Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill on Monday to invest $70 million in programs that support involved fatherhood in the state.
HB 7065, dubbed the “Responsible Fatherhood” bill, aims to encourage fathers to take an active role in their children’s lives and provides grants to community-based membership programming.
It will help fund resources for educational and mentorship programs to assist children, fathers, and families in Florida through the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) and the Department of Children and Families (DCF).
The funding will enable DJJ to launch a mentorship program for at-risk youth, which will include programs including barbershop talks and fatherhood classes.
DCF will create a campaign to raise awareness of the importance of fatherhood and will support nonprofit organizations to help fathers remain engaged and connected with their children. The funding will also support case managers and resources to help fathers looking for employment opportunities.
The initiative sets aside $32.6 million for grants aimed at helping fathers and will provide $1,720 stipends for young adults who were in foster care.
More than 18 million children in the U.S. live without a biological, step, or adoptive father at home, U.S. Census Bureau data show.
“This has a severe impact on children and often leads to dropping out of school, crime, and substance abuse,” DeSantis said
“Incredibly, there are those who diminish the importance of fatherhood and the nuclear family — we will not let that happen in our state,” he said. “I am proud to say we are doing everything we can to support involved fatherhood in Florida.”
The law goes into effect July 1.