Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill on Monday investing $70 million into programs to support "responsible fatherhood" in a statewide awareness campaign. DeSantis signed HB 7065, a child welfare bill that promotes responsible fatherhood in the state and encourages their "active participation in their children's lives."
The measure requires the Department of Children and Families and Department of Juvenile Justice to identify and meet the needs of Florida's dually-involved children within a specified timeframe, according to local news.
Among the funded initiatives, the bill supports case managers who help fathers find employment and transition from incarceration to private life. In addition, the bill also creates mentorship programs for at-risk youth to help children develop social and emotional life skills through the presence of father figures.
The month of June will be designated, "Responsible Fatherhood Month," before the law takes effect on July 1, according to local outlet WPEC.
DeSantis was joined by two of his three children when he signed the legislation while other kids gathered around the Florida governor. In front of a podium with a sign reading "Strong Fathers, Strong Florida," the Republican leader pushed back on the media narrative attempting to disrupt the nuclear American family.
"In Florida, we are not going to be following this propaganda," DeSantis declared, citing necessary programming that will help families stay engaged with each other.
DeSantis signed the bill at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers training facility in Tampa, according to WTSP, noting that he put pen to paper at the team's AdventHealth Training Center alongside former Bucs head coach Tony Dungy, who is also the spokesperson of and contributor to All Pro Dad, a national fatherhood nonprofit program that will be provided funding via grant opportunities by the bill. DeSantis said the organization uses "evidence-based parenting education."
Dungy gave an impassioned speech as he backed the bill, saying that it will "be such a big help to fathers in Florida agencies that support fathers in Florida." He commended DeSantis for bringing his children with him.
Dungy said spoke about the importance of fatherhood, saying "I had a dad who was around me all the time and supported me and I thought everyone was like that. I got to my job and the National Football League started interviewing our players and started to understand not everyone had that same blessing that I had."
"It really got driven home to me my first year here in Tampa when I got the job. Legendary man here by the name of Abe Brown, and if you're here know the name of Brown Prison Ministry. He wanted me to go with him. And I went on the first trip, expecting to see grizzled hard, tough, older guys. And what I met were 19 and 20 and 21-year-old kids, like my boys.
"I remember driving home from that trip and asking Reverend Brown, 'how do those young boys get here?' And he told me, it's not socio-economic. It's not racial. It's not education. It's none of that. 95 percent of these boys did not grow up with their dad. And that hit me. That hit me very hard. And shortly after that, we're able to start All Pro ad and really try to do what we could do to help," he said.