Obama Launches Fatherhood Initiatives

AP

Barack Obama
AP

Striking a personal note the day after Father's Day, President Obama today announced a set of new proposals to help fathers become more engaged in their children's lives.

The White House is launching a nationwide fatherhood and mentoring initiative, Mr. Obama said, in a call to action with states, cities and nongovernment organizations to raise awareness about responsible fatherhood.

Speaking at an arts and recreation campus in Washington, Mr. Obama also proposed a Fatherhood, Marriage and Families Innovation Fund, which would provide funding for community projects that assist fathers. Those programs could include job training, parenting skills classes and domestic violence prevention.

He also outlined a transitional jobs initiative for men leaving prison so they can meet their child support obligations, as well as a plan for special re-entry courts for fathers leaving prison.

Mr. Obama said there are "too many fathers missing from too many homes," and that "when fathers abandon their responsibilities, there's harm done."

He added, "I say this as someone who grew up without a father in my own life."

While government can't force fathers to be present in their children's lives, Mr. Obama said, it can send a message that there's no excuse for failing to meet parental obligations.

He spoke fondly of his own experiences of a father, saying, "The most challenging, most fulfilling, most important job I will have in my time on this earth is to be Sasha's and Malia's dad."

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