by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton
On June 21, children across Texas will celebrate their fathers and thank them for a job well done. It is on this special day that dads receive the praise and thanks they deserve year round for the countless sacrifices they make for their children. Some sacrifices are larger than others, but all are a common part of fatherhood. It is because of these sacrifices that a father holds a special place in his child’s heart.
A father’s job is an important one and it often is not easy. The employees of the Attorney General’s Child Support Division (CSD) extend well wishes and thanks to Texas dads for giving their children the love and support they deserve.
Last year, the CSD collected $3.8 billion in child support ‘ and most of the money came from fathers. You are the unsung heroes in your children’s lives. The CSD demonstrates its commitment to fathers by recognizing the important and irreplaceable role they play in their children’s lives. Several notable resources that serve Texas fathers include:
The Paternity Opportunity Program (POP) gives unmarried fathers the opportunity to acknowledge their children’s paternity at the time of birth. The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) trains and certifies hospital and birthing center employees to assist parents with the Acknowledgment of Paternity process so that the child will have a legal father right from the start. Last year, POP gave more than 130,000 Texas children a good start in life by helping their fathers establish legal paternity.
Maps for New Dads: Handbook for Expectant and New Fathers is a publication designed to help expecting dads transition into fatherhood. Maps covers everything from what to expect on a prenatal visit to making homes ‘baby safe’ ‘ all in a manner designed to reinforce the special role fathers play. Additional resources developed by the OAG include a Parenting Two-gether Handbook for New Parents and the For Our Children DVD.
Access and Visitation programs promote noncustodial parents’ access to and visitation with their children, when appropriate, through a variety of shared parenting projects. Awarding grant funding to local organizations is one way the Attorney General’s Office can help children whose parents are engaged in custody or visitation disputes, since federal funding to run the child support program cannot be used to handle these issues. The services provided under this grant include early intervention, co-parenting education, mediation and enforcement. The OAG also funds a toll-free assistance hotline, (866) 292-4636, and provides a Web-based directory of services available in Texas communities.
The Parenting and Paternity Awareness (p.a.p.a.) program is an innovative educational curriculum designed for secondary school students and young adults. The p.a.p.a. program focuses on the ‘rights, responsibilities and realities of parenting.’ Key themes in the curriculum focus on the importance of father involvement, the value of paternity establishment, the legal realities of child support, the financial and emotional challenges of single parenting, the benefits of both parents being involved in a child’s life, healthy relationship skills and relationship violence prevention.
Happy Father’s Day to the extraordinary fathers who make sacrifices for their children to show them they are loved.
Ken Paxton is the Texas Attorney General