March 21, 2022
Even in our hypersensitive age, where having the wrong political views can get you fired from your job, it still appears that certain facts of life are so fundamental that liberals and conservatives can occasionally agree on them.
Such was the case in Florida during the first week of March, where HB 7065, a bipartisan bill that, among other things, increases funding for fatherhood and mentorship programs, was passed unanimously in the Florida Senate (38-0) and sent to Governor Ron DeSantis’ (R) desk. Due to the initiative and leadership of Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls (R), the bill had previously passed the House with another unanimous vote of 117-0.
Despite some on the Left who openly question whether fathers “are necessary,” it’s great to see such a unified front in Florida when it comes to acknowledging the massive problem of absent fathers and the formulation of concrete policies to help right the ship. As the introduction to the bill noted, the astonishing reality in America is that one out of four children grow up without a father. The negative consequences of this grim reality are so far reaching that it can be difficult to quantify, but the bill’s introduction gives a good summary of them:
Children raised in father-absent homes are more likely, on average, to abuse drugs and alcohol, show signs of antisocial and delinquent behavior, and drop out of high school. Such children are also more likely to experience poverty, teen pregnancy, child abuse and neglect, behavioral problems, and death in infancy.
To help get more absent fathers back into their children’s lives, HB 7065 allocates almost $70 million “to help fathers find a job, satisfy child support obligations, transition from being in jail, and [get] parenting education.” The bill would also “provide grants to community-based not-for-profit organizations to offer certain mentorship programs.” As we have written about previously, mentoring youngsters, teens, and young adults who grew up without fathers is a profoundly positive experience not only for those being mentored but also for the mentors themselves.
When we consider the fact that a bill like HB 7065 got unanimous support from both sides of the aisle, it proves that certain universal truths resonate with everyone and transcend political parties. When Democrats and Republicans can come together to unanimously pass a bill that acknowledges the importance of fatherhood, it should give us hope for the future. Perhaps bills like these can be springboards for future bipartisan-supported legislation that focuses on strengthening marriages and families—the foundational cornerstone of civilization.