Fathers at the Heart of Astorino Anti-Poverty Plan

State Senator Ruben Diaz Jr., center, presents Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, left, surrounded by Hispanic pastors and former GOP comptroller candidate John Burnett, back right.

State Senator Ruben Diaz Jr., center, presents Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, left, surrounded by Hispanic pastors and former GOP comptroller candidate John Burnett, back right. Will Bredderman/Observer

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino pitched a paternity-based anti-poverty plan outside Lincoln Hospital in a destitute section of the Bronx today.

Flanked by local Hispanic pastors and conservative Democratic South Bronx State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr.–a minister himself–Mr. Astorino promised to inaugurate a faith-based initiative aimed at encouraging fathers to take an active role in child-rearing. The Westchester County Executive, who is seeking to unseat Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, also proposed a law that would require the name of a newborn’s biological father to appear on its birth certificate upon the baby’s delivery, which he argued would serve as a prophylactic against chronic paternal absenteeism and financially strapped single-provider families.

“Strong families–something that we sometimes feel uncomfortable talking about right now. But if you look at the breakdown of the family, of the fathers walking away from their wives, fathers walking away from their children, you take that right back to what’s wrong with our society, why poverty rates rise. Why single moms trying to raise a child, children, often struggle in advancing in the work force and trying to balance that time between providing for their children and trying to work and put food on the table,” said Mr. Astorino. “We also want stronger families. Let’s not pretend that broken families don’t have an effect on our children, that fathers can walk away from their responsibilities to their children. We need to turn that around. Fathers matter. Fathers need to be involved in their children’s lives. And our plan would encourage them to do that, award and reward them for doing that.”

Among those reward programs would be a measure providing reprieve to fathers who fall behind on their child support payments while unemployed as long they have returned to work and are making their remittances again. The plan would also allow previously unemployed parents to continue to receive welfare benefits for a period after they obtain a job, so that they can build savings.

“Often times people choose to stay in poverty, to stay on welfare, because it’s easier and quite frankly sometimes it’s more beneficial to them and their family,” said Mr. Astorino. “We are going to win, and you know what, the people of this neighborhood and the people of forgotten neighborhoods all across New York State are going to win when we get into office, because we’ve got a plan to empower individuals, to empower and expect much from our fathers and to empower our communities.”

The plan would also sharply increase sentences for gun crimes, create new employer outreach programs in poor areas and increase funding for religious charities. It also calls for the passage of the Education Investment Tax Credit, which boost funding and scholarships to private schools.

“We are going to win, and you know what, the people of this neighborhood and the people of forgotten neighborhoods all across New York State are going to win when we get into office, because we’ve got a plan to empower individuals, to empower and expect much from our fathers and to empower our communities,” Mr. Astorino said.

The latest polls show Mr. Cuomo with a 29-point lead over the Republican.

Fathers at the Heart of Astorino Anti-Poverty Plan