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 Home > News & Policies > June 2004

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 21, 2004

President Discusses Compassion Agenda in Cincinnati, Ohio

June 21, 2004


Jim Towey Faith Based and Community Initiatives Director Jim Towey discussed the President's Compassion Agenda on "Ask the White House" on Tuesday, June 22. "Ask the White House."

Click here to read the transcript.

Today's Presidential Action

  • Today, President Bush visited a social services center in Cincinnati, Ohio, to highlight the life-changing compassion of America. Every day, the compassionate work of Americans strengthens marriages and families, transforms the lives of children, and promotes personal responsibility.
  • The United States is a compassionate Nation that supports the talents and possibilities of every person. The President believes that the greatest strength of America is found in the hearts and souls of our citizens.
  • The President's budget for FY 2005 continues to support the compassion of America by requesting more than $400 million for programs to support healthy marriages, research and demonstration projects on family formation, and initiatives to promote responsible fatherhood. The President's budget for FY 2005 also supports achieving personal responsibility through $200 million in funding for his Access to Recovery drug treatment voucher program, and $75 million in funding to help former offenders stay away from crime by providing access to job training, housing options, and transitional services.

Background on Today's Presidential Action

"It is also important to understand that a more hopeful society is one in which we encourage strong marriages and families. I understand building and preserving a family is not always possible; I know that. But it should be a national goal. We ought to aspire for what's best. And what's best is for our families to remain intact." -- President George W. Bush, July 29, 2002

  • Compassionate Welfare Reform. The 1996 Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) welfare policy reform encouraged personal responsibility by promoting work, reduced non-marital births, and strengthened and supported marriage. The largest welfare caseload decline in history occurred between the 1996 enactment and 2003 with the welfare caseload falling 60-percent from 12.2 million recipients to fewer than 5 million. The President's 2002 TANF welfare reauthorization proposal builds upon these compassionate reforms and seeks to make welfare even more focused on achieving independence and self-reliance, and on supporting the well-being of children and families. The President has called on Congress to enact the TANF reauthorization.
  • Healthy Marriage Initiative. Research from the U.S. Census Bureau, SAMHSA, and private studies indicate that children raised in two-parent married families are less likely to be poor, less likely to fail at school, and less likely to have a behavioral problem, when compared to those who are not. Moreover, as adolescents, they are less likely to commit crime, develop substance abuse problems, or to commit suicide. President Bush believes that marriage is one of the unseen pillars of civilization, and while a two-parent, married family is not always possible, it should always be the goal. The President's initiative supports healthy marriage and family development by:
    • Promoting Healthy Marriages through a dollar-for-dollar matching grant program with States, with total available funding at $240 million each year.
    • Building and Preserving Families through research and demonstration projects focusing on family formation and healthy marriage activities, with a request in the FY 2005 budget of $120 million in annual funding.
    • Promoting Responsible Fatherhood through grants to faith-based and community organizations for skill-based marriage and parenting education, job training, and other services that help fathers provide emotional and financial support to children and families. The President's FY 2005 budget request is $50 million.
  • Promoting Personal Responsibility. The President's compassionate initiatives to help addicted Americans and former prisoners become contributing members of society are intended to actively help citizens in need while insisting upon accountability and results.
    • Access to Recovery: In 2003, to help more Americans caught in the cycle of addiction find needed treatment from the most effective programs, including faith-based institutions, the President proposed the Access to Recovery treatment voucher program. The program has been funded at $100 million in 2004. The President proposes doubling the Access to Recovery program to $200 million to help 100,000 additional Americans receive treatment from providers that best meet their needs, including through faith-based and other community providers. The President's 2005 Budget includes $4.7 billion for total substance abuse prevention and treatment programs.
    • Former Prisoners Contributing to Society: To help former offenders stay away from crime, a substantial number of faith-based and community leaders have created resourceful programs to provide job training, housing options, and transitional services that help former prisoners become involved and contribute to their communities. To help these Americans in need, President Bush proposed in his 2004 State of the Union Address a four-year, $300 million initiative to provide job training and placement services, transitional housing assistance, and mentoring for 50,000 former inmates.

