Program

Dec 15, 2008

OVERVIEW

The Parents’ Fair Share Demonstration (PFS)
was implemented in an effort to increase the capacity and willingness of
noncustodial parents to support their children. PFS was executed in seven
different states across the country from 1994 to 1996. The program provided
noncustodial parents, the majority of whom were fathers, with a variety of
services to encourage child support payments, employment and earnings as well as
involvement in their children’s lives. On the whole, PFS had a slight impact on
formal child support provided by fathers but did not seem to influence paternal
employment or improve levels of involvement with child.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target
population:
The Parents’ Fair Share Demonstration was directed at
low-income, urban, noncustodial parents. Program eligibility required that
parents have at least one child on welfare, child support infractions, be
unemployed or in a low-wage job, as well as be part of the Child Support
Enforcement system.

PFS was designed to
address a variety of needs among this population. One concern was how parents
would cope amid the increasing shift of responsibility from public welfare to
families. Another was the fear that these families were predominantly low-income
and would therefore have a difficult time meeting these new responsibilities and
finally, that the worsening labor market would prevent parents from ever
reaching self-sufficiency. In exchange for cooperation with the Child Support
Enforcement (CSE) system, community organizations collaborated to provide
various services under the umbrella of PFS.

PFS offered peer
support groups, employment and training sessions, and to help with mediation between
parents. The goal was to improve a noncustodial parent’s involvement with his
child. According to PFS, involvement consisted of formal and informal child
support, frequency of contact with the child and custodial parent, as well as
other measures of active involvement.

EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM

Knox, V.W. &
Redcross, C. (2000). Parenting and providing: The impact of parents’ fair
share on paternal involvement.
New York: MDRC.

Evaluated
population:
The Parents’ Fair Share Demonstration targeted 5,611 parents
without custody of their children. Of those noncustodial parents involved, 74
percent were in good health, 60 percent were African-American, 23 percent were
Hispanic, 15 percent were white, 47 percent did not hold a high school diploma,
and they had an average annual income of $5,863.

Approach:
Noncustodial fathers were randomly assigned to a control group or to the PFS
group upon entering the program. The average noncustodial parent participated in
PFS for five months; two-thirds of the PFS group participated in at least one
activity. The evaluation used four different sources to collect data on the
participants. Outcome data were collected approximately twelve months after
enrollment, subsequent to completion of the program.

The primary data
source was a custodial parent survey in which 2,005 parents responded either in
person or over the phone. The response rate was approximately 90.2%. Child
Support Enforcement also supplied payment records, PFS collected a Background
Information Form, and noncustodial parents completed a survey as well. 553
fathers (78%) responded to the survey; however 102 of them were excluded because
they lived with the custodial parent.

Measures of
fathers’ involvement included financial support (formal and informal, as well as
in-kind) and nonfinancial involvement (contact with child, parenting and
parents’ relationship). It is important to note that outcome data includes all
participants referred to PSF although only 70% actually participated in the
program.

Results: The
program’s impact was evaluated according to financial support, father-child
contact, involvement in child rearing, and conflict between parents. For
purposes of this guide, we will only consider outcomes directly related to child
wellbeing. Father-child contact was measured by the frequency or length of
visits and did not change significantly among PFS parents. Those parents with
particularly low visitation rates, however, seemed to benefit the most. The PFS
program also has no apparent effect on a father’s involvement in child rearing.
Finally, conflict with parents revealed that most parents did not change the
amount they interacted; however there was a small increase in those who reported
frequent disagreements. It is important to note that the parents did not report
simultaneous increases in conflict, which may indicate that parents were simply
struggling to share the responsibility of parenting.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

References

Knox, V.W. &
Redcross, C. (2000). Parenting and providing: The impact of parents’ fair
share on paternal involvement.
New York: MDRC.

Website:

http://www.mdrc.org/project_12_39.html

Program
categorized in this guide according to the following:

Evaluated
participant ages: all ages / Program age ranges in the Guide: 0-5, 6-11, 12-14

Program components:
parent or family component

Measured outcomes:
social and emotional health and development

KEYWORDS: Male-only; Black/African American; Urban; Fatherhood Parenting, Parent or Family Component; Skills Training; Social Skills/Life Skills; Parent-Child Relationship, Other Relationships

Program
information last updated on 12/15/08.

 

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Child Trends 2004