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Family - FATHER-CHILD HOUSEHOLD

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Two or more people related to each other by genetics, adoption, marriage, or in some interpretations, by mutual agreement.

Family is broadly defined as any two people who are related to each other through a genetic connection, adoption, marriage, or by mutual agreement. Family members share emotional and economic bonds. The term nuclear family is used to refer to family members who live together and share emotional, economic, and social responsibilities. The nuclear family is often comprised of a married couple who are parents to their biological or adopted children; all members live together in one household. This type of nuclear family is increasingly referred to by social scientists as an intact family, signifying that the family had not been through a divorce, separation, or death of a member.

In addition to the nuclear family, other complex and diverse combinations of individuals lead to what social

Traditional family sitting down to dinner at the turn of the twentieth century. (The Library of Congress. Reproduced by permission.)

scientists call blended or nontraditional families. When a family has experienced divorce or death leaving one parent to be primarily responsible for raising the children, they become a single-parent family. (The terms broken family and broken home are no longer widely used because of their negative connotations.)

Following the end of one marriage, one or both of the ex-spouses may enter a new marriage. Through this process of remarriage, stepfamilies are formed. The second spouse becomes a stepparent to the children from the first marriage. In the family formed by the second marriage, the children from each spouse's first marriage become step-siblings. Children born or adopted by the couple of the second marriage are half-siblings to the children from the first marriage, since they share one parent in common.

In some cases, a stepparent will legally adopt his or her spouse's children from a previous marriage. The biological father or mother must either be absent with no legal claim to custody, or must grant permission for the stepparent to adopt.

In situations where a single parent lives with someone outside of marriage, that person may be referred to as a co-parent. Co-parent is also the name given to the partner in a homosexual relationship who shares the household and parenting responsibilities with a child's legal adoptive or biological parent.

The home which was owned by the family prior to a divorce or separation is referred to as the family home in many state laws. In court settlements of divorce and child custody issues, the sale of the family home may be prohibited as long as the minor children are still living there with the custodial parent. The sale of the home may be permitted (or required to pay the noncustodial parent his or her share of its value) if the custodial parent moves or remarries, or when the children leave home to establish their own residences.

The term extended family traditionally meant the biological relatives of a nuclear family; i.e., the parents, sisters, and brothers of both members of a married couple. It was sometimes used to refer to the people living in the household beyond the parents and children. As family relationships and configurations have become more complex due to divorce and remarriage, extended family has come to refer to all the biological, adoptive, step-, and half-relatives.


FATHER-CHILD HOUSEHOLD


In June 1997, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the number of single fathers with children under 18 grew from 400,000 in 1970 to 1.7 million in 1995. That same year, government data shows that 2.5 million children lived with just their fathers—48% of whom were divorced, 28% were never married, 18% were married but not living with their wives, and 5% were widowed.

For children living with their father only:

  • Median family income was $23, 155 (1994).
  • Percent that were classified as poor: 26%.
  • Six out of ten lived with at least one sibling.
  • Percent of fathers with high school diplomas: 76%.
  • Percent of fathers with a bachelor's degree or more: 12%.
  • Percent with a father who was working: 79%.
  • Five out of 10 lived in rental housing.

For children living with both parents:

  • Median family income was $46, 195 (1994).
  • Percent that were classified as poor: 11%.
  • More than eight out of ten lived with at least one sibling.
  • Percent with at least one parent with a high school diploma: 86%.
  • Percent with at least one parent with a bachelor's degree or more: 29%.
  • Percent with at least one parent working: 85%.
  • Less than 3 out of 10 lived in rental housing.

Government agencies and other statistics-gathering organizations use the term head of household to refer to the person who contributes more than half of the necessary support of the family members (other than the spouse); in common usage, the head of household is the person who provides primary financial support for the family.

Further Reading

Bernardes, Jon. Family Studies: An Introduction. New York: Routledge, 1997.

Elkind, David. Ties That Stress: The New Family Imbalance. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1994.

Eshleman, J. Ross. The Family: An Introduction. 7th ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1994.

Kephart, William M. and Davor Jedlicka. The Family, Society, and the Individual. 7th ed. New York: Harper Collins, 1991.

Ohio Cooperative Extension Service. Changing Families, Challenges and Opportunities. Columbus, OH: Ohio Cooperative Extension Service: The Ohio State University, 1988. (Four sound cassettes, covering the subjects of latchkey families, single-parent families, strengthening step-families, and two-income families.)

Strong, Bryan and Christine DeVault. The Marriage and Family Experience. 4th ed. St. Paul: West Publishing Co., 1989.

White, James M. Dynamics of Family Development: A Theoretical Perspective. New York: Guilford Press, 1991.

Further Information

Family Service Association of America (FSA), formerly the Family Welfare Association of America). 11600 West Lake Park Drive, Milwaukee, WI 53244, (414) 359–1040,(800) 221–3726.

Step Family Foundation (SFF). 333 West End Avenue, New York, NY 10023, (212) 877–3244 (Disseminates information on step families, provides counseling and training service, and publishes informational materials.)

Family Size [next] [back] Emotional Development - Early infancy (birth-six months), Later infancy months) (7-12)

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As tested and used by H.E.W. in 1968-1970, during the C.A.S.S. demo project in FL, MN, ME.

---------------------------

PART 1. DEFINITIONS of "FAMILY", "HEAD‑OF‑FAMILY", AND "CASE"



FOR ALL WELFARE PROGRAMS COVERED UNDER THE SOCIAL SECURITY ACT OF 1932, AS AMENDED



Section: 1. The operational test of the Case and Administrative Ser­vice System (C.A.S.S.) demonstrated that the legal basis of this set of definitions:



(a) Encourages consideration and work with the total family, thereby furthering the national goal of strengthening family life.



(b) Provides consistency in determining what constitutes a family case and continuing certainty as to the individuals who are and continue to be members of a family.



(c) Minimizes subjective determinations.



(d) Provides an objective basis for setting up new family cases of family members establishing their own fam­ilies and reduces the extent of cross‑referencing between cases, while facilitating the research related to members leaving a family for some reason.



(e) Allows for the appropriate identification of families and/or indivi­dual family members who are temporary or continuing beneficiaries of particular programs, without such programs controlling the overall definition of a family or the make‑up of a case. It allows for multiple federal programs to provide aid, either assistance payments of some sort, or services of some sort, without counting the same family, or family member multiple times when reporting to Congress.



(f) Offers a realistic basis for Programs related to families and individuals since the rights and respon­sibilities of legally joined family members are spec­ified in lay terms commonly accepted by society.



(g) Reduces the mechanics of record keeping and provides a means of auditing Program expenditures.



Section 2. There is presently a lack of agreement as to the structure and relationships which constitute a family. One agency will consider all persons living under one roof as a fam­ily, while another agency will work with the same group of persons and class them as a family, multiple families, or a household. At the same time one individual may be spec­ified as an "other essential/-significant/impor­tant person."



Compounding the problem, it is presently possible to have a fam­ily receiving services from one county while receiv­ing assistance payments from another county (or State), with the results counted as two (or more) fami­lies. It is doubtful, therefore, that valid Program infor­mation is repor­ted, as required by various Federal agencies, relat­ed to a family or group of families. Without valid sta­tis­tics Congress, and the planning agencies directly in­volved, must be hard pressed to arrive at cost efficient solutions for achieving stated Program goals.



An additional problem is that of accounting to Congress and the American taxpayer for the monies spent by each Program as they attempt to efficiently provide services and assistance payments to recipients. With the lack of a valid accounting system comes the possibility that there is inefficient, if not fraudulent, use of funds and thereby a neglect of persons who are in need of services or income assistance.



The C.A.S.S. project employed these terms during field testing in Florida, Maine, and Minnesota with success, in terms of Case Worker/­recipient involvement and for Admin­istrative purposes.



To aid in remedial action of the problems in Section 2, the regu­lation would impose these uni­form definitions on all agencies report­ing to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare ‑ related to the above terms:



(1)"Family" means the unit of society legally created by marriage, birth or adoption, regardless of the whereabouts of its individual members. A family may be either a single or multiple person unit. Reaching majority (by State law), marriage, or birth to a mother out‑of‑wedlock creates a new family unit.



Examples are shown here:



i. Single person family ‑ Never married

Divorced, not remarried

Widow/widower, or



Child only (parents dead or rights termin­ated



ii. Multiple person family ‑



Husband and wife

Husband, wife, and child/children

Mother and child/children

Father and child/children

Children only



(2) Head‑of‑family; means the male spouse, female spouse or oldest child in that legal priority. (In the case of children‑only it may be necessary, for functional pur­poses, to appoint an acting Head‑of‑family, such as the Program agency.



(3) Case; means either the Family Case or the Individual's Case depending on the context within which the term is used. The term "case", used by itself, will be taken to mean Family Case as defined above to include all members of the family.



Section 3. Operational use illustrates the application of these definitions as shown in the following examples, which are not meant to be all inclusive:



A married couple, without children, cease to be a mul­ti-person family through death, divorce or legal separa­tion. Parents cease to be members of a multi-person family through death or legal termination of their parental rights.



Similarly, in divorce, one parent as determined by the court action ceases to be a member of the family. In which case the one ceasing to be a member of the original family, becomes a ‘family’ in its own right. The previous ‘case’ number will then be part of the new ‘family’ record using the data element ‘previous case number’.



Children cease to be members of a multi-person family through death, reaching the age of legal majority under State law, adoption or marriage. In addition, children old enough under State law to qualify for marriage, cease to be members of a multi-person family by giving birth to a child out‑of‑wedlock.



In the case of termination of par­ental rights for both parents, or upon the death of both parents, the children continue to constitute a family until they leave it through one of the above reasons.