Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Let Fathers In - They Want In. They Deserve In

in 2003 the legislature created the Illinois Council on Responsible Fatherhood to identify obstacles that impede fathers' involvement in their children's lives and devise strategies to remove them. The Council's report will be released next month. Its two central recommendations involve family law and child support.

"The Council's first recommendation is to reform the family law system to eliminate anti-father gender bias and facilitate responsible father involvement...A related problem identified by the Council is the scarcity of affordable and pro-bono legal services for low-income fathers. The state represents custodial parents free of charge in child support matters, and many programs provide free legal aid to mothers. By contrast, when a father seeks to enforce his visitation rights, block a move, or dispute a questionable child support arrearage, he is on his own...

"Many Illinois fathers who can play an important and positive role in their children's lives face needless obstacles. Policies based on blaming and punishing dads may make good political sound bites, but they are counterproductive for society, and hurtful to children and the fathers they love and need. The Council believes it's time for policymakers to take a fresh look at dads."

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