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The SSRC Library allows visitors to access materials related to self-sufficiency programs, practice and research. Visitors can view common search terms, conduct a keyword search or create a custom search using any combination of the filters at the left side of this page. To conduct a keyword search, type a term or combination of terms into the search box below, select whether you want to search the exact phrase or the words in any order, and click on the blue button to the right of the search box to view relevant results.

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  • Individual Author: Doolittle, Fred; Knox, Virginia; Miller, Cynthia; Rowser, Sharon
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 1998

    Over the past 25 years, policymakers have come to acknowledge the link between lack of child support and the pressing problem of child poverty for a broad range of American families. With over 20 million children under age 18 now living with only one parent or neither parent, there is an urgency to develop more effective methods for obtaining support from noncustodial parents. Much of the public concern about child support has focused on the noncustodial parents (usually fathers) of children receiving welfare, a group for whom earnings and support payments tend to be low. Interest in these families has also been heightened by recent changes in federally funded public assistance, which are gradually leading states to impose various time limits on aid. Since poor families will have to rely even more on nongovernment sources of income in the future, their stake in successful child support enforcement (CSE) has dramatically increased.

    The noncustodial parents of children receiving welfare have largely been left out of the reform debate and programmatic initiatives, except as...

    Over the past 25 years, policymakers have come to acknowledge the link between lack of child support and the pressing problem of child poverty for a broad range of American families. With over 20 million children under age 18 now living with only one parent or neither parent, there is an urgency to develop more effective methods for obtaining support from noncustodial parents. Much of the public concern about child support has focused on the noncustodial parents (usually fathers) of children receiving welfare, a group for whom earnings and support payments tend to be low. Interest in these families has also been heightened by recent changes in federally funded public assistance, which are gradually leading states to impose various time limits on aid. Since poor families will have to rely even more on nongovernment sources of income in the future, their stake in successful child support enforcement (CSE) has dramatically increased.

    The noncustodial parents of children receiving welfare have largely been left out of the reform debate and programmatic initiatives, except as targets of increasing CSE efforts. Unfortunately for poor families, most of the recent CSE reforms have been more effective in increasing collections from noncustodial parents with relatively stable jobs and residence; many of the fathers of children receiving welfare do not fall within this group.

    The Parents’ Fair Share (PFS) Demonstration tests a new approach: in exchange for current and future cooperation with the child support system, a partnership of local organizations offered fathers services designed to help them (1) find more stable and better-paying jobs, (2) pay child support on a consistent basis, and (3) assume a fuller and more responsible parental role. Among the key services were peer support (focused on issues of responsible parenting), employment and training services, and an offer of voluntary mediation between the custodial and noncustodial parents. During the period in which parents participated in PFS services, the child support system gave them some "breathing room" and an incentive to invest in themselves by temporarily lowering their current obligation to pay support. CSE staff also closely monitored the status of PFS cases. When a parent found employment, CSE staff were to act quickly to raise the support order to an appropriate level (based on the state’s child support payment guidelines), and if a parent ceased to cooperate with PFS program requirements, CSE staff were to act quickly to enforce the pre-PFS child support obligation. The demonstration is a test of the feasibility of implementing this new "bargain" and its effects on parents, children, and the child support system.

    PFS rests on an unusual partnership of funders and program operators, including federal agencies, private foundations, states, localities, and nonprofit community-based organizations. Organized by MDRC, it began in 1992 with a pilot phase to refine the program model and test the feasibility of implementing it at the local level and, despite a variety of implementation challenges, moved into a seven-site demonstration phase in 1994.

    This report presents findings from the demonstration-phase implementation of the program, characteristics of the parents in the sample, and early impacts on two outcomes of interest (fathers’ earnings and child support payments). (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Hayes, Eileen ; Sherwood, Kay
    Reference Type: Stakeholder Resource
    Year: 2000

    The Responsible Fatherhood Curriculum is intended to assist fathers in more effectively fulfilling their roles as parents, partners, and workers. It was developed over a number of years' use in the peer support groups that were the "glue" of the Parents' Fair Share Demonstration for low-income noncustodial fathers. Anyone operating a program for fathers -- or even for mothers -- will find the curriculum a rich source of useful, down-to-earth material organized into 20 sessions on dealing with issues such as male-female relationships, fathers as providers, managing conflict and anger (on and off the job), and race and racism. The curriculum materials are contained in 21 files in PDF format, each containing the material for one session of the curriculum. Use the links in the Contents section below to access the session files. Each session has bookmarks to specific activities within the session that can be accessed using the "show navigation pane" option on the Acrobat Reader toolbar. (author abstract)

    The Responsible Fatherhood Curriculum is intended to assist fathers in more effectively fulfilling their roles as parents, partners, and workers. It was developed over a number of years' use in the peer support groups that were the "glue" of the Parents' Fair Share Demonstration for low-income noncustodial fathers. Anyone operating a program for fathers -- or even for mothers -- will find the curriculum a rich source of useful, down-to-earth material organized into 20 sessions on dealing with issues such as male-female relationships, fathers as providers, managing conflict and anger (on and off the job), and race and racism. The curriculum materials are contained in 21 files in PDF format, each containing the material for one session of the curriculum. Use the links in the Contents section below to access the session files. Each session has bookmarks to specific activities within the session that can be accessed using the "show navigation pane" option on the Acrobat Reader toolbar. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Knox, Virginia; Redcross, Cindy
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2000

