that helping unwed fathers obtain employment might increase marriage rates, the importance of achieving two stable incomes from both mother and father, the danger of physical violence to women and/or their children from fathers, and training for program staff who work with young unwed fathers. A background briefing report for the seminar encompasses adolescent childbearing out of wedlock, welfare dependency of unwed mothers, a profile of unwed fathers, and policy development strategies. Major provisions of the Family Support Act are outlined. 27 references.