President Obama announced the launch of the latest phase of his Fatherhood Initiative on June 21, re-emphasizing the importance of fatherhood in America.

The White House Office of Faith-based Neighborhood Partnership, along with the administration’s Office of Public Engagement, will host fatherhood community forums across the country as part of a drive to further Obama efforts to combat father absence and provide partnerships with family-serving groups and role models around the country.

“We’re raising awareness about responsible fatherhood and working to re-engage absent fathers with their families,” Obama said in a statement.

Obama stated the need for the government’s role on the issue in statements released on Father’s Day in 2009. Now, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, (HHS) the administration is seeking to invest $500 million in fiscal year 2011 to “support and advance responsible fatherhood, healthy marriages and family self-sufficiency.”

The money would replace the $150 million Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood grants program that expires in 2010.

The new fund would be used by HHS to create competitive three-year grants to states for “comprehensive responsible fatherhood initiatives” based on “strong partnerships with community-based organizations “ and “comprehensive demonstrations to improve child and family outcomes in low-income families with serious barriers to self-sufficiency,” says an HHS statement.

Partners including the National PTA and the head of the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities have signed up to promote the initiative across the country.

Obama also announced plans to launch a transitional jobs initiative for ex-offenders and low-income fathers. Under that initiative, fathers would receive help in developing the skills and experience they need to maintain full-time employment and provide for their families.

“No matter what doubts we may feel, what difficulties we may face, we all have to remember being a father …not just an obligation and a responsibility; it is a privilege and a blessing, one that we all have to embrace as individuals and as a nation,” Obama said in a statement.