Promising Practices in Self-Sufficiency& Employment Programs for Fathers: Evidence-Based and Evidence-Informed Research Findings

Compiled by:
Jacinta Bronte-Tinkew, Ph.D, Jennifer Carrano, B.S., Sara Ericson, M.S, Kassim Mbwana, M.A.



Men who are experiencing financial hardships or problems with employment often encounter
difficulties with becoming responsible fathers (Kotloff, 2005). In the last few decades, the United States has
experienced a decline in the availability of employment opportunities for unskilled males, yet few policies
or programs are aimed at helping such men support their families (Bronte-Tinkew, Bowie, & Moore,
2007)Edin & Nelson, 2001; Kasarda, 1989; Wilson, 1996). Although all fathers may face difficulties with
financial hardship and employment problems, young fathers and nonresident fathers (i.e. fathers wo do not
reside with their children) are particularly vulnerable, as they are more likely to have low levels of education
and job experience, to be in poor health, to have a history of involvement with the criminal justice system,
to earn low hourly wages, and to work fewer hours (The Future of Children, 2004). A lack of employment
opportunities is of particular concern because the lack of stable employment and adequate income limits
fathers’ ability to financially support children, including difficulty making child support payments
(Sorenson & Lerman, 1998). Studies show that fathers often want to provide financial support to their
children, but lack the means to do so (National Women’s Law Center, 2004). While some programs do exist
to help fathers gain stable employment, increase their incomes, and make child support payments, few
fathers are currently served by such programs (Bronte-Tinkew, Bowie, & Moore, 2007; (Bronte-Tinkew,
Burkhauser, Mbwana, Metz, & Collins, 2008; Bronte-Tinkew, Burkhauser, & Metz, 2008) Johnson, Levine,
& Doolittle, 1999). The current review examines a number of employment/self-sufficiency programs for
fathers that have been evaluated and that can begin to answer the following questions: What practices have
been found to be successful in programs aimed at increasing self-sufficiency and employment among low income
fathers? What matters? What really works? This review helps to begin answering these questions
more definitively.

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