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Walorski Opening Statement at a Hearing on Celebrating Fathers and Families: Federal Support for Responsible Fatherhood

June 11, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  The top Republican on the House Ways and Means Worker and Family Support Subcommittee Jackie Walorski (R-IN) delivered the following opening statement at a Subcommittee Hearing on Celebrating Fathers and Families: Federal Support for Responsible Fatherhood.

CLICK HERE to watch the hearing.

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

“Thank you, Chairman Davis.

“Thank you for holding this important hearing on fatherhood and for sharing that touching video highlighting your efforts to connect fathers with their children at the Sheridan Correctional Facility each Father’s Day.

“I know this is a personal passion project of yours, and I am proud this Subcommittee is able to bring additional attention to the important role fathers play in building strong families.  

“We all want the best for children, and we know intuitively and through research that when a father is around to provide emotional and financial support, child outcomes improve.  When that father is in the home, those outcomes improve further, and when that father is in the home and married, children have the best outcomes.  We also find that there are positives for parents.  Marriage brings a greater sense of stability and satisfaction compared to couples who are cohabitating.

“According to research gathered by AEI scholar Brad Wilcox, the positive outcomes for children run the gamut, from improved mental health and academic achievement to reduced levels of crime and teen pregnancy.  Children are more likely to excel in school and to avoid delinquency when they grow up with an involved and nurturing father.  Children who report a high-quality relationship with their father are less likely to experience depression than those who don’t enjoy such a relationship.

“One reason dads are sometimes not welcome or active in a child’s life is a lack of financial contribution, sometimes resulting in a more adversarial relationship through our child support enforcement system.  That is why this subcommittee has been concerned about the seven million men who went missing from the labor force in the wake of the Great Recession – many of them fathers.

“But as the economy has improved, so have opportunities for dads.  This Subcommittee previously heard from Tyrone Ferrens of Baltimore, who participated in Project JumpStart with the Center for Urban Families, a federal fatherhood grantee.  With their help, after 14 arrests, jail time, and court-ordered rehab, he is now a journeyman electrician and homeowner who has rebuilt his family. 

“He talked about how his goal upon exiting prison was to be present in his children’s lives, and since Project JumpStart, he has done just that.  His son became the first in the family to attend college, and his daughter, who is 30 and inspired by his efforts, is going through Project JumpStart to get a second chance at success.

“I would like to ask unanimous consent to insert into the record an article from the South Bend Tribune and an article from the Goshen News about two individual fathers in my district who are having a positive impact on their communities.

“Finally, in the hearing room with us today, I am honored to welcome Samuel Gonzalas to share his story on what it means to him to be a dad.  A few years ago, I’m not sure he thought he would be testifying before a congressional committee, but with the support of the TRUE Dads program, the It’s My Community Initiative, and most importantly his wife, Kayla, who is in the audience, he’s here with us today.  

“Mr. Chairman, I look forward to hearing from Sam and the rest of our amazing panel, and for the great discussion to follow.

“With that, I yield back.”