THE FIRST FATHER: PERSPECTIVES ON THE PRESIDENT'S FATHERHOOD INITIATIVE

Authors


jdweaver@smu.edu

Abstract

This article presents an analysis of the thirteen-year-old President's Fatherhood Initiative utilized by the executive branch to tackle the problem of absent fathers in America. It argues that this social policy attempts to recapture the economic incentives central to the controversial Moynihan Report of 1965, emphasizing patriarchal and classist solutions to America's family crisis. The programs instituted through the Fatherhood Initiative stigmatize black and brown fathers and fail to address underlying government policy issues that impact their ability to be present and financially supportive in their children's lives. The programs still emphasize the marriage dyad as a cure-all rather than seeking to support the various family forms that exist today, calling into question whether the Fatherhood Initiative has contributed to the improvement of children's well-being.

Key Points for Family Court Community:

  • President's Fatherhood Initiative is a national family policy that recycles the Moynihan Report of 1965, turning the focus from African-American matriarchal-run families to absentee fathers.
  • Almost half of over $1.5 billion dedicated to the President's Fatherhood Initiative has been used to promote marriage to low-income, minority fathers, while research shows that investment in increasing the level of education of biological fathers would have a greater effect on their commitment to the mothers of their children and financial ability to care for their children.
  • Many of the missing fathers are in prison, and focus on eliminating the mass incarceration of African-American men would go a long way towards improving the number of fathers who are present with their families.
  • After sixteen years, there is still no comprehensive evaluation that gauges how successful the Fatherhood Initiative has been in improving children's well-being.
  • Fatherhood and Marriage are not synonymous, and the executive branch should concentrate more on supporting the networked families and home environment of poor children in order to improve their well-being.

Ancillary