June 17, 2010
WASHINGTON, DC--Ways and Means Income Security and Family Support Subcommittee Chairman Jim McDermott (D-WA), delivered the following statement today at a subcommittee hearing on responsible fatherhood programs:
"Every parent can benefit from some level of guidance on how to be more responsive to the needs of their children. This is particularly true for non-custodial parents, many of whom are not actively engaged in their child's life. Researchers estimate that 60 percent of children born in the 1990s will spend a significant portion of their childhood in the home without their father.
"Many single mothers do a fine job of raising children on their own, but fathers have an important role to play, too. Responsible Fatherhood Programs help non-custodial parents- in most cases men, but in some cases women- develop the skills they need to build strong healthy relationships with their children.
"These programs link fathers to support services that will help them meet their parental responsibilities. Programs like this can be particularly beneficial to low income dads who face obstacles in meeting their financial obligations.
"The challenges facing low-income dads are similar to the problems confronting low-income mothers. Many of these dads experience difficulties in finding good paying jobs, or live in communities with concentrated levels of poverty and have difficulty securing affordable housing.
"As a number of policy experts have indicated, some men who are not financially supporting their children are not 'dead beats', but simply 'dead broke'. While a number os safety-net services are available to custodial parents there are a limited number of services that are available to non-custodial parents.
"They also provide critical help with job training and job search skills that will put these men in a better position to financially support their children. But while fatherhood programs play a role in providing important life skills and job training activities to non-custodial dads, the ultimate goal of these programs should be to improve the overall well-being of children.
"Today's hearing will review the use of responsible fatherhood programs in improving the emotional and financial bond between non-custodial parents and their children. We will hear from the Administration on President Obama's proposal to create a new Fatherhood, Marriage and Family Innovation Fund.
"Federal Funding for Responsible Fatherhood Grants is schedule to expire at the end of the fiscal year.
"As we look towards reauthorization, it is important that we review their effectiveness in improving the relationship between non-custodial parents and their children, and their success in supporting child well-being.
"In recognition of his long standing work on his issue, I want to yield Mr. Davis my remaining time to make some brief comments."