By the President of the United States of America
Providing for our children is one of humanity's worthiest and most fundamental endeavors. Children are the best part of ourselves—the sum of our past and the promise of our future, the guarantee that our lives and values and dreams will flourish long after we are gone. Sadly, however, many parents in our country today deny the instinct to care for their children, failing to provide even the most basic economic support. Millions of America's children have no legally identified father. Millions do not receive the financial support they need to lead secure and healthy lives.
Because of these harsh realities, I have made the reform of our Nation's child support system one of the top priorities of my Administration. The welfare reform plan that I proposed to the Congress last year contains the toughest child support enforcement measures in America's history—measures that would improve the effectiveness of procedures for establishing paternity, make it easier to enter and update child support awards, and dramatically strengthen our ability to enforce payment of those awards. My proposals would also give us the ability to track deadbeat parents across State lines, suspend their driver's licenses if necessary, and make them work off what they owe.
As the Nation's largest single employer, the Federal Government must take a leadership role in the effort to ensure that all of America's children are properly supported. In February of this year, I signed an Executive order requiring Federal agencies to cooperate fully with measures to establish and enforce child support orders and to inform employees of how they can meet their support obligations. Additionally, we are encouraging State and local governments to develop innovative approaches to helping families cope with child support issues, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has begun to restructure and strengthen its partnerships with State child support agencies.
This month we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Child Support Enforcement Program at HHS. This program—at the Federal, State, and local levels—has been instrumental in giving hope and support to America's children while fostering strong families and responsible parenting. Through their efforts, over 5.1 million children now have a legally recognized father; more than 11.7 million children with a parent living outside of their homes have a legal right to the financial support of that parent; and over $72.5 billion has been provided for children by their noncustodial parents.
But for all that we have accomplished, we still have much to do. By ensuring the enactment and implementation of my Administration's strong child support enforcement proposals, we will send a clear signal to our citizens that they should not have children until they are prepared to care for them. Those who do bring children into the world must bear the responsibility of supporting them. We must rededicate ourselves to the task of putting these youngest and most vulnerable of our citizens first.
Now, Therefore, I, William J. Clinton, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim August 1995, as "National Child Support Awareness Month." I call upon the citizens of the United States to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this fifth day of August, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-five, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twentieth.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON