Mission and History

Mission Statement

The mission of the Center for Family Policy and Practice (CFFPP) is to strengthen society through the expansion of opportunities for low-income parents – mothers and fathers – to protect and support their children. CFFPP operates as a policy think tank to remove the unique barriers and negative public perceptions that affect low-income men of color. Through technical assistance, policy research and analysis, and public education and outreach, CFFPP works to support low-income families and develop public awareness of their needs.

Fundamental to this mission are the following principles:

  • In order to preserve the well-being of children, public policy must preserve the well-being of children’s parents and caretakers.
  • Individuals and communities have the right to live and exist free from all forms of violence, including interpersonal and structural violence.
  • Public policy must actively and effectively promote the economic viability of families.
  • Public policy must address the impact of race, class, and gender on people’s lives by developing and promoting social systems that are culturally relevant and responsive.
  • Public policy must support individuals as they create families of their own choosing.
  • Public policy must support social justice and reflect respect for humanity.

Agency History and Perspective

Founded in 1995 as the policy arm of the Ford Foundation’s Strengthening Fragile Families Initiative, the Center for Family Policy and Practice (CFFPP or the Center) examines the impact of national and state welfare, fatherhood, and child support policy on low-income parents and their children.

The Center is a progressive policy think tank that uses technical assistance, policy research and analysis, and public education and outreach to advocate on behalf of low-income families and develop public awareness of their needs. Because of limited advocacy and policy analysis from the perspective of very low-income and unemployed men of color, the Center focuses on their perspective with regard to these issues. In particular, we concentrate on noncustodial parents who are in financial positions equivalent to custodial parents who qualify for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and other public assistance programs. These parents typically have very low earnings and have unstable and intermittent, if any, employment. While this scope may seem narrow, it includes large numbers of people, many of whom are African American and Latino men who are frequently the subject of economic and family policy in the United States. Due to their status as noncustodial parents, these men are largely ineligible for social welfare services and support, despite sharing the same level of need as their children and their children’s mothers. In addition, these men make up the bulk of parents who are struggling with child support.

A 2007 study of child support arrears commissioned by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services calculated that “70 percent of arrears were owed by obligors who had either no reported income or reported income of $10,000 a year or less” (see Assessing Child Support Arrears in Nine Large States and the Nation, Sorensen et al.).

CFFPP enhances national advocacy efforts by providing policy analysis not only from the perspective of very low-income men of color, but by simultaneously foregrounding the interests and welfare of women and children. We provide education and information on the need for comprehensive social services in low-income communities that address the complex issues families face – issues such as poverty, violence, employment insecurity, and discrimination. Furthermore, while a popular approach to advocating for low-income adults promotes personal responsibility, the Center’s focus is on eliminating the structural barriers that impede men from making their full contribution to their families and communities.