Ensuring Noncustodial Parent, Father-Inclusive Lenses Are Applied to Decision-Making
Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Thursday, October 28, 2021
ENSURING NONCUSTODIAL PARENT, FATHER-INCLUSIVE LENSES ARE APPLIED TO
Anchored in racial equity and informed by families’ lived experience, 2Gen approaches build upon the power of education, early care and learning, health, and employment systems to ensure equitable access
to resources and opportunities for entire family units. Policymakers and practitioners at city, county, and state levels continue to embrace the 2Gen approach, and the field is encouraged by ongoing bipartisan
commitment at the federal level. The Two-Generation Economic Empowerment Act and the Pathways to Health Careers Act are two positive and concrete steps toward ensuring that prosperity passes from one
generation to the next.
But too often — at all levels — leaders fall short of ensuring that custodial and noncustodial, resident and nonresident, father-inclusive lenses are applied to their decision-making. Regardless of intent, this results in
harmful consequences that undermine the economic security, health, and well-being of children and the adults in their lives.
We saw this at the onset of the pandemic with Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act guidelines for exempting cash assistance from federal tax offsets. While offsets to pay taxes, educational loans,
and other government debts were granted exemptions to ensure cash flowed to families, the act did not exempt direct cash payments from offsets to pay child support arrears. This meant that across the country, as
many as 2.1 million noncustodial parents — most of whom are fathers — in the child support program did not receive full cash assistance because they owe child support arrears assigned not to families but to states to pay
back Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance received by families. If — as is the case in this example — the intention is to ensure that children and families have access to
resources to meet their basic needs, we must intentionally, explicitly, and consistently apply noncustodial parent, father-inclusive lenses to decision-making.
As leaders at all levels, in public and private sectors, plan and execute immediate and long-term efforts to ensure families bounce back stronger, now is the time to embed father-inclusive, noncustodial parent lenses
into platforms and processes.
Opportunities to do so include:
Incorporating a gender analysis into decision-making processes
Disaggregating data around race, gender, and parental status
Explicitly identifying noncustodial caregivers and fathers as target populations within family-supportive policies and programs
Revisiting eligibility requirements based on residential status (i.e., whether or not caregivers live in the same household as their children)
Training staff on implicit bias
Operationalizing father-friendly principles and practices
Strengthening Families for Success Act Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR), Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Representative Danny Davis (D-IL) have introduced legislation to improve federal programs designed to promote healthy co-parenting and financial stability for families with low incomes. To ensure that families receiving TANF benefits get as much of the money collected through child support payments as possible and help caregivers maintain healthy co-parenting relationships, the legislation would:
Modernize child support by eliminating cost recovery for TANF, Title IV-E foster care maintenance payments, and Medicaid birth costs by fiscal year 2026 while providing bridge funding to help states implement these changes.
Reauthorize the Healthy Marriage Promotion and Responsible Fatherhood grant program through fiscal year 2025, establish infrastructure for grantees to measure outcomes and receive technical assistance, and ensure continuity of services during a public health emergency.
Address the COVID-19 public health emergency’s impact on the child support program and families by providing emergency flexibility during the pandemic and exempting 2020 Economic Income Payments from the CARES Act from reduction or offset.
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