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The Importance of Fathers in the Healthy Development of Children
Office on Child Abuse and Neglect, U.S. Children's Bureau Rosenberg, Jeffrey., Wilcox, W. Bradford.|
|Year Published: 2006|
9. Federal Fatherhood Initiatives
The Federal Government has increasingly been involved in developing programs and policies to strengthen and support the roles of fathers. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has taken the lead in developing a special initiative guided by the following principles:
- All fathers can be important contributors to the well-being of their children.
- Parents are partners in raising their children, even when they do not live in the same household.
- The roles fathers play in families are diverse and related to cultural and community norms.
- Men should receive the education and support necessary to prepare them for the responsibility of parenthood.
- Government can encourage and promote father involvement through its programs and through its own workforce policies.115
The Department's activities also recognize that there are circumstances under which increased involvement by a father or a mother may not be in the best interest of the child and support family preservation and reunification efforts when they do not risk the safety of the child.116
The Toolkit for Fatherhood, developed by HHS, provides fatherhood programs and interested individuals with tools and information related to fatherhood and fathering such as the Responsible Fatherhood Management Information System, funding and program development, and related Web sites. HHS Regional Offices are working to coordinate fatherhood activities throughout the States and have sponsored a variety of forums to bring together local public and private organizations and individuals to support fathers' involvement in their families and communities.
The Toolkit for Fatherhood and additional lists of resources, research, funding, and programs on the fatherhood initiative can be found at http://fatherhood.hhs.gov/index.shtml.
Several bills have been presented before Congress on legislation to strengthen and support the roles fathers play in the lives of their children by including the following:
- Encourage the formation and maintenance of healthy two-parent, married families; encourage responsible fatherhood; and prevent and reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies.
- Provide for the demonstration, evaluation, and dissemination of information concerning promising approaches to promoting and supporting involved, committed, and responsible fatherhood, and promoting and supporting healthy marriages.
- Establish block grants to States and territories to implement, at their option, media campaigns promoting the formation and maintenance of married, two-parent families; strengthen fragile families; and promote responsible fatherhood.
- Develop a national clearinghouse to assist States and communities to promote and support marriage and responsible fatherhood.
- Award competitive matching grants to eligible entities to help fathers and their families avoid or leave welfare and to improve their economic status.117
While none of these bills have yet been enacted, interest continues and the potential for more active support for the importance of fathers in the lives and development of their children continues to grow.
115 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
(n.d.). Fatherhood initiative [On-line]. Available: http://fatherhood.hhs.gov/index.shtml. back
116 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). back
117 National Fatherhood Initiative. (n.d.). Legislative updates [On-line]. Available: http://www.fatherhood.org/. back
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