Poverty, welfare policy, parenting, Early Head Start, stigma, families, strength perspective


A system that increasingly stigmatized its recipients only became more stigmatizing with the enactment in 1996 of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) program. This program has been so successful in deterring cashneedy people from applying for assistance that the decline in participation from the start of the program continues-even in times of economic downturn. The study reported here follows 150 impoverished families during the first three years of PRWORA, when the economy was booming. The data were derived from the Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project of 1996-2001. Through this secondary analysis a construct was developed that measured the men's identity as fathers. In keeping with PRWORA's use of the labor market as the source for economic well-being, the research studied the relationship between the construct for the fathers' identity and the fathers' long-term employment, and found the construct to positively affect the fathers' employment.

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