Federal Fatherhood Policy and Practice
Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families Act of 2009

Senators Evan Bayh (D-IN) and Representative Danny K. Davis (D-IL) introduced the Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families Act of 2009 on June 19, 2009. The companion bills will:

  • Fund job training programs and community partnerships to help parents find employment;
  • Fund financial literacy programs and budgeting education, employment services, and mediation and conflict resolution for low-income parents;
  • Ensure that child support payments to families do not count as income and result in loss of food stamps;
  • Restore cuts in federal child support enforcement funding to help state and local governments collect $13 billion in additional payments for single parents;
  • Require states to send 100 percent of all child support payments to the single parent within five years, rather than letting states take a portion of money for administrative costs;
  • Prohibit unfair and unequal treatment of two-parent families receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), ensuring the state work participation standard is the same for all families;
  • Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit to increase the incentive for full-time work and fulfillment of child support obligations; and,
  • Fund programs designed to protect the families who have been affected by domestic violence.

Senator Bayh commented, “Our government spends $100 billion a year to deal with the fallout of absent fathers. The government can’t pass a law to make men good dads, but we can support local programs that specialize in job training, career
counseling and financial literacy to help those men who embrace their parental responsibility and are trying to earn a livable wage to do right by their kids. I am glad President Obama is starting a national conversation to draw public attention to the critical role that fathers play in raising responsible, healthy adults.”


Representative Davis stated, "No one argues that there is any one model of family structure but the elimination of government barriers to healthy relationships and healthy marriages, the promotion of cooperative parenting skills and the fostering of economic stability and the provision of incentives to non-custodial parents to fulfill financial and emotional support responsibilities are clearly in the interests of millions of children, We must do more to ensure all children have opportunities to become productive citizens--through revised income support, health care, and education policies. This will require new thinking about federal investments and more focus on prevention and longer term investments."

The House version of the bill was named after Julia Carson, the late Indianapolis Congresswoman who championed fatherhood throughout her career.  House co-sponsor and grandson Congressman Andre Carson added, "Our current system too often has benefits set up in a way that encourages single parent households rather than two-parent families. The unintended consequence, of course, is that parents have a disincentive to remain together.  My grandmother's vision-and this bill- focuses on changing the system so that it's more pro-family and creates incentives for both parents to work together to raise their children."


Sponsors' press releases: Senator Evan Bayh and Representative Danny K. Davis

Other Federal Fatherhood Policy and Practice Issues

Vicki Turetsky, Commissioner of the Federal Office of Child Support commented recently in the Child Support Report publication on the connection between the Child Support program and the support of Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families - read more


The Earned Income Tax Credit is generally viewed as the most successful federal poverty reduction program.  Over the past year, increasing numbers of policy makers and analysts have promoted the extension of this program to men, particularly nonresident father who are paying child support.  Here is a piece from the Progressive Policy Institute on the topic, titled Dads Need Help Too.


What Works in Fatherhood Programs: Ten Lessons from Evidence-Based Practice, report published by the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (NRFC) in 2008.  The report identifies and details 10 common features from "model" fatherhood programs.  For more information visit the NRFC website, www.fatherhood.gov

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