Black fatherhood

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Black fatherhood

Black fatherhood

Emboldened by the reduction in the welfare rolls, conservatives have renewed their demands that our welfare system reflect traditional family values, specifically marriage.

But if marriage becomes the heavily favored family strategy of welfare policy, family-service providers and other supporters of responsible fatherhood will find it harder to help families as they actually exist -- families that are not always headed by married couples.

President Bush, an outspoken supporter of strong marriages, has responded to this conservative social agenda with several policy initiatives. First, the administration's new welfare-reform proposal adds a few key words to the fourth goal of the welfare-reform act: Then, the plan encourages states to provide pared-down child support and commits the federal government to share in the costs.

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This proposal may soften the opposition from some women's groups to the marriage emphasis. However, the plan only pays lip service to responsible fatherhood and provides no dedicated federal funds to support such efforts.

Thus, responsible-fatherhood groups will have to rely exclusively upon Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or other state funds, for which there are many competing priorities.

Anticipating this new political and policy climate, several fatherhood groups that work in predominantly black communities are preparing to expand services to include marriage. CFWD is a community-based responsible-fatherhood program that also provides job placement and wage- and career-growth services to disadvantaged fathers in Baltimore.

The goal is to encourage fathers, whether married or not, to become more involved in their children's lives, both emotionally and financially, and to develop a better relationship with the child's mother. NPCL is a national intermediary organization that has trained more than 2, community-based practitioners and agencies that sponsor them.

It works, through federally funded demonstration projects, to combine child-support enforcement and workforce-development efforts in support of fragile families, so that fathers have both the means and the commitment to contribute to the support of their children.

The organization's recent international conference brought together more than 1, responsible fatherhood practitioners from the United States and around the globe. Both organizations are now developing marriage curricula. IRFFR, founded in the s, is perhaps the oldest community-based responsible-fatherhood program in the country.

These groups, and others with roots in the black community, did not need to be persuaded by the current political climate that marriage was vital to rebuilding strong black families.

Some observers may accuse them of opportunism or of selling out to the conservative agenda. However, few of these groups opposed marriage in principle, though they did object when the early rhetoric made marriage seem like a panacea -- and when proposals began to surface to make marriage a condition of services or bonus payments.

The rhetoric has now become more reasonable. The Bush administration intends to promote "healthy, stable, and happy marriages" and will target its marriage-promotion efforts at couples who choose to receive such services.

Like most Americans, black fatherhood groups support this and wish that all the unwed parents who come to them for help were in a position to benefit from such services. As Andrew Billingsley points out in his book Climbing Jacob's Ladder, blacks generally have strong family values; however, they often struggle under difficult conditions that make it tough to act on those values.

For this reason, Billingsley argues, black communities have had more diverse and complex family systems than whites for as long as blacks have been in this country. Fatherhood groups who work in low-income black communities see this diversity and complexity every day.

They also know that many young unwed parents, especially fathers, simply are unprepared to assume the responsibilities that would produce the kind of marriages that increase child well-being.

For this reason, these groups have expanded their services to help fathers make positive contributions to their children, even while unmarried, and to position themselves to assume the responsibilities that would make it possible for them to one day sustain happy marriages.

Black fatherhood

The new services focus on job retention, wage and career growth, and job placement. Besides employment services, groups are providing legal, educational, team-parenting, substance-abuse, child-support, health, mental-health, spouse-abuse, and other services to meet the needs of clients and their families.

They are also improving their capacity to measure program outcomes and diversifying their staff or strengthening existing staff, in hopes that welfare reauthorization would provide additional resources to improve their work with fathers and families.

These efforts are consistent with the goal of encouraging the formation and maintenance of two-parent families. But now the Bush administration has raised the standard to emphasize marriage per se.

And responsible-fatherhood groups that seek to promote marriage in predominantly black communities will find it hard to achieve this higher standard for several reasons. First, there are demographic realities. The percentage of black women of childbearing age say, 15 to 44 years old who have never married 41 percent is just about double the percentage of comparable white women.

Second, although cohabitation and unwed births have been rising while marriage has been declining among all race and ethnic groups, these trends are far from convergent for whites, blacks, and other groups.Jun 13,  · Which poses a bigger threat to black communities: Racism?

Or the absence of fathers? Drawing on a sea of official data and his own upbringing, talk-show host. Stafford Armstead is among the millions of Black fathers who defy the stereotypes about Black fatherhood.

He diligently cares for his three children alongside his wife, Nichole. Filmmaker Jordan Thierry offers context and conversation in this honest exploration of fatherhood in Black America.

Through a telling of his own story and interviews with historians, he traces the roots of the fatherless Black home and reveals a history much more complex and profound than is often told.

Battling stereotypes of the black father

This absence of the father, or "mistreatment", has resulted in the African-American crime rate being higher than the National average, African-American drug addiction being higher than whites, and rates of illegitimacy being at least 25% or higher than whites.

Khalid recently authored the book, Black Fatherhood: Trials & Tribulations, Testimony & Triumph. The book contains 14 unique, first-person narratives of Black fathers and families navigating contemporary relationship and parenting scenarios, in the San Francisco Bay Area. Father Facts 7.

T he premier reference manual for anyone interested in promoting responsible fatherhood and being a great dad, Father Facts 7 is the most comprehensive father absence and father involvement research available in one publication.

Black dads are overcoming obstacles for self, children and community