TAMPA, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill on Monday to provide more than $70 million to support fatherhood in his state.
Governor DeSantis signed House Bill 7065, the “Responsible Fatherhood” bill, into law around 10:30 a.m. The child welfare bill focuses on encouraging fathers to take an active role in their children’s lives and provides grants to community-based membership programming.
“This bill is tied to $70 million in funding to provide a wide array of family and youth support through our Department of Children and Families as well as our Department of Juvenile Justice,” he said. “They will be working very closely to support fatherhood throughout our state.”
According to the 2021 U.S. Census Bureau, there are 18.4 million children and 25% live without a biological, step, or adoptive father in the home.
The President of Prisoners of Christ, Jeffrey R. Witt, said most of the inmates come from broken homes.
“It’s the outlier of the annual event to have both parents in the family when we deal with somebody who has been incarcerated,” Witt said.
The money will go towards programs that help fathers find jobs, transition from being in jail, and getting a parenting education.
Prisoners of Christ helps ex-offenders find an employment rebuild family relationships once they’re out of prison. Witt said funding programs like these are necessary to create better family dynamics.
“A ministry like this that helps an ex-offender also helps children, they are connected. All of society is connected,” Witt said.
The bill would also provide grant funding to Florida nonprofit organizations like All Pro Dad, an organization created by former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Tony Dungy.
The new law will also designate June as “Responsible Fatherhood Month.”
Here’s a breakdown of the Responsible Father Initiative:
- $32.6 million goes towards grants aimed at assisting fathers
- $1,720 stipends for young adults who were in foster care
- More funding to Department of Children and Families programs
- More funding Department of Juvenile Justice programs
The law goes into effect July 1.