On June 11, the Worker and Family Support Subcommittee of the Ways and Means Committee held a Congressional Hearing Celebrating Fathers and Families: Federal Support for Responsible Fatherhood to discuss increased federal support for fatherhood programs. The focus of the hearing was to hear from individuals who work in or benefited from fatherhood programs to understand the programs’ importance and need to expand them.
Witnesses included Nicolette Duffield, Assistant Warden of Programs for Sheridan Correctional Center, Halbert Sullivan, Founder and CEO of the Fathers’ Support Center, Ryan Howard, Executive Director of the Owens Valley Career Development Center, William C. Bell, President and CEO of Casey Family Programs, and Samuel Gonzales, Participant in the True Dads program in Oklahoma.
Testimony began with Warden Duffield describing her Illinois correctional facility’s mission of supporting incarcerated fathers. Through programming, children visit their incarcerated dads to play, eat, and spend time together. Fatherhood programs such as Warden Duffield’s lead to improved outcomes for families and decreased recidivism. Testimony continued with Mr. Sullivan describing the Fathers’ Support Center in St Louis Missouri. The Center changes the way men who enter think through hiring fairs, therapists, parent training, and job skills classes. Ryan Howard discussed the Owens Valley Career Development Center, which serves 12 west coast tribes. Howard recounted that the Center was created to fill the gap of services for fathers, since at the time services were mainly for mothers. Dr. Bell described the Casey Family Program’s role in providing support for fathers through partnership with government and nonprofits. Samuel Gonzales discussed his life-changing experience with the fatherhood program True Dads in Oklahoma. True Dads gave Samuel the tools he needed to improve his parenting and relationship skills as well as job opportunities, and is the reason he states for having a happy stable family.
All witnesses clearly stated the need for more federal funding for fatherhood programs.