‘Responsible Fatherhood’ bill advances

TRENTON – A bill Assembly lawmakers say they hope will promote participation of both parents in the lives of their children was released from committee today with bipartisan support.

The bill, A2410, sponsored by Assemblyman Troy Singleton, (D-7), Mount Laurel, and Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, (D-15), Ewing, would establish the New Jersey Council on Responsible Fatherhood Fund.

The Assembly Women and Children Committee voted unanimously to release the bill.

The 21-member council would be tasked with identifying needs and priorities of fatherhood programs in the state and ultimately develop a Responsible Fatherhood Initiative. The initiative will consist of a public awareness campaign “on the legal, financial, and emotional responsibilities of fatherhood and the benefits of paternity establishment,” according to the bill.

The bill’s sponsors say the legislation intends to support the contributions each parent brings to the household.

“Being a father … is obviously the most important job I’ve ever had or ever will have,” said Singleton, adding the program is meant to empower men who recognize the importance of their role as a father.

“What we’re trying to do here is a replication of what’s been done in Illinois and what’s been done in Connecticut,” he said.

The Office of Legislative Services estimates the program will cost between $110,000 and $115,000 annually, with the bulk of the cost – roughly $105,000 – used for salary and benefits for a full-time Department of Children and Families specialist to provide staff support and services to the council, according to OLS’ fiscal note.

Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, (R-11), Colts Neck, said she was originally “hesitant” about the bill because of the cost involved with funding the initiative, but pointed out that the program could be eligible for federal grant funds.

Ovarian cancer awareness

The committee also released legislation that would change the Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month in the state from February to September of each year.

The bill, A2161, would bring the state in conformance with National Ovarian Cancer Awareness month in September.

‘Responsible Fatherhood’ bill advances