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Father's Day Comes Early

The National Fatherhood Initiative is working to get the word out about the benefits of dads.

11:15 AM, Apr 19, 2005 • By RACHEL DICARLO
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STATISTICS ABOUND showing that children with absent fathers suffer a much worse fate than those whose dads stuck around. They're more likely to have low birth weight before they're more likely become obese, go to jail long-term, contract diseases, be treated for emotional problems, live in poverty, take drugs, and do badly in school. Saddest of all, they are also more likely create the next generation of fatherless children.

The numbers are also disheartening. Only one in thee American children grow up with their fathers around. The problem is most prevalent in the low-income black community, where two out of three children are--although a mother's boyfriend may cohabitate--for all intents and purposes, fatherless.

The National Fatherhood Initiative, which recently celebrated its 11th birthday, provides a great service to parents, children, and society by working to reverse this trend. The organization's most important goal, NFI president Warren Roland says, is "trying to increase the well-being of children through father presence."

Warren's biggest task has been disseminating facts through an aggressive ad campaign--including television, radio, and outdoor service announcements. E! and Entertainment Tonight have been two major players in covering some of NFI's programs.

Others have shown they think it's a worthy cause. Through enormous charitable donations the NFI has been giving fathers the resources they need to understand the importance of their role in their kids' lives.

The NFI has also been engaging every sector of society--private, public, and faith-based--by partnering with various reputable organizations which help them underscore the virtues of fatherhood. Several YMCAs in Pittsburgh, for instance, have installed "fatherhood kiosks" at their branches and trained staff to better work with fathers.

"We find connection points wherever we can," Warren says.

Warren's NFI--which has an 81-member congressional task force--recently brought some of its research to the attention of Congress, who will take into consideration the role of fathers when drafting and voting on new legislation concerning welfare reform and child poverty.

A father of two boys, Warren is a graduate of Princeton University and the Wharton School of Business. In his previous life, he worked at Goldman Sachs. But after meeting with some of the NFI's founders 10 years ago, he put corporate life aside to work full-time on the fatherhood campaign.

"I was captivated by the vision of this organization," he says.

Tonight he, along with First Lady Laura Bush, is hosting a dinner in Washington, D.C., that will honor men (including THE WEEKLY STANDARD's executive editor, Fred Barnes) who exemplify the ideals of fatherhood.

They deserve the gratitude of us all.

Rachel DiCarlo is an assistant editor at The Weekly Standard.