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Gov. Ron DeSantis signs bill to provide $70 million to encourage, help fathers support their kids

Ron DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis |

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed a bill allocating $70 million toward initiatives that support and encourage fathers to take an active role in their children's lives. Former NFL football player Jack Brewer described the law as “the order of God.”

DeSantis held a press conference in Tampa, Florida, on Monday, where he signed House Bill 7065. The legislation, which passed with unanimous support among lawmakers in both the Florida House and Senate, will provide $70 million in state funding to support initiatives designed to encourage responsible fatherhood.

“If you look over the last many decades, one of the worst social trends has been the decline of fatherhood and we do have, in many instances, a fatherhood crisis in this country,” said DeSantis as he began the press conference. 

As the governor held the hands of his two daughters, he highlighted the importance of fathers playing an active role in their children’s lives and warned of the harms that can result when they don't.

“If you look at the statistics, 90% of homeless and runaway children did not have a father in their home,” he said. “Seventy percent of high school dropouts did not have a father in their home, and 60% of youth who commit suicide did not have a father in their home.”

The bill authorizes the creation of a Responsible Fatherhood Initiative, which “must provide an opportunity for every father in the state to be able to obtain information and inspiration that will motivate and enable him to enhance his abilities as a father, recognizing that some fathers have greater challenges than others and would benefit from greater support.”

Fathers in the state will have access to a website and other electronic resources where they can find parenting information and support resources. Resources will also come from the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse.

The law also enables the state government to “award grants to not-for-profit community-based organizations to address the needs of fathers” by “assisting them in finding employment, managing child support obligations, transitioning from a period of incarceration, accessing healthcare, understanding child development, and enhancing parenting skills.”

Other grants authorized by the law will go toward mentorship programs for at-risk male students in middle and high school. Students would be given access to programs to provide training for future employment. 

The Jack Brewer Foundation’s American Heroes Initiative, which partners professional athletes and local leaders with fatherlessness youth across the U.S. to “bridge the cultural gaps that are escalating [due] to the absence of spirituality and positive male influence” was highlighted at DeSantis' press conference. Part of the program's curriculum teaches boys financial literacy. 

Brewer attended the press conference alongside youth participating in the American Heroes Initiative, who wore shirts emblazoned with the organization’s logo. In remarks at the press conference, Brewer warned that mental health issues are on the rise “because we have fatherless children who are getting indoctrinated in our public schools.”

“We talk about [critical race theory] and all these other things. Those are not our issues. Our issues are we are indoctrinating kids that don’t have a sound household,” he stressed.

While he expressed gratitude that “this bill is changing all that,” Brewer suggested that “this is a spiritual battle and they cannot be fought with flesh and blood.” Brewer declared: “You need a father, you need the order of God and that is what this bill does.”

“This bill is just not about someone giving you some money, it’s about calling all you dads out there and you moms to coach your husbands, your boyfriends, your sons, your fathers. Hold them accountable because they need to be reaching out to some other kids.”

Brewer lamented that “we’ve got 18.6 million fatherless kids in this country,” between 600,000 and 700,000 of whom live in Florida. “We can’t fix this problem with just this bill. We need to work with our hands like Jesus told us to do: serving the sick, touching the broken-hearted and visiting those in prison. We must all be held accountable and it starts today behind the leadership of this governor that I love in Jesus’ name.”

At the press conference, DeSantis pointed to New York Times columnist David Brooks' piece in The Atlantic that asserts “the nuclear family was a mistake.” DeSantis vowed that “in Florida, we are not going to be following this propaganda.” ... “We’re going to put programs in place that support fathers and help families stay connected and engaged with each other.”

DeSantis summarized the contents of the bill, which include the creation of a “statewide awareness campaign to call attention to the importance of responsible fatherhood and to equip fathers with resources to stay engaged in their children’s lives” as well as “grant opportunities for nonprofit organizations” that use “evidence-based parenting education to help fathers stay engaged and to connect with their children.”

“The bill also will support case managers who will help fathers find employment, transition from incarceration and to better manage their obligations,” the governor added. “The bill also supports and creates mentorship programs at the Department of Juvenile Justice for at-risk youth.”

The governor signed the bill with one of his daughters on his lap and the other by his side before opening up the floor to other speakers, including NFL coach Tony Dungy, who heads an organization called All Pro Dads, and Brewer.

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

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