Cover image for Fathers' fair share : helping poor men manage child support and fatherhood
Fathers' fair share : helping poor men manage child support and fatherhood
Johnson, Earl (Earl S.)
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Russell Sage Foundation, [1999]

Physical Description:
xiv, 241 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
General Note:
"A Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation Study."
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HV741 .J63 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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One of the most challenging goals for welfare reformers has been improving the collection of child support payments from noncustodial parents, usually fathers. Often vilified as deadbeats who have dropped out of their children's lives, these fathers have been the target of largely punitive enforcement policies that give little consideration to the complex circumstances of these men's lives. Fathers' Fair Share presents an alternative to these measures with an in-depth study of the Parents Fair Share Program. A multi-state intervention run by the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation, the program was designed to better the life skills of nonpaying fathers with children on public assistance, in the belief that this would encourage them to improve their level of child support. The men chosen for the program frequently lived on the margins of society. Chronically unemployed or underemployed, undereducated, and often earning their money on the streets, they bore the scars of drug or alcohol abuse, troubled family lives, and arrest records. Among those of African American and Hispanic descent, many felt a deep-rooted distrust of the mainstream economy. The Parents Fair Share Program offered these men the chance not only to learn the social skills needed for stable employment but to participate in discussions about personal difficulties, racism, and problems in their relationships with their children and families. Fathers' Fair Share details the program's mix of employment training services, peer support groups, and formal mediation of disputes between custodial and noncustodial parents. Equally important, the authors explore the effect of the participating fathers' expectations and doubts about the program, which were colored by their often negative views about the child support and family law system. The voices heard in Fathers' Fair Share provides a rare look into the lives of low-income fathers and how they think about their struggles and prospects, their experiences in the workplace, and their responsibilities toward their families. Parents Fair Share demonstrated that, in spite of their limited resources, these men are more likely to make stronger efforts to improve support payments and to become greater participants in their children's lives if they encounter a less adversarial and arbitrary enforcement system. Fathers' Fair Share offers a valuable resource to the design of social welfare programs seeking to reach out to this little-understood population, and addresses issues of tremendous importance for those concerned about welfare reform, child support enforcement, family law, and employment policy.

Author Notes

Earl S. Johnson is research associate at the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation, New York and San Francisco
Ann Levine is a freelance writer and editor
Fred C. Doolittle is vice president and associate director of research at the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation, New York and San Francisco

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

This work aims to help us achieve the national welfare reform mission of making noncustodial parents fiscally responsible for their children, thereby relieving the burden placed on federal and state agencies (i.e., taxpayers). It quickly becomes clear, however, that the goal of the subtitle is virtually unattainable for most of those classified as poor. The authors, of the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation, provide an exceptional glimpse into the despair and frustration of the poor while illuminating their attitudes toward parenting and child support. The book serves less as a guidance manual than as an awareness tool for program planners and social agencies working to help the poor. It is well documented, and the interviewers demonstrate meticulous transcription skills. Highly recommended for sociology and social work collections in universities and state agencies.ÄSandra Isaacson, OAO Corp./U.S. EPA, Las Vegas, NV (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Using qualitative research, Johnson et al. seek to evaluate efforts to reach noncustodial, nonsupportive parents and to facilitate their involvement personally, socially, and economically with their children. The research is based on a small sample of 32 participants who appear to be representative of the demographic characteristics of the larger population of noncustodial parents. The significant value of this study is the insight it provides into the lives of nonsupportive and noncustodial parents. The authors make some useful recommendations regarding agency and program policy. They offer less direction on social and political policy and programs. This work is sponsored and supported by respected institutions, e.g., the Russell Sage Foundation. The bibliography is adequate. Of particular use to researchers, graduate students, and policy makers. F. J. Peirce; University of Oklahoma

Table of Contents

Mercer L. Sullivan
Forewordp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Chapter 1 Introductionp. 1
Chapter 2 The Participantsp. 18
Chapter 3 The World Outside PFS: An Insider's Viewp. 58
Chapter 4 The Noncustodial Parents' Perspectives on Child Support and the Child Support Systemp. 85
Chapter 5 The Only Game in Town: Walking Through the Doorway of Parents' Fair Sharep. 104
Chapter 6 The Employment and Training Component of PFS: Job Club/Job Searchp. 133
Chapter 7 Conclusionp. 151
Appendix A Sample, Data, and Research Methodologyp. 176
Appendix B Mapsp. 185
Appendix C List and Description of Peer Support Sessionsp. 192
Appendix D Family Treep. 200
Appendix E Personal Shieldsp. 204
Appendix F Profile of Two Participants Deciding How to Use Their Moneyp. 207
Appendix G Profiles of Selected Participantsp. 209
Appendix H Questions for Noncustodial Parents in PFSp. 213
Appendix I Profile of Intervieweesp. 217
Notesp. 222
Referencesp. 228
About the Authorsp. 233
Indexp. 234