Florida Celebrates Responsible Fatherhood Month, Touts New Funding to Engage More Dads

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It’s Father’s Day today and Florida is celebrating Responsible Fatherhood Month. But not everyone has an active father in their life. This is something the heads of state hope to help change.

A new state law that goes into effect July 1 with the start of the fiscal year earmarks dollars to support programs aimed at getting dads more involved.

“Every child has a father, but only an involved father can be a dad,” House Speaker Chris Sprows said.

Sprows championed legislation that will support mentoring and career development efforts for dads to give them the tools to become more involved with their children. He said one in four American children grows up without a father at home and he says that can have lasting impacts.

“From poverty to crime to incarceration, just about every negative outcome we see facing boys here in Florida and across the country can be linked to an absent father in a home,” said Sprouts.

Eric Hall, head of Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice, recently hosted a roundtable and press conference about the new law and initiatives.

Hall said many young people in the Department of Juvenile Justice grew up in single-family homes, but many of their fathers would like to be more active, but don’t know how.

“He thinks what this bill does is it helps advocate by harnessing those resources at the local level, connecting our families and our fathers, but I think it comes down to what the data says” , Hall said. “We have fathers who are not as present as we had hoped, so how can we create the conditions for their success and the success of their children through these paths which ultimately lead to greater mobility for them and their families? »

Hall said his agency is uniquely positioned to resolve the issue on both sides. At the Department of Juvenile Justice, many young people would benefit from having more active fathers, but he said many are also parents themselves.

“We have many of our young people who are in the system whether it is through our prevention programs, our probation programs and our community intervention services or in our residential programs, we have young men who are fathers today or who are future fathers. And to help support their efforts to become fathers and engage, we’re launching a mentorship initiative called DJJ Dads,” Hall said.

Hall and other state agency heads are looking at ways to be a better “megaphone” for informing fathers of programs available to support them and he says part of that includes working to connect with parents. community leaders to connect with fathers and families who could benefit from the programs. Officials hope to create these pathways now with funding to help support new efforts that should begin to flow with the start of the new fiscal year.

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