Michael Kelly's June 16 op-ed column, "A National Calamity," credited David Blankenhorn, who joined with us in what The Post called "a diverse coalition of policymakers" with the observation "that the crisis of fatherlessness is calamitous to the nation and that the people who run the nation should do something serious about this" [news story, June 17].

He's right, but as two of the three principal co-editors of the statement, we take issue when Mr. Kelly uses this as a springboard to attack the president, vice president, the administration and the leadership of both parties.

This crisis cuts across American society, but is most severe among African Americans, and we as members of that community have a special responsibility to end it, as we made clear. Second, the administration and many in the congressional majority support our efforts.

President Clinton ordered federal agencies to examine their policies and practices to see if they encourage responsible fatherhood, and serious efforts are underway to strengthen support for fathers. Vice President Gore's annual family reunion conferences have been the site of significant developments in the fatherhood movement since 1994, and since then the Department of Health and Human Services and major foundations have been in close collaboration, involving fatherhood and women's groups.

HHS supports a responsible fatherhood demonstration project and is considering a major expansion of the Partners for Fragile Families (PFF) demonstration. The Department of Labor has made welfare-to-work grants to PFF sites in Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Racine, Wis. Labor Secretary Alexis Herman encouraged several states to devote most or all of their welfare-to-work money to job training and counseling for poor fathers.

On the Hill, Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-Conn.), who chairs the Ways and Means subcommittee on human resources, and Rep. Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) are working to channel significant welfare-to-work money toward getting noncustodial welfare fathers back to work so they can pay child support.

The gist of our report was a call for united action based on reality, not a shoot-from-the-hip, poorly aimed blast.


Senior Program Officer

Ford Foundation

New York



Morehouse Research Institute