House bill targeting father engagement passes unanimously

by | Feb 17, 2022


 

House Bill 7065 (HB 7065) unanimously passed the Florida House late Wednesday evening, seeking to enact a wide-ranging series of measures to promote father engagement in the lives of children and prioritize resources through the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to help current and former foster system children.

A chief effort of the bill would direct the department to contract for the production of the “Responsible Fatherhood Initiative,” partnering with a yet-to-be-decided company to launch a website and circulate materials that would inform fathers on effective parenting. The fatherhood initiative would include a print, television, and social media campaign to serve as public service announcements.

“From poverty to crime to incarceration, just about every negative outcome we see that faces boys here in Florida and across the country, can be linked back to an absent father in the home,” said House Speaker Chris Sprowls.

Under the bill, DCF would additionally be required to award grants to non-profit organizations to address the needs of fathers. To exemplify, the bill would require that grants be geared toward helping fathers in seeking employment, managing child support obligations, transitioning from a period of incarceration, accessing health care, understanding child development, and enhancing parenting skills.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, children from fatherless homes account for:

  • 63 percent of youth suicides
  • 90 percent of all homeless and runaway youths
  • 85 percent of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders 71 percent of all high school dropouts
  • 70 percent of juveniles in state-operated institutions
  • 75 percent of adolescent patients in substance abuse centers

Senate President Wilton Simpson placed child welfare as one of his principal concerns for the ongoing 2022 Legislative Session, making a vow in his opening remarks to amend the risk children living in homes without fathers face.

“The earlier in life we can give a child a safe permanent home, the better opportunities that child will have for the rest of their lives,” said Simpson, who was adopted as a child and grew up in a house with foster children,” said Simpson. “Costs of early childhood care are consistently identified as one of the biggest barriers for would-be foster families. We will address the gap between what the voucher pays and the actual costs of early childhood care. We need to make sure more children raised by their foster relatives have access to the waiver.”

Wilton went on to endorse the House bill on Wednesday.

A similar bill, Senate Bill 1708 (SB 1708), was drafted by Sen. Ileana Garcia and is now working its way through appropriations. The bill seeks to actualize similar measures as HB 7065, also adding the stipulation that homeless youth and young adults would be able to receive a waiver to bypass the fees related to obtaining their birth certificate.

2 Comments

  1. Billy West

    Big talk. Until they give dads and their families decent health care — or even a working Unemployment system — these blowhards are just being hypocritical. STFU Tallahassee.

    Reply
  2. Lena

    Sometimes correlation is not causation. Sure, we’d all like healthy dads to be a part of a functional family.

    But, let’s get real. Many men are not good people, much less good dads. If they are abusive, have substance abuse issues, etc, they don’t belong with anyone’s kids.

    They SHOULD pay child support, but many don’t. A political campaign is not going to make these men good dads–ever. They aren’t going to magically be less abusive or give up their social time or substances to be present for their kids.

    The real reason that single-mom kids suffer is money. Women get paid 1/3 less and moms are discriminated against in the workforce. You can’t deny it. Employers know that single women are going to put their kids’ needs first and that responsible dads will put in more overtime while their wives will take care of the kids first.

    The best thing you can do for families is PAY AND PROMOTE WOMEN EQUALLY. Then they can raise their kids well and safely and not in poverty.

    Reply

Leave a Reply to Lena Cancel reply

%d bloggers like this: