More programs targeting absent fathers

admin | 11/8/2011, 5:26 a.m.

White House grants $119 million in fatherhood initiative

President Barack Obama grew up without really knowing his father. The lack of having his dad involved in his day-to-day life is part of the reason he remains so concerned about the state of fatherlessness in America, according to White House officials. Recently, the Administration for Children and Families announced that over $119 million in grants had been awarded to 120 grantees. Research points to a growing divorce rate and out-of-wedlock births as being key contributors to children growing up without fathers in their lives. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one-third (33 percent) of all births are to unmarried mothers. Among Blacks, that number rises to 69 percent. In Florida, 63 percent of Black children living in single parent homes. These grants support programs that promote responsible parenting, encourage healthy relationships and marriage and help families move toward self-sufficiency and economic stability, said George Sheldon, the acting assistant secretary for children and families for the Department of Health and Human Services. The grants were divided among community-based programs and institutions that support the goals of the Responsible Fatherhood Program and the Healthy Marriage Program. The South Florida Task Force for Fatherhood, Inc., had hoped their program would be chosen to receive a grant. Even though they weren't, Holly Zwerling, president and CEO of the Task Force, says they will keep plugging away. We want to make a film about fatherhood and we want to go out into the community and interview fathers, she said. The $119 million in grant awards were a portion of the $150-million fund to promote healthy marriages and responsible fatherhood. The remaining monies will be used for additional activities such as research and a responsible fatherhood clearinghouse. By Kaila Heardkheard@miamitimesonline.com