Responsible Fatherhood law offers opportunities to local nonprofits

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A new law promoting fatherhood in Florida goes into effect on Friday.

Governor DeSantis signed House Bill 7065, the “Responsible Fatherhood” bill, into law back in April.

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.

$70 million dollars is going to different programs throughout the state. One of the programs that will be on the receiving end of some of that money is in Duval County: Fatherhood P.R.I.D.E.

Jack Johnson, Fatherhood P.R.I.D.E Program Director, said the money will open opportunities for more local fathers.

“Some of the messages are they have to be tough, they are saying that they have a teacher boys to keep their feelings tucked inside,” Johnson said. “A lot of these young fathers are just boys themselves and some of them did not have father figures to help them transition from boyhood to manhood.”

Johnson believes this will allow fathers to have easier access to resources that were already around, even from previous federal funding, but were hard to find at times.

The Fatherhood P.R.I.D.E. program serves up to 100 fathers every year. It provides resources like working with case managers, parenting classes, navigating through systems such as child support, and even job interview workshops.

The new funding now requires the state departments -- including the Department of Children and Families and Juvenile Justice programs -- to work with local programs to provide those services.

Another program benefitting from the new bill is the Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition which helps prevent infant mortality.

It’s one of 32 programs focused on the issue, across the state.

Erin Addington, Chief Operating Officer at Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition, is excited for the nonprofit.

“This is the only program that we have for that to be able to help them out with anything they need for their family, that they need to be able to be the best dad they can be,” Addington said.

Johnson and Addington said they expect to have a better idea of exactly how much money their programs will get within the next few weeks.

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