Highlights of the President's Compassion Agenda

  • Compassion for Children
    • Mentoring for Those in Need: The President believes that people, especially school-aged children, can find the support they need to help them succeed through the work of a mentor. The President has proposed a three-year, $450 million mentoring initiative targeting disadvantaged youth and the children of prisoners.
    • Supporting Personal Responsibility through Abstinence Education: To encourage teens to take personal responsibility for their actions and to encourage parents to educate their children about the dangers of early sexual activity, the President announced his abstinence initiative during the 2004 State of the Union address. The initiative includes doubling the funding -- from $135 million to more than $270 million -- for abstinence-only education programs, developing model abstinence-only education curricula, ensuring the Federal government is sending a consistent message to teens, and creating a public education campaign for parents and teens about this important issue.
    • Protecting Children: The President is committed to protecting children from those who would prey on them. The President held the first White House Conference on Missing, Exploited, and Runaway Children in October 2002; proposed and signed legislation to expand the AMBER Alert network across America, which notifies the public when a child in their area is missing; released the "Parent's Guide to Child Safety;" and signed the PROTECT Act in April 2003, giving law enforcement additional tools to prevent, investigate, and prosecute violent crimes against children.
    • Supporting Adoption and Foster Children: The President believes that a permanent, safe, and loving home is important for every child, and he has worked to prevent children from being trapped in the child welfare system. In addition, he continues to support both domestic and international adoption. Since taking office, he has increased the adoption incentives tax credit to $10,000 per child, launched the website, signed into law the bipartisan Promoting Safe and Stable Families Amendment Act, provided Independent Living (education and training) vouchers for young adults aging out of the foster care system, and created incentives for the adoption of older foster youth.
    • Promoting Character Education: Character education provides children with the tools to develop moral and ethical strength. The President has requested $25 million for the Character Education Initiative to encourage schools and school districts to develop curricula that teach strong values, promote good character, and help children develop a sense of responsibility to the community.
  • Compassion for Families
    • Supporting Self-sufficiency: The President has offered a proposal that would build on the 1996 welfare reforms and focus these programs even more strongly on individuals' efforts to achieve independence and self-reliance and on improving the well-being of children and families.
    • Promoting Healthy Marriage: The President has requested $120 million in Federal funds to be matched by $120 million in state funds for a state-based competitive matching grant program to support healthy marriages. The President has also $120 million for research, demonstration projects, and technical assistance on family formation and healthy marriage activities.
    • Encouraging Responsible Fatherhood: The President believes it is important to recognize the critical role that fathers play in the lives of their families, and has requested $50 million for a new initiative to promote responsible fatherhood.
    • Preventing Violence Against Women: The Bush Administration is committed to preventing domestic violence and addressing its effects on individuals and families. President Bush has secured historic levels of funding for Violence Against Women programs at the Justice Department, overseen an increase in Federal prosecutions for crimes of violence against women, and has established 12 Family Justice Centers to help local communities provide comprehensive services under one roof to victims of domestic violence.
  • Compassion for Communities
    • Helping Former Prisoners Become Contributing Members of Society: President Bush proposed in his 2004 State of the Union Address a four-year, $300 million initiative to provide job training and placement services, transitional housing assistance, and mentoring for 50,000 inmates.
    • Providing Access to Drug Abuse Recovery and Treatment Programs: In 2002, the President set the aggressive goal of reducing national drug use by youth by 10-percent in two years and 25-percent in five years. The first of these goals was exceeded, with a reduction of 11-percent. In 2003, the President proposed the Access to Recovery treatment voucher program to expand substance abuse treatment capacity to those who need it. The program is now funded at $100 million and the President proposes doubling the program to $200 million per year. The President's 2005 budget includes $4.7 billion for substance abuse prevention and treatment programs overall.
    • Combating Chronic Homelessness: The Bush Administration is working to end chronic homelessness by 2012 by funding homelessness prevention and intervention programs and spearheading the President's new $70 million Samaritan Initiative, which was introduced in Congress in March 2004.
    • Encouraging Healthy Behavior: The President's HealthierUS Initiative encourages Americans to take steps to prevent and control chronic diseases and obesity through simple improvements in physical activity, diet, and behavior. The Initiative includes the Steps to a HealthierUS program, for which the President requested $125 million in FY 2005.
    • Removing Barriers for Americans with Disabilities: Announced in February 2001, the New Freedom Initiative is the President's plan to tear down the remaining barriers to full integration into American life that many of the Nation's 54 million citizens with disabilities still face. By increasing access through technology, expanding educational opportunities for youth with disabilities, integrating Americans with disabilities into the workforce, and promoting full access to community life, the New Freedom Initiative offers people with disabilities opportunities equal to their fellow citizens.
    • Calling Americans to Service: The President has made it a priority to encourage Americans to dedicate at least two years or 4,000 hours over the course of their lifetimes to volunteer service and civic involvement. To help Americans answer his call, the President created the USA Freedom Corps; requested slightly over $1 billion in the FY 2005 Budget for funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service, including $415 million for AmeriCorps programs and $150 million to support AmeriCorps education awards, $225 million for SeniorCorps, $20 million for Silver Scholarships for older Americans who volunteer 500 hours of service tutoring and mentoring students in exchange for a $1,000 scholarship; and has overseen the highest enrollment in the Peace Corps in 28 years. Between 2002 and 2003, the number of Americans volunteering increased from 59.8 million to 63.8 million.