President Obama unveiled a new fatherhood program designed raise awareness about responsible fatherhood and to re-engage absent fathers with their families. The program will include several facets, such a proposed "Fathering Re-Entry Court," to be created by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. The Court would assist fathers leaving prison by offering mentors and assistance to secure jobs and services so they can begin the process of paying child support and getting back in touch and connecting with their families.
President Obama also urged Congress to pass a $500 million budget request for a Fatherhood, Marriage and Families Innovation Fund, which would provide grants for nonprofits promoting fathers and families.
Obama spoke to a crowd of family advocates in Washington, D.C. and shared stories of his own childhood. Obama was raised by his mother and grandparents and remarked that he missed the presence of his father, who left when he was two years old. While Obama remarked that he was aware of the limitigations of the government to impact fatherhood, he felt that by having the government reach out it could positiely implact the lives of children.
"I can't legislate fatherhood," Obama told an audience at the ARC in Southeast Washington the Washington Post reports. "I can't force anybody to love a child....What we can do is come together and support fathers who are willing to step up."
Despite the love and care of his mother and grandparents who "poured everything they had into me and my sister...I still felt the weight of that absence. It's something that leaves a hole in a child's life that no government can fill," Obama said.