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Thanks to fathers who stay involved with kids

June 20, 2009

To the editor:

Research has shown when both parents are actively and positively involved in their children's lives, the children are more likely to lead healthy and productive lives. This Father's Day, we acknowledge the complementary and supportive roles fathers play in the lives of their children.

Families come in all shapes and sizes - intact families, mothers serving as primary caregivers, fathers serving as primary caregivers. Whatever the situation, parenting is a team effort even more so when both parents are not in the home.

In the news, we often hear about those parents who are ordered to pay child support, but continually fail to do so. When this happens, the outcomes for children can be grim - children who don't receive the financial and emotional support of both parents are three times more likely to be poor and four times more likely to receive public assistance.

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Here at the Washington County Department of Social Services' Child Support Enforcement Office, however, we see firsthand how many parents support their children both financially and emotionally, despite the challenging economic times we face today. In Washington County, more than 73 percent of noncustodial parents consistently pay their child support.

To that end, this Father's Day, as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of this recognition, let's do away with the stereotype of deadbeat and applaud the dads who are "on beat." These dads invest time and attention to being a parent.

Whatever their contribution - teacher, role model, economic provider, caregiver, advocate, protector or disciplinarian - their involvement has so many positive outcomes. Children with involved, loving fathers are significantly more likely to do well in school, have healthy self-esteem, develop better cognitive skills and exhibit empathy and pro-social behavior than children who have uninvolved fathers.

At the Washington County Child Support Office, we are proud to deliver child support services for our community. We work hard to ensure parents provide not just the economic support their children need, but also are well-positioned to provide emotional support. Last fiscal year, we collected $14.8 million on behalf of children and families. We serve 5,853 cases.

In addition, we help families establish a connection to their heritage with paternity establishment. Fathers who need assistance with enhancing their parental skills or employment skills are provided these services through our Dad's Connection (301-790-4002) and the Non-Custodial Parent Employment Program (240-420-2564).

We are here to help, whether enforcing child support obligations, reviewing orders for possible upward or downward modification, or providing referrals to community partners that can assist with other needs.

To all of the fathers who support their children in so many ways, happy Father's Day and thank you for being there for your children.

David A. Engle
director
Washington County Department of Social Services

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