Executive Order

Executive Order No. 389: Establishing a commission to advise the Governor relative to further measures to reduce father absence and support families in the Commonwealth

Date: 07/10/1996
Issuer: William F. Weld
Mass Register: No. 796

Table of Contents

WHEREAS, children who grow up without fathers are five times more likely to be poor, twice as likely to drop out of high school and much more likely to end up in foster care or juvenile justice facilities than children who grow up with fathers;

WHEREAS, girls who are raised in single-parent families are three times more likely to become unwed teen mothers, and boys without fathers at home are much more likely to become incarcerated, unemployed and uninvolved with their children when they become fathers than children who grow up with fathers;

WHEREAS, mothers living with children whose father is not present have a poverty rate of 35%, more than four times the rate for all married-couple families with children, which is 8%;

WHEREAS, there is alarming growth in the number of fatherless homes and communities in the Commonwealth resulting from the high rate of out-of-wedlock births, the high rate of teen pregnancy and the failure of many fathers to take responsibility for their children;

WHEREAS, it is imperative to the future of the Commonwealth that the trend of father absence in the Commonwealth be curtailed and that the number of children growing up without the care and guidance of both a mother and father be significantly reduced; and

WHEREAS, there is a need to coordinate and integrate policy on all aspects of father absence and family support at the highest levels of state government and to include the health, human services, faith, educational and business communities in the formulation of policy on these issues;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, William F. Weld, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Supreme Executive Magistrate, do hereby order as follows:

Section 1. There is hereby established an Advisory Commission on Father Absence and Family Support. It shall be the responsibility of the Commission to make recommendations to the Governor as to how to address the crisis of father absence and support families in the Commonwealth, and to that end, the Commission shall:

a. consider further policy initiatives to increase the rate of paternity establishment and increase child support collections;

b. consider further policy initiatives to strengthen marriage and reduce the rate of out-of-wedlock births;

c. consider further policy initiatives to reduce the rate of teen pregnancy, such as the advisability of allowing local school districts to deny certain school benefits such as participation in extracurricular activities to teen parents;

d. consider measures to better protect children in families at risk of divorce, such as the advisability of requiring parents to develop a parenting plan detailing how their children will be cared for after a divorce;

e. work with faith communities, community organizations, private businesses and others to develop and promote mentoring activities for children without fathers;

f. work with faith communities, community organizations, private businesses and others to develop and promote programs to improve the parenting skills of young fathers in custody or on probation or parole;

g. develop and coordinate outreach efforts by agencies to students and to adult fathers, discouraging out-of- wedlock births and focusing on the significant responsibilities and of parenthood; and

h. consider such other measures to address the crisis of father absence and to support families as the Commission deems appropriate.

Section 2. The Commission shall be chaired by the Lieutenant Governor or his designee, and its membership shall be appointed by the Governor, including the Secretary of Health and Human Services or his designee; the Secretary of Public Safety or his designee; the Commissioner of the Department of Public Health or his designee; the Commissioner of the Department of Youth Services or his designee; the Commissioner of the Department of Social Services or his designee; the Commissioner of the Department of Transitional Assistance or his designee; the Commissioner of the Department of Education or his designee; the Commissioner of the Department of Revenue or his designee; at least one representative each from the district attorneys of the Commonwealth and the Governor's Advisory Commission on Domestic Violence, a judge of the Massachusetts trial court to be appointed with the approval of the Chief Justice for Administration and Management, and such other members as the Governor may appoint. Commission members shall serve for terms of two years.

Section 3. The Commission shall meet at such times and at such intervals as the Lieutenant Governor or his designee shall direct.

Section 4. The heads of each state agency, department, board, commission, authority or other body within the Executive Department under the Governor's supervision that provides services to children and families are hereby directed to report to the Commission on the extent to which fathers are included in the services and programs offered. The Commission shall determine the form of such reports and the submission date.

Given at the Executive Chamber in Boston this 10th day of July one thousand nine hundred and ninety-six.

William F. Weld, Governor
Commonwealth of Massachusetts

William Francis Galvin
Secretary of the Commonwealth

Contact for No. 389: Establishing a commission to advise the Governor relative to further measures to reduce father absence and support families in the Commonwealth

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