President Barack Obama speaks during a Father's Day event at Town Hall Education Arts and Recreation Campus (THEARK) June 21, 2010 in Washington.

*President Barack Obama visited the Town Hall Education Arts & Recreation Campus in the Anacostia section of Southeast Washington to kick off his new Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative.

The effort is designed to compensate for the absence of fathers in many American families through mentoring and family programs.

“We can talk all we want here in Washington about issues like education and health care and crime; we can build good schools; we can put money into creating good jobs; we can do everything we can to keep our streets safe — but government can’t keep our kids from looking for trouble on those streets,” Obama told the audience at Monday’s event, which included DC Mayor Adrian Fenty, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Rep. Eleanor Homes Norton, and Rep. John Lewis.

DC Mayor Adrian Fenty, Rep. Eleanor Homes Norton and Rep. John Lewis listen as President Obama makes a Father's Day speech at Town Hall Education Arts and Recreation Campus (THEARK) June 21, 2010

“Government can’t force a kid to pick up a book or make sure that the homework gets done,” he continued. “Government can’t be there day in, day out, to provide discipline and guidance and the love that it takes to raise a child. That’s our job as fathers, as mothers, as guardians for our children.

Watch Obama’s full speech below.