This review examines ways in which institutions and agencies act as barriers to paternal involvement, particularly for unmarried fathers and fathers of color. These fathers are frequently portrayed as unwilling, uninterested parents who must be forced by the government to take responsibility for their children, and this perspective lays the foundation for punitive policies and practices. The review begins by addressing research that has sought to determine the actual amount and kinds of support disadvantaged fathers provide for their children. The next sections describe how specific policies actually deter young men's involvement with their families and suggest ways of making legislation and social service agencies more conducive to fathers. The review concludes with recommendations for policy and future research. Throughout the review, the argument is made that while policies and practices may not actively seek to discourage paternal participation in the family, negative assumptions that result in the dismissal of fathers as viable parents result in fathers' disengagement. (author abstract)
Barriers in child support policy: A literature review
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