Let there be no doubt: We need our fathers.
This Sunday on Father's Day, we recognize just how important involved and loving fathers are to our lives as sons and daughters, communities and a nation. Dads and father figures can make such a difference in kids' lives and the choices they make. I know my father did for me and -- at 91 years of age -- continues to do so for his children and grandchildren.
We know that the estimated 24 million children who live without their fathers are not so fortunate. They are much more likely to be poor, experience educational, health, emotional and behavioral problems, and engage in criminal behavior than those who live with their biological or adoptive parents.
When caring fathers are engaged in their children's lives, their kids are significantly more likely to do well in school, exhibit pro-social behavior, and avoid risky behaviors.
Being involved can mean teaching your daughter how to throw a ball, listening to your son's story, attending parent's night at school, or just being a good role model. While the responsibilities of being a father are never easy, being a dad is a privilege, and having the respect of one's child is a proud achievement.
At the Department of Health and Human Services, our Office of Family Assistance helps fathers develop responsible parenting skills and economic stability, and the Office of Child Support Enforcement helps parents improve their ability to support their children and uses innovative ways to engage fathers in the lives of their children. Head Start programs also are stepping up resources and training for creating father-friendly program environments and engaging dads as their children's first teachers.
Additionally, in partnership with the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, we are launching the 2012 Fatherhood Buzz Barbershop Tour this weekend, a pilot project to promote responsible fatherhood and provide community resources through barbershops across the country.
We know there's a close connection between having a job and being able to provide for a self-sufficient, functional family, and these programs aim to connect dads to jobs, training programs, and financial advice. They also will strengthen the bonds between couples with kids, reducing domestic violence and providing role models for adulthood.
To my Dad and all the dads out there -- and all the family and community members working to help them succeed as parents -- thank you for helping our children thrive, and for helping to ensure a brighter future for all of us. Happy Father's Day.
Learn more at http://www.fatherhood.gov/.