Family Restoration for Children in Poverty

Last Friday, Governor Bob McDonnell said something that social scientists have known for quite some time: family fragmentation is costing our culture dearly. University of Virginia sociology professor Brad Wilcox is one of the nation’s foremost experts on the impact of family breakdown and its effect on children. His research, as well as the research of many others, shows one of the primary reasons for poverty in our nation is not the lack of a large enough “safety net,” it is lack of intact families. Prof. Wilcox suggests that childhood poverty could drop as much as 20 percent if Virginia’s marriage rate were increased. The Huffington Post published an article on this as well. "Over the last decade, child poverty surged in 38 states and erased many of the gains in child well-being made in the last 20 years,..." [Read the entire piece at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/17/child-poverty-climbs-in-3_n_929905.html.

Children suffer most from family breakdown. Kids who do not live in intact families are more likely to have lower academic performance, are more likely to engage in risky sexual activity, use illicit drugs, and have disciple problems. Intact marriage, on the other hand, can have significant social and economic benefits for everyone involved, promoting better physical health, improving finances, and providing the emotional stability to raise well-adjusted children.

Statistics illustrate the evidence of why government has a fundamental interest in marriage. Those who suggest that “government should get out of marriage” misunderstand the inexorable link between good families and good government. Limited government is good, except when that reduces the marriage incentive, or relegates it to a religious governing body without legal force. The result is ever expanding government programs to provide for children without married parents caring for them.

The Virginia Family Foundation has reported on the Virginia particulars on this issue. "A 2008 study estimated that Virginians pay approximately $776 million per year in safety net programs due to out-of-wedlock births and family fragmentation, a number researchers called very conservative because it didn’t include things like health care costs. Overall, Americans pay at least $112 billion per year in these programs. Already, the Virginia Department of Social Services has recognized the importance of rebuilding families. According to its website, DSS “is developing a system-wide approach to strengthening families that focuses on the following three goals: reducing non-marital births; connecting and reconnecting fathers with their children; and encouraging the formation and maintenance of safe, stable, intact, two-parent families.” As the economy continues to struggle and policy makers look for solutions to our ever increasing national debt, they should not ignore marriage policies. By avoiding these issues they miss an opportunity to bring real solutions to the problem of poverty in our nation. Policy experts are ready and able to make suggestions; it’s high time our elected officials start listening [as Governor McDonnell is]." For more information go to www.votervoice.net/core.aspx?APP=Registration&AID=334&SiteID=-1.

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