Policies and Programs Affecting Fathers: A State-by-State Report Chapter 11: Responsible Fatherhood

Jan 2022 | Jessica Pearson & Rachel Wildfeuer

This chapter discusses state programs, policies, and expenditures for fatherhood. We present information on state-by-state programs to prevent adolescent pregnancy and encourage responsible parenting, TANF expenditures on fatherhood, grants for fatherhood programs by the federal government through the Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood (HMRF) grant program, multi-agency commissions, councils, and committees to promote father inclusion, and other two-generation and/or anti-poverty approaches at the state level that either address fathers or might be expanded to include fathers as part of their scope. We find that despite the approval of a dedicated federal funding stream of $75 million per year for fatherhood through the HMRF grant program and the investment of over $1 billion in awards to programs that offer fatherhood services since 2006, the fatherhood field continues to struggle with limited funding, short-term grants, and cuts during tough economies. More to the point, Ohio is the only state to have a legislatively authorized fatherhood commission that is funded and has dedicated staff.  Making lasting changes to improve the status of low-income fathers and include them in the policies and programs that serve their children and families will require creating and sustaining dedicated multi-organizational efforts to overcome fragmentation and inflexible regulations and funding streams in state agencies and programs.

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