    For the past two decades, the nation's efforts to reform the welfare system and the child support system have often proceeded on separate tracks. However, there has been a growing realization that neither has very explicitly considered how to work with the group of men who bridge them both: low-income noncustodial fathers whose children receive welfare. The Parents' Fair Share (PFS) Demonstration, run from 1994 to 1996, was aimed at increasing the ability of these fathers to attain well-paying jobs, increase their child support payments — to increase their involvement in parenting in other ways. These reports — one examining the effectiveness of the PFS approach at increasing fathers' financial and nonfinancial involvement with their children and the other examining the effectiveness of the PFS approach at increasing fathers' employment and earnings — provide important insights into policies aimed at this key group. (author abstract)

    For the past two decades, the nation's efforts to reform the welfare system and the child support system have often proceeded on separate tracks. However, there has been a growing realization that neither has very explicitly considered how to work with the group of men who bridge them both: low-income noncustodial fathers whose children receive welfare. The Parents' Fair Share (PFS) Demonstration, run from 1994 to 1996, was aimed at increasing the ability of these fathers to attain well-paying jobs, increase their child support payments — to increase their involvement in parenting in other ways. These reports — one examining the effectiveness of the PFS approach at increasing fathers' financial and nonfinancial involvement with their children and the other examining the effectiveness of the PFS approach at increasing fathers' employment and earnings — provide important insights into policies aimed at this key group. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Miller, Cynthia; Knox, Virginia
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2001

    Fathers provide important financial and emotional support to their children. Yet low-income noncustodial fathers, with low wages and high rates of joblessness, often do not fulfill their parenting roles. The child support system has not traditionally helped these men to do so, since its focus has been on securing financial support from fathers who can afford to pay. Meanwhile, fathers who cannot pay child support accumulate debts that can lead them to evade the system and its penalties altogether - and further limit their contact with their children.

    Parents' Fair Share (PFS) was designed as an alternative to standard enforcement. Launched in 1994 in seven sites, PFS was a national demonstration program that aimed to help low-income noncustodial fathers find more stable and better-paying jobs, pay child support on a consistent basis, and become more involved parents. Funded by the organizations listed at the front of this monograph, PFS provided employment and training services, peer support groups, voluntary mediation between parents, and...

    Fathers provide important financial and emotional support to their children. Yet low-income noncustodial fathers, with low wages and high rates of joblessness, often do not fulfill their parenting roles. The child support system has not traditionally helped these men to do so, since its focus has been on securing financial support from fathers who can afford to pay. Meanwhile, fathers who cannot pay child support accumulate debts that can lead them to evade the system and its penalties altogether - and further limit their contact with their children.

    Parents' Fair Share (PFS) was designed as an alternative to standard enforcement. Launched in 1994 in seven sites, PFS was a national demonstration program that aimed to help low-income noncustodial fathers find more stable and better-paying jobs, pay child support on a consistent basis, and become more involved parents. Funded by the organizations listed at the front of this monograph, PFS provided employment and training services, peer support groups, voluntary mediation between parents, and modified child support enforcement.

    Besides designing the PFS demonstration, MDRC evaluated it. Between 1994 and 1996, each of more than 5,500 fathers was randomly assigned to PFS or a control group, and the program's effects were estimated by comparing how the two groups fared over a two-year period. This monograph synthesizes the demonstration's key findings and uses them to formulate several recommendations for the next generation of fatherhood programs.

    Key Findings

    As a group, the fathers were very disadvantaged, although some were able to find low-wage work fairly easily. PFS increased employment and earnings for the least-employable men but not for the men who were more able to find work on their own. Most participated in job club services, but fewer than expected took part in skill-building activities.

    PFS encouraged some fathers, particularly those who were least involved initially, to take a more active parenting role. Many of the fathers visited their children regularly, although few had legal visitation agreements. There were modest increases in parental conflict over child-rearing decisions, and some mothers restricted the fathers' access to their children.

    Men referred to the PFS program paid more child support than men in the control group. The process of assessing eligibility uncovered a fair amount of employment, which disqualified some fathers from participation but which led, nonetheless, to increased child support payments. 

    (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Glazner, Judith; Bondy, Jessica; Luckey, Dennis; Olds, David
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2004

    This economic analysis of the Nurse Family Partnership (NFP) addresses three randomized trials carried out to examine long-term effects of the NFP on maternal, child, and family functioning. The analysis presented in this report provides information on both the persistence of home visitation program effects on government expenditures and on their ability to be reproduced in different settings. The authors analyzed government expenditures incurred by both comparison and treatment groups for three sites. Because of the differential timing of the intervention in the three sites, government expenditure data was analyzed for different periods in the lives of the study families. For Elmira families, government expenditures were analyzed for the period from the birth of the study child until the family was interviewed during the child’s 15th year. For Memphis, expenditures were analyzed for the period from the study child’s birth until the family was interviewed when the child was 4 ½. For Denver, the period analyzed was birth to 4 years. The study conducted is a net-cost analysis from...

    This economic analysis of the Nurse Family Partnership (NFP) addresses three randomized trials carried out to examine long-term effects of the NFP on maternal, child, and family functioning. The analysis presented in this report provides information on both the persistence of home visitation program effects on government expenditures and on their ability to be reproduced in different settings. The authors analyzed government expenditures incurred by both comparison and treatment groups for three sites. Because of the differential timing of the intervention in the three sites, government expenditure data was analyzed for different periods in the lives of the study families. For Elmira families, government expenditures were analyzed for the period from the birth of the study child until the family was interviewed during the child’s 15th year. For Memphis, expenditures were analyzed for the period from the study child’s birth until the family was interviewed when the child was 4 ½. For Denver, the period analyzed was birth to 4 years. The study conducted is a net-cost analysis from the standpoint of government spending. (author abstract)

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