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By Meghan McCann

Child support programs across the country have increasingly focused efforts on programs that will not only increase child support payments, benefitting the child, but also will put noncustodial parents in a position to consistently pay support and remain involved with their children.

Father and sonA key component of this effort is father engagement. NCSL’s Child Support Project tracks legislation regarding father engagement and workforce services in our Child Support and Family Law Legislation Database.

Most recently, research from Rutgers University Assistant Professor Lenna Nepomnyaschy, published in the March 2014 issue of Social Service Review, shows that when fathers are engaged in the lives of their children, food insecurity decreases among kids in both early and middle childhood. More than 1-in-10 children in the U.S. experience food insecurity and are three times more likely not to get enough food, particularly in single mother households. Involvement in this context may include child support contributions, time spent, or “in kind” support, such as gifts, groceries, and payment of medical or childcare expenses. “In kind” support showed a 10-12 percent reduction in food insecurity. One theory behind these finding is that when fathers are more involved and provide more for the child, the mother or custodial parent has more resources to devote to the child and is generally less stressed, leading to enhanced parenting and support.

Visit NCSL’s Child Support Project Homepage for more information about what states are doing to improve child support results for children.

Meghan McCann is a policy associate in NCSL’s Human Services Program.

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This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.

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