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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release June 17, 2000

PRESIDENT CLINTON PROMOTES RESPONSIBLE FATHERHOOD New Actions to Help More Fathers Succeed in Their Most Important Job

Today in his weekly radio address, President Clinton will mark the first father's day of the 21st century by highlighting the critical role that fathers play in their children's lives and taking new actions to help more fathers succeed in this most important job. The President will release a new report that provides communities with information and tools to increase fathers' involvement in their children's learning, and will direct federal agencies to develop guidance on federal resources and opportunities for promoting responsible fatherhood in communities around the country. He will also announce new data showing that the Administration's efforts to collect child support continue to pay off, with an additional 10 percent increase in collections over the past year, and a new program to match delinquent parents with financial records that found nearly 900,000 accounts with a total value of about $3 billion. The President will urge Congress to enact his budget initiatives to promote responsible fatherhood and support working families. These actions build on President Clinton and Vice President Gore's long-standing commitment to strengthen the role of fathers in their children's lives and to help more fathers provide the emotional and financial support their children need.

THE BENEFIT OF FATHER INVOLVEMENT. Research demonstrates that father involvement during infancy and early childhood contributes to children's development of emotional security, curiosity, problem solving, and math and verbal skills. Higher levels of father involvement in activities with their children such as eating meals together, going on outings, and helping with homework, are associated with fewer behavior problems and a higher level of school performance among children and adolescents. In 1997, the Vice President and Secretary Riley released a report which found higher student achievement correlated with greater fathers' participation in learning - students living in two-parent families with highly involved fathers were over 40 percent more likely to get mostly As, and even when fathers are not living with their children, but remain highly involved in their learning, students were one-third more likely to get mostly As.

RELEASE NEW GUIDE TO ENHANCE FATHERS' INVOLVEMENT IN CHILDREN'S LEARNING. Today the President will release a new report from the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services that offers educators, Head Start programs, and other early childhood providers with information, strategies and tools to inform, promote, and celebrate fathers' increased participation in children's learning. The report,"A Call to Commitment: Fathers' Involvement in Children's Learning," is part of a series of efforts by Secretaries Riley and Shalala to help communities fathers' participation in their children's learning, including readiness to learn at home, at school, and in the community. When fathers are involved in their children's education and learning, children learn more, perform better in school, and exhibit healthier behavior.

DIRECT FEDERAL AGENCIES TO PROVIDE GUIDANCE ON SUPPORTING RESPONSIBLE FATHERHOOD EFFORTS. The President will issue an Executive Memorandum directing the Secretaries of Agriculture, Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Labor and the Attorney General to develop interagency guidance on federal resources and opportunities for promoting responsible fatherhood. This will help the growing number of states, local governments, community- and faith-based organizations, and fatherhood practitioners working to help fathers address issues such as employment, parenting, and child support.

RELEASE NEW EVIDENCE THAT CHILD SUPPORT MEASURES ARE WORKING.The President will release new data showing that the Administration's child support enforcement strategies continue to pay off. Final FY 1999 figures show child support collections increased another 10 percent in the past year, reaching a record of nearly $16 billion - double the collections in 1992. New tough and effective collection tools have contributed to this progress, such as a new program established in 1999 which matches records of parents who owe child support with multi-state financial institution records, and has already identified nearly 900,000 delinquent parents with financial accounts valued at about $3 billion. This encouraging news builds on a strong Clinton-Gore Administration record of making sure that parents who are not living with their children provide the financial support their children need and deserve, compiled in a new summary of child support accomplishments from the Department of Health and Human Services.

URGE CONGRESS TO ENACT RESPONSIBLE FATHERHOOD INITIATIVES. The Clinton-Gore Administration's FY2001 budget substantially expands efforts to promote responsible fatherhood and strengthen families. To build on the investments and partnerships under the Welfare-to-Work program and the Workforce Investment Act, the President's budget requests $255 million for the first year of a new Fathers Work/Families Win initiative, which will help at least 40,000 low-income fathers and 40,000 low-income working families work and support their children. The President's budget would also allow states to simplify child support distribution rules, reward states that pass through more child support payments directly to families, and extend Welfare-to-Work grants to help more non-custodial parents and long-term welfare recipients move into lasting unsubsidized jobs. In addition, the Administration's proposal to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit - by nearly $24 billion over ten years - would provide as much as $1,200 in tax relief to an estimated 6.8 million hard-pressed working mothers and fathers. Unfortunately, the spending bill passed by the House last week fails to include any funding for Fathers Work/Families Win. The President will call on Congress to work across party lines to pass a budget that ensures more fathers can live up to their responsibilities.

BUILDING ON THE CLINTON-GORE ADMINISTRATION'S LONGSTANDING COMMITMENT TO PROMOTING RESPONSIBLE FATHERHOOD. Both President Clinton and Vice President Gore have long recognized that responsible fathers are essential to building strong families and communities. Strengthening fathers' involvement begins with fathers themselves, with the support of their families and communities. Four years ago President Clinton directed all federal agencies to review their policies, programs, and research agendas to support and incorporate men in their role as fathers, to ensure that the federal government is leading the way in supporting fathers. With Vice President Gore's leadership, we have made significant progress in promoting greater father involvement, within the federal workforce, through federal programs and resources, and partnerships with states and communities, foundations, and the research community.