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June 4, 2005

Governor continues mission of the Council on Responsible Fatherhood
Bill signing coincides with 5th Annual Fatherhood Conference & Resource Fair

SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed Senate Bill 1438, legislation that extends the existence of the Illinois Council on Responsible Fatherhood. Created in August of 2003, the Council is charged with developing a comprehensive plan that promotes the positive involvement of fathers in their children’s lives. The Council also evaluates State programs, government policies, and community initiatives related to fatherhood and makes recommendations regarding those programs, policies, and initiatives to the Governor and the General Assembly. Originally set to disband in July of 2005, this legislation allows the Council to continue their important work on behalf of Illinois families for an additional year. State Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Westchester) and State Rep. Paul Froehlich (R-Schaumburg) sponsored the original legislation creating the Council as well as the bill extending its work.

“Fatherhood is a great privilege, and one that too many Illinois men are missing out on,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “The work of the Council on Responsible Fatherhood to find out how we can get more fathers engaged in their children’s lives is extremely important. Not only do fathers play a key role in helping to provide the financial resources that are needed to raise children, but they also play a critical role in their children’s emotional and social development. A child who feels valued and loved by both of his parents is going to be better prepared to deal with the various challenges and influences he’ll face in life.”

According to the Federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), over the last four decades, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of children growing up in homes without fathers. In 1960, fewer than 10 million children did not live with their fathers, compared to nearly 25 million in 2002. Studies show that children who grow up without responsible fathers are significantly more likely to experience poverty, perform poorly in school, engage in criminal activity, and abuse drugs and alcohol.

“I believe we need more time to get to the point where we can help fathers become more responsible in the lives of their children. I am pleased that the Council has gotten off to a good start, but I’m certain that we have more work to do in order to bring a more complete report back to the General Assembly that will help us develop a strategy to aid fathers as they work to be a better role model and a better parent to their children,” said Sen. Lightford.

“The role of the father in the world today is disappearing and we need to figure out how to keep fathers active in the lives of their children. That is our challenge,” said Rep. Froehlich. “It’s good that we’re extending the life of the Council so they can continue their work.”

In conjunction with that mission, the Council and other groups will participate in the 2005 Fatherhood Conference & Resource Fair, hosted by Congressman Danny Davis (D-7th) today. The conference began this morning at 8:30 am and runs until 4 pm at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. College Prep High School, 4445 S. Drexel Avenue in Chicago. The morning includes a forum on fatherhood issues with Cong. Davis, Sen. Lightford, Secretary Carol Adams of the Illinois Department of Human Services, Norris Stevenson from the Illinois Department of Public Aid, attorney Jeffery M. Leving, and others.

The afternoon session will kick off with members of the Council on Responsible Fatherhood and other policy makers discussing the fatherhood programs available through the Illinois Departments of Public Aid, Children and Family Services, and Human Services, as well as the U.S. Administration for Children and Families. Other workshops will concentrate on issues such as child support and visitation, buying a home, choosing a career, and financial planning. In addition, a resource fair will be available throughout the day that will provide free information on health, career, and parenting services.


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