Federal Partnerships Help Dads
A Look Inside OCSE - Story Series
Research shows that children are happier and healthier when their fathers are involved in their lives. They advance physically and socially and have better academic outcomes. A father’s presence also positively influences children’s brain and language development. The advantages don’t end there. Both parents benefit when fathers are engaged. Mothers’ stress levels go down; fathers report enjoying more purpose in life. Parents consistently advise child support caseworkers that their willingness to pay support is closely linked to the amount of involvement they have with their children, and there is research to support this connection.
At OCSE, we work with a variety of federal partners to conduct fatherhood outreach at the state and community level. We are also committed to helping reduce risks and increase safety for victims of domestic violence, and we ensure that our partners share this commitment.
One of our key fatherhood outreach partnerships is with the Office of Family Assistance around their responsible fatherhood grants. Fathers within these responsible fatherhood programs cite challenges paying their child support orders, navigating the child support system, requesting modifications to their orders when their financial situations change, and having access to their children. We work with child support agencies across the U.S. to create relationships with local responsible fatherhood grantees.
Through these relationships, we help fathers understand how to meet their child support obligations and stay engaged in their children’s lives. These partnerships are also opportunities to dispel common child support myths held by fathers and fatherhood program staff.
The Office of Head Start (OHS) is another one of our critical fatherhood outreach partners. We’re working with OHS to integrate child support information into trainings for Head Start agencies. Our goal is to help Head Start families understand the resources available to them through the child support program. In turn, OHS is sharing their father engagement techniques with us so that we can support father-friendly cultures within child support offices. OHS has years of experience with father engagement and valuable resources like their Father Engagement Birth to Five Programming Guide. OHS practices have shown that when dads are engaged, they’ll respond positively.
Outside of the Administration for Children and Families, we partner with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on their Strong Families Initiative. The program promotes fathers’ involvement in the lives of their children and families as a way to lead to positive outcomes on health, development, and well-being. Public housing authorities host events for resident families so they can spend time together and get information from community service providers. Here at the federal office, we facilitate connections so that local child support staff can attend and share information with these families.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
James Murray leads veteran and military outreach activities for the Office of Child Support Enforcement. This story was originally published in the June 2018 Child Support Report.