Paula Fomby

Paula FombyPolicies and programs aimed at helping at-risk families generally focus on mothers and their children. But there’s growing acknowledgement of the important role fathers play in the lives and achievements of their kids, according to a Feb. 23 article in The Atlantic. Unfortunately, with 24 million American children being raised in homes without their biological fathers, according to the 2011 Census, fewer kids have regular contact with their dads. Such children are four times more likely to be poor, and they also often lack the stability of a single father figure; one study noted that after parents break up, children experience an average of more than 5.25 parental partnership transitions. ISR researcher Paula Fomby told The Atlantic that there hasn’t been much research yet on the impact of multiple parent figures on children. But the research there is suggests that parental figures without blood ties often do less for children. That could be because of obligations to support children fathered with other women, or because of uncertainties about their appropriate roles.