Policies and Programs Affecting Fathers: A State-by-State Report Chapter 10: Health and Mental Health

Jan 2022 | Jessica Pearson & Rachel Wildfeuer

Children do best when they have parents who are physically and mentally healthy. This chapter looks at policies states can adopt to improve the health picture for low-income, nonresident fathers. Since a key cause of their negative health picture is their lower rate of health insurance coverage, states can help by extending ACA and Medicaid coverage to low-income fathers. This might be accomplished by routinely assessing the health insurance status of both the custodial and nonresident parent in new and modifying child support cases along with the children, which is required under federal law. By doing so, both uninsured children and their parents could be referred to navigators at the Medicaid agency and/or the health insurance marketplace to help them procure coverage. Another way to improve the health status of nonresident fathers and their children would be to develop two-generation programs dealing with nutrition, exercise, smoking, and substance use. Current 2Gen efforts to improve nutrition and physical activity do not specifically target fathers. A third approach is to incorporate fatherhood with substance abuse treatment and other human services programs. Research suggests that fatherhood programming improves father engagement, motivation, and outcomes. 

Download Chapter 10: Health and Mental Health at the link below. 

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