Spring 2013 - 62595 - PA680PB - Policy Research Project
The Child and Family Research Partnership
Increasingly children are born to unmarried parents. Today, approximately 42% of all births are nonmarital, but the rates are much higher among mothers who are less educated, younger, and racial/ethnic minorities. In the U.S., unmarried, biological fathers have no legal rights or responsibilities to their children until they legally establish paternity. In Texas, approximately 80% of unmarried fathers establish legal paternity, and most fathers do it at the child’s birth by signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity form (AOP). Fathers who sign the AOP are more likely to be financially and emotionally involved in their child’s lives as compared to fathers who do not sign the AOP, but there is considerable variance among fathers who establish paternity.
This PRP will survey the parents of approximately 300 three-year-old children who were born to unmarried parents. The goal is to determine the connection between the parents’ signing an AOP and subsequent formal and informal support of the children. Students will also survey a sample of 500 mothers and fathers who recently had a child to determine their reasons for signing or not signing an AOP, their information about paternity establishment, and their expected future use of formal and informal child support. Students will learn about the important role child support policies play in providing resources to millions of Texas families. In addition, students will learn how to sample a population, design a survey instrument, conduct phone interviews, analyze survey data, and clearly articulate the findings to a policy audience.
The client for the PRP is the Texas Office of the Attorney General, Child Support Division.The PRP will provide consultation and evaluation research to the Child Support Division of the Texas Office of the Attorney General on their innovative programs to ensure all children have two parents who are financially and emotionally committed to them.