This symposium, comprised of three complementary presentations, fits well with the Society for Social Work and Research 2022 Conference theme of Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice, because it highlights social work research that advances racial, social, and economic justice for marginalized populations, including Black and Latinx men, noncustodial fathers with low income, and fathers who have experienced financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic. The symposium also allows for critical reflection on how to better define poverty in social work research with such samples of men. Findings from this symposium make important contributions to social work practices to promote marginalized fathers' engagement with their children and strengthen families experiencing economic hardship. More broadly, by centering the experiences of socioeconomically disadvantaged fathers, this symposium speaks to social work's core professional value of building a more socially just world through eradicating racism, alleviating poverty and economic inequality, and fighting the adverse effects of COVID-19 on behalf of this group.
The first study, Examining Mechanisms Linking Economic Insecurity to Interparental Conflict in Unmarried Residential Father Families with Low Income, describes processes through which economic hardship affects parental mental health and interparental relationship in unmarried residential couples, a sample mostly comprised of Black and Latinx. The second study, Joint Physical Custody and Parenting Competence Among Noncustodial Fathers with Low Income, focuses on low-income noncustodial fathers' parenting efficacy in the context of joint physical custody. The third study, Understanding Financial Well-Being and Father-Infant Relationships During the COVID-19 Pandemic, examines how financial dissatisfaction of residential fathers who are racially diverse during COVID-19 is associated with father-infant attachment. These three papers complement each other given their mutual focus on marginalized fathers' parenting related experiences in the context of economic hardship, as well as their aim to improve family strengthening programs and policies.
Shawna J. Lee, whose expertise is in fathers' parenting behaviors and father-child relations, will serve as the discussant. Given her extensive experience investigating low-income fathers' parenting practices and the structural challenges such fathers face, her commentary contributes a translational component that speaks to how social workers can serve low-income fathers and thus best support their children and families.