Federal Programs and Resources

One of the key policy goals and priorities set out by President Obama is the promotion of Responsible Fatherhood and Strong Communities. As part of this goal, the White House has partnered with a number of other Federal Departments to promote these partnerships and activities that promote fatherhood in local communities.

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Federal Interagency Working Group on Responsible Fatherhood

A federal interagency working group exists to explore what administrative actions can be taken to remove barriers to and institutionalize our efforts to support and encourage responsible fatherhood and father engagement in their children’s lives. Eleven federal agencies participate including:

United States Department of Agriculture

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides leadership on issues related to food and improvements on nutrition and health, as well as promotes economic development and quality of life improvements in rural America. USDA's Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, known as WIC, safeguards the health of low-income women, infants, and children up to age five who are at nutritional risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating, and referrals to health care. Fathers can receive WIC services—such as nutrition education, counseling, and referrals—on behalf of their eligible children. Another USDA nutrition initiative is the Fathers Supporting Breastfeeding initiative, which targets fathers with educational messages about the advantages of breastfeeding and how they play an important supportive role . USDA’s Rural Development programs also help strengthen families and revitalize rural communities by building or improving housing, neighborhood facilities, and creating employment opportunities for rural residents around the country. One example of this work is facilitating families in a mutual self-help project that has led to single fathers sharing how building their home, and that of their neighbors, fostered a sense of community and responsibility.

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United States Department of Commerce

The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) promotes job creation, economic growth, sustainable development and improved standards of living for all Americans by working in partnership with businesses, universities, communities and our nation’s workers. DOC touches the daily lives of Americans in many ways, with a wide range of responsibilities in the area of trade, economic development, technology, entrepreneurship and business development, environmental stewardship, and statistical research and analysis. The Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at DOC seeks to promote fatherhood and healthy families by strengthening the position of dads in the marketplace and empower communities to actively engage in issues impacting father presence and participation. DOC has begun to work with the Department of Labor in their efforts to provide effective work-family balance solutions to promote fatherhood in the workplace. DOC recognizes that workers (including dads) who are able to balance work and family are more loyal and productive employees and better parents to their children.


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Corporation for National and Community Service

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) engages more than five million Americans in service through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, Learn and Serve America, and the Social Innovation Fund, and leads President Obama's national call to service initiative, United We Serve. CNCS believes that caring and capable adult mentors can make a critical difference in the lives of children and youth in need. Participants in national service programs support mentoring by directly serving as mentors and by building the capacity of mentoring organizations through mentor recruitment and management, fundraising, and program administration. As a result of CNCS, hundreds and thousands of children and youth are mentored through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America each year.

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  • Learn more about the President's call to service initiative, United We Serve, and find opportunities to become involved in mentoring programs.


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United States Department of Education

The U.S. Department of Education's (ED) mission is to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access. Under the Administration's Blueprint for Reform of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, funding for parent engagement would double, creating new opportunities to be directly involved in the education of their children. One example of the Department's work includes an adult literacy programs, which better equips fathers to participate in the education of their children and provide financial security for their children.

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United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal laws prohibiting discrimination in the recruitment, hiring, retention, promotion, or termination of employees on the basis of race, national origin, religion, sex, pregnancy, age, disability, family medical history and genetic information. The EEOC has a long history of identifying and remedying discrimination in hiring and ensuring job applicants such as those with arrest and conviction records are treated fairly under the laws it enforces. In addition to its long-standing guidance and policy statements on the subject and related enforcement and public education activities, the EEOC is placing additional emphasis on helping to remove unnecessary barriers to federal employment for those with arrest and/or conviction records through its participation in the Cabinet-level Interagency Reentry Council. The EEOC has also issued guidance and employer best practices on the treatment of caregivers that helps address stereotypes and provides tangible support for shifting the paradigm that fathers are not equally engaged in care-giving.

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United States Department of Health and Human Services

Health and Human Services (HHS) is the United States government's principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves. In particular, three HHS resources— the Office of Family Assistance, the Office of Child Support Enforcement, and the Office of Head Start —help support families in creating stable and healthy environments for children and parents.

  • The Office of Family Assistance supports fathers through its competitive grant programs; providing funding, guidance, direction, and technical assistance to its grantees. The Office’s Promoting Responsible Fatherhood program assists fathers in developing and improving healthy marriage and relationships, responsible parenting skills, and economic stability. The Office also administers the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program designed to help needy families achieve self-sufficiency.
  • The Office of Child Support Enforcement, serving a quarter of all children and half of all poor children, helps parents improve their ability to support their children and encourages fathers and mothers to cooperate with each other and be involved in their children’s lives. Across the county, child support programs are finding innovative ways to engage fathers in the lives of their children, to increase non-custodial parent employment, to improve family relationships, and to address family violence prevention.
  • The Office of Head Start (OHS) supports responsible fatherhood by providing resources and assistance to grantees on the strong family engagement component of Head Start and Early Head Start programs. One past initiative specifically targeted at increasing the involvement of fathers in the lives of their children is the 21 Early Head Start fatherhood demonstration projects funded by the Administration on Children, Youth and Families in partnership with the Office of Child Support Enforcement.
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United States Department of Housing and Urban Development

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable housing for all Americans. As a part of creating strong communities, HUD is actively engaging families in a way that involves all family members—including fathers. The Department’s strategy utilizes housing as a platform for improving quality of life and engages HUD assisted tenants, including fathers, who are in need of quality affordable housing. Individuals are then able to access a broad array of services necessary for them to have meaningful access to opportunity and economic self-sufficiency, including education, healthcare, and job-training. HUD also works with local non-profits and NGO's to strengthen the capacity of fathers to engage with their families, and of newly entering non-profits to work effectively with intermediary organizations and with fathers themselves, by offering them capacity building training and networking opportunities.

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United States Department of Justice

The U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) mission is to enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law; to ensure public safety against threats foreign and domestic; to provide federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; to seek just punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior; and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans. The growth in incarceration over the past two decades has significant implications for families and children of the formerly incarcerated. The Office of Justice Programs works with state, local, and tribal stakeholders to identify pressing challenges and provides grants, information, training, coordination, and innovative strategies for addressing these challenges. Notable fatherhood initiatives include Fatherhood and Reentry Courts, which reduces recidivism rates and prison expenditures while holding formerly incarcerated individual accountable, and the Second Chance Act Adult Mentoring Grants designed to promote successful re-entry through responsible fatherhood and motherhood programs.

Other Helpful Links:
  • Learn more about the National Reentry Resource Center, which advances the reentry field through knowledge transfer and dissemination and to promote evidence-based best practices.
  • Learn more about the Federal Interagency Reentry Council, which supports the administration's efforts in advancing public safety and well-being through enhanced communication, coordination, and collaboration across federal agency initiatives.
  • Access the Mythbuster Series to clarify federal policy on a number of issues, such as access to public housing and federal benefits, federal bonding for employers, parental rights, and many others.

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United States Department of Labor

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) seeks to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights. The Employment and Training Administration particularly helps strengthen families and fatherhood by supporting organizations across the country that provide employment, training, and supportive services to low-income men, including non-custodial fathers and ex-offenders. One notable initiative is the Enhanced Transitional Jobs Demonstration, which is testing the subsidized employment model for connecting non-custodial fathers into the formal economy to improve their economic standing and ability to support their children. DOL also works to provide workplace flexibility for family and personal care-giving, which includes supports for working fathers seeking to spend time at home with their children and enforcing the Family and Medical Leave Act. Lastly, many ex-offenders are also parents and fathers. DOL has a program called Reintegration of Ex-Offenders Program which is designed to strengthen urban communities through an employment-centered program that incorporates mentoring, job training, and other comprehensive transitional services.

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Office of National Drug Control Policy

The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) seeks to foster healthy individuals and safe communities by effectively leading the Nation’s effort to reduce drug use and its consequences. The goals of the office are to reduce illicit drug use, manufacturing, and trafficking, drug-related crime and violence, and drug-related health consequences. The ONDCP works to build healthy, stable families where parents and caregivers can actively engage in the lives of their children. The 2010 National Drug Control Strategy provides a collaborative and balanced approach that emphasizes community-based prevention, integration of evidence-based treatment into the healthcare system, innovations in the criminal justice system, and international partnerships to disrupt drug trafficking organizations. Many of these programs involve fathers, and help them achieve drug-free lives that serve as a foundation for responsible parenthood. 

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United States Department of Veterans Affairs

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is responsible for fulfilling President Lincoln's promise: "to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan" – by serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s Veterans. VA provides benefits and services to eligible Veterans, their families, and survivors. VA's programs help those serving and those who have served achieve a stable, supportive environment important to fulfilling the role of fatherhood. Hallmark initiatives including eliminating homelessness among Veterans, as well as providing benefits to returning service members OEF/OIF, their families, and survivors.

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In response to President Obama’s call for a national conversation on responsible fatherhood and healthy families, learn how you can join the President's Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative.
Información en Español
En respuesta al llamado del presidente Obama para una conversación nacional sobre la paternidad responsable y las familias saludables, aprender cómo usted puede unirse a la Iniciativa Presidencial de Padres y Mentores.