Nearly 300 public housing authorities in 36 states and the District of Columbia plan to host free events to connect fathers and their children this weekend. For the third consecutive year public housing authorities across the country are gearing up to participate in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Father's Day Initiative. Modeled after a 2010 New York City Housing campaign and following President Obama's lead in starting a national discussion on responsible fatherhood, the initiative aims to strengthen the bond between children and their fathers, who are often absent from the lives of their children who live in public housing, and also connect fathers to economic, health and education resources.
"I applaud the agencies, families and fathers that support this initiative each year," said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, a father of two. "We know impact that hardworking parents have on their children's lives and the challenges families can face without committed fathers. As the president says, our children need us to be present and to give them our best, no matter what is going on our lives. That's what we are asking fathers and families to do this Father's Day and we are happy to have partners from agencies around the country joining us to do that."
Local housing authorities will hold events on Saturday, June 15th and throughout the month to celebrate fatherhood and the importance of dads being connected with their children who live in public housing or surrounding communities. Housing authorities will offer activities for fathers and their children, and also connect these men to economic development resources. HUD hopes these events will encourage fathers to stay connected with their children beyond Father's Day. For example, fathers can attend a "Back to School Night" or other school or community activities.
HUD's Father's Day initiative is part of a larger Obama Administration effort to promote responsible fatherhood. The National Conversation on Responsible Fatherhood and Strong Communities focuses on fatherhood and at-risk youth -- a priority for the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
The local offices of federal agencies, such as the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Education and Justice, will offer on-site information and servicesfor attendees. In some cities, NFL and NBA players will even join in on the Father's Day festivities.
Local authorities have partnered with organizations, such as the Boys & Girls Club of America, Legal Services Corporation and the National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI), to host events that celebrate fatherhood. Created in 1994, NFI aims to raise awareness about the importance of having fathers present in their children's life.
According to U.S. Census data, 24 million American children live in a home without a father. NFI has also found that children in father-less homes are five times more likely to live below the poverty line. Furthermore, these children are more likely to drop out of school or be incarcerated.
When addressing the importance of fathers, President Obama once said, "Our children don't need us to be superheroes. They don't need us to be perfect. They do need us to be present. They need us to show up and give it our best shot, no matter what else is going on in our lives. They need us to show them -- not just with words, but with deeds -- that they, those kids, are always our first priority."
HUD's national Father's Day 2013 campaign is in part modeled after the New York City Housing Authority 2010 Fatherhood Initiative. Housing authorities throughout the city hosted day-long events, which included activities for families and parenting workshops.