Fatherhood and Family Engagement : Supporting Dads and Helping Kids


NCSL 2013 Legislative Summit: Aug. 13, 2013


Economic and cultural shifts have changed family life and the role of fathers. Leading fatherhood experts talk about ways states can support dads and facilitate their involvement in their children’s lives, which increase a father's ability to meet the financial and emotional needs of their children. 



Joe Jones is founder of the Center for Urban Families (CFUF), a Baltimore, Md., nonprofit service organization established to empower low-income families by enhancing both the ability of women and men to contribute to their families as wage earners and of men to fulfill their roles as fathers. His ability to engage and provide hands-on services to fathers garnered him the reputation of trailblazer in the field. Jones is now a national leader in workforce development, fatherhood and family services programming, and through his professional and civic involvement influences policy direction nationwide.


Kathryn Edin is one of the nation’s leading poverty researchers, working in the domains of welfare and low-wage work, family life, and neighborhood contexts.Edin has authored five books with a sixth forthcoming and some 50 journal articles. The hallmark of her research is her direct, in-depth observations of the lives of low-income women and men. In her new book, "Doing the Best I Can: Fathering in the Inner City," published in May 2013, Edin and Timothy Nelson report on in-depth interviews with unmarried low-income fathers who tell their side of the story. Across the political spectrum, unwed fatherhood is considered one of the leading social problems of today. "Doing the Best I Can" is a strikingly rich, paradigm-shifting look at fatherhood among inner-city men often dismissed as “deadbeat dads.” "Doing the Best I Can" shows how mammoth economic and cultural changes have transformed the meaning of fatherhood among the urban poor. The book reveals a radical redefinition of family life, one that has revolutionized the meaning of fatherhood among inner-city men.