Archive for Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Unwed births leading cause of poverty, panel told

November 20, 2012


— Gov. Sam Brownback’s newly formed task force on child poverty was told Monday that the increase in “nonmarital births” was a leading cause of child poverty.

Ron Haskins, a senior fellow with The Brookings Institution, said that from a child’s perspective, “They need a mom, they need a dad, they need consistency … if that occurs it has major impacts on development.”

Haskins’ comments were made during the first meeting of the Governor’s Task Force on Reducing Childhood Poverty. Brownback appointed the group earlier this month.

In Kansas, 18.1 percent of children live in poverty, which represents a 53 percent increase from 1970. A family of four earning less than $23,050 is considered to be living under the poverty level.

Haskins said “Nonmarital births are really a major part of the problem of poverty in the United States.”

He said births to unmarried women nationwide have increased from around 30 percent in 1993 to 40 percent now. The poverty rate for children in female-headed households is 41 percent, while it is about 9 percent for married couples, he said.

“We are doing more of the thing that virtually guarantees poverty,” he said. “Unless we attack it, we are not going to get at the heart of the problem.”

He said if people will graduate from high school, work full time and wait until they are married to have children, they increase their chances dramatically of avoiding poverty. “Education, family composition and work are always going to be key,” he said.

“It is a very challenging issue,” said Kansas Department of Children and Families Secretary Phyllis Gilmore, who is serving as co-chair of the task force.

Earlier, Page Walley, a director with Casey Family Programs, urged task force members to work on reducing the number of children removed from their parents and put in foster homes.

“Foster care was never intended to be a permanent solution,” he said.


cinnamontwist 1 year, 5 months ago

About the lack of availability of contraception, I'll say this. I recently saw where the idea has been presented to make prescription contraceptives available over-the-counter. For the most part, I'm all for this idea. But something tells me some would then be complaining because their health care insurance wouldn't pay for it and they'd have to come up with the money.


yourworstnightmare 1 year, 5 months ago

Having very little money correlates with childhood poverty with a RMSD of 1.0. A perfect correlation.

Now, as to why single motherhood also correlates with poverty is an interesting question.

Lack of education, and more importantly opportunity, are certainly factors. Lack of societal scorn (as jhawkinsf describes) is certainly another (the social stigma has been lessened).

I would argue that having a child is a way to feel good about oneself, to exert control over one's circumstances and to feel pride and accomplishment in the process. When confronted with no other opportunities for self esteem and accomplishment, having a baby makes one feel good and in control.

Also, a husband (likely also poor) would just be one more mouth to feed. It might be easier to raise the child yourself instead of hooking up with another poor person who might also be abusive.

After all, domestic abuse also correlates with poverty and lack of education and opportunity.

Food for thought.


benbahe 1 year, 5 months ago

Why have a baby in first place? It's no accident a child was concieved. Its all our fault.


JackMcKee 1 year, 5 months ago

Watch The Dust Bowl and you'll start to understand why we get politcians like Kobach elected in Kansas.


tange 1 year, 5 months ago

Correlation? Causation? Colorization....

Painting women
while trying to
hold back the
hands of time.


Water 1 year, 5 months ago

All these comments and nobody has stated women want children?" Yep, it's a fact. Women want a child. They don't need a child, they want to get pregnant and give birth to their own child when the FEELING STRIKES THEM. This feeling even strikes 60 year old women who attempt to satisfy their want by nudging their daughter to have a child. Reasoning be damned.


labmonkey 1 year, 5 months ago

If you don't raise your kids well, you'll be attempting to raise your grandchildren.


Bob Reinsch 1 year, 5 months ago

I'd guess the real problem is penises. Young irresponsible men armed with a weapon of mass impregnation. Every penis in the state