Obama announces fatherhood initiative

President Barack Obama announced a new fatherhood and families fund at an event in Washington, D.C., on Monday to celebrate Fathers Day. 

The fund is part of a nationwide fatherhood initiative that the president said is designed to raise awareness about the importance of fatherhood and help absent fathers re-engage with their families. 

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Obama — whose father left his family when he was two years old — said that having an absent father can lead children to drop out of school, abuse drugs and alcohol and live in poverty. 

"There are too many fathers missing from too many homes, missing from too many lives," he said. "There is harm done to those kids."

Obama said that it is impossible to "legislate fatherhood" but that the fund will bolster local initiatives that are helping keep families together. 

"Our children don't need us to be superheroes, they don't need us to be perfect, they need us to be present," he said. "I think it's time for a new conversation about fatherhood in this country."

In a later release, the White House said that the fund, titled the Fatherhood, Marriage and Innovation Fund will "scale up effective fatherhood and family-strengthening programs across the country."

Obama has also provided Department of Labor funding for transitional jobs programs for "noncustodial parents facing barriers to employment."

The fund is part of an ongoing White House effort to bolster fatherhood, part of which is run by its faith-based initiatives office. 

In his speech, the president recognized his childhood growing up without a father and said he has worked hard to be a good father for his two daughters, Sasha and Malia. 

Even though he received a good upbringing from his mother and grandparents, he said, "I still felt the weight of that absence ... it's something that leaves a hole in that child's life that no government can fill."

"Nothing in life compares" to being Sasha and Malia's father, he said. "You don't need a fancy degree for that. You don't need a lot of money for that."

This post was updated at 1:13 p.m.