Overview: Strong families are essential to the future of our nation, and both mothers and fathers have essential roles in ensuring the well-being of their children.

Compared with children growing up in two-parent homes, children in single-parent families are:

The Department of Health and Human Services is firmly committed to helping fathers as well as mothers provide all the different kinds of support their children need.

We conduct cutting-edge research on a wide-range of issues concerning fathers and families. We provide information and encouragement to our partners at the state and local levels about the critical roles fathers have in their childrens' lives. We help empower fathers as they work to ensure the health and well-being of their children. And we support our employees -- both mothers and fathers -- in their efforts to fulfill their parental responsibilities seriously.

In June 1995, President Clinton launched a government-wide initiative to strengthen the role of fathers in families. As a part of this initiative, HHS has expanded our on-going efforts to improve the life-chances for all children by making sure that our programs and policies assist men in their roles as fathers. HHS has set the following four goals for its Fatherhood Initiative:

In May 1996, after President Clinton launched his Fatherhood Initiative, Vice President Al Gore, Jr. and the National Performance Review, along with the Domestic Policy Council and HHS, co-hosted a "Federal Conference on Strengthening the Role of Fathers in Families." The conference highlighted recent accomplishments of the Fatherhood Initiative and introduced new program ideas from a number of federal agencies.

HHS Agencies' Fatherhood Initiatives

HHS Department Working Group

The Department Working Group was established in August 1995 to provide ongoing leadership on fatherhood issues. The group's strategy is to keep informed of HHS efforts on behalf of fathers, to expand and enhance current HHS activities, and to develop new efforts and initiatives. The working group is comprised of representatives from all HHS agencies.

ACF (Administration for Children and Families)

ASPE (Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation)

ASPE, in collaboration with ACF, has funded the following three projects to examine various aspects of responsible fatherhood:

HRSA (Health Resources and Services Administration)

NIH (National Institutes of Health)

OMH (Office of Minority Health)

OMH is the lead agency coordinating a multi-year cooperative agreement with a consortium of Historically Black Colleges and Universities to develop models to prevent minority male violence. The consortium has published an initial set of papers from the 1995 National Conference on Family and Community Violence Prevention.

OPA (Office of Population Affairs)

CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the CDC is working to reduce violence, particularly among young boys and adolescent males. By promoting non-violent behavior among adolescent males and by developing effective interventions, the CDC is helping to reduce levels of violence in families and communities.

SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)

SAMHSA's Center for Substance Abuse Prevention has funded a grant to the Detroit Urban League to conduct the Male Responsibility: Lifepower Program (MRP). MRP uses the rites of passage model to promote social responsibility among African American males aged 9 to 18. In addition to counseling, training, and educational components, the program offers the male responsibility curriculum that examines negative behaviors in the context of African American values, history, and traditions.

Improving Research and Data Collection on Fathers

HHS is collaborating with other federal agencies through the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family statistics, researchers and private foundations in an effort to improve data collection and research on fathers. A town-meeting on fatherhood and male fertility issues was held on March 27 to identify issues and barriers to better data collection. As a part of this continuing year-long effort, a conference on clinical and ethnographic research on fathers will be held June 11-12; a conference on large scale surveys and quantitative analysis will be held October 10-11; and a conference to make recommendations on measurement and data collection on fatherhood will be held in March 1997.

Working With HHS Employees

The Department is conducting a survey of its employees to determine problems and issues regarding availability and use of its family friendly work-force policies, such as flexible work schedules and sites, leave programs and job-sharing. This survey will be used to determine if fathers feel they have appropriate access to these department-wide programs.

May 3, 1996
Contact: HHS Press Office (202) 690-6343