A Ray of Hope for Fatherless Children in the Sunshine State

April 14, 2022

It's a statistic that cannot be emphasized enough: one in four children in America grow up without a father in the home. As our country lurches from one crisis to the next, it is the surge in crime that is perhaps the most unsettling crisis of all. As average Americans witness the breakdown of law and order and feel unsafe in their communities, one can't help but get a sense that our society is gravely ill and on the verge of breakdown. While the Left flails around trying to explain away the crime surge, a simple hypothesis remains stubbornly clear: if one in four American children grow up in homes without the formative law and order that an involved father provides, common sense tells us that this absence of law and order is going to manifest itself in society when these fatherless children grow up and leave the home.

To the chagrin of the progressive Left, it's hard to find a better or more concise fact-based statistical explanation to illustrate this reality than former President Barack Obama's quote from a 2008 Father's Day speech: "[C]hildren who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and 20 times more likely to end up in prison."

This grim reality unfortunately doesn't end there for fatherless children. They are also at greater risk of having behavioral problems, of dying in infancy, of becoming pregnant as teenagers, of suffering abuse and neglect, of abusing drugs and alcohol, of becoming obese, and more. Indeed, the consequences of fatherlessness are so far-reaching that even progressives like Obama instinctually know just how fundamental the crisis is. As he went on to say in the same speech: "[T]he foundations of our community are weaker because of it."

This is what makes the signing of a new bill in Florida this past Monday by Governor Ron DeSantis (R) to address the fatherhood crisis so encouraging: it received unanimous bipartisan support in both the State House and Senate. It's a hopeful sign that the fundamental importance of fatherhood has the potential to transcend party lines.

As the driving force behind HB 7065, the first bill of its kind in the nation, Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls (R) recognized that there was indeed a "uniting" factor that affects societal ills that desperately needed to be addressed. "[When] you look at suicide rates, depression, drug abuse, incarceration, really any ill you can think of in society, the single most uniting statistical factor of those things is an absent father," he said on "Washington Watch."

The bill allocates $70 million to boost state programs that are, in part, designed to provide parenting resources to absent fathers in order to get them back into their children's lives. The grants "will be targeted at issues such as helping fathers find employment, manage child support obligations and transition from a period of incarceration." The bill also includes grants to create a "Responsible Fatherhood Initiative" media campaign as well as grants to bolster foster programs, including increasing stipends for young adults who were previously in the foster care system and are now in postsecondary schools.

"[W]e know if we can help solve for [the fatherhood] part of the equation, we could save that child's life," Sprowls observed. "We could set them on a pathway to success, that they're going to be far more likely to achieve it. So it's worth fighting for."

After signing the bill, Governor DeSantis acknowledged that government funding for grant programs is just a small part of helping to solve the absent father crisis -- it is primarily up to men to step up and take advantage of the opportunities put before them. "We're putting our money where our mouth is. We're here showing the importance of this. But you've got to be willing to do the right thing and be present in your child's life. You're not a man by leaving your kids hung out to dry. You need to be there," he said.

To help men reach their full potential, Family Research Council founded Stand Courageous, a ministry aimed at helping men become the husbands, fathers, providers, protectors, instructors, and chaplains they were created and designed to be. Find out more about how you can attend an event and take advantage of the resources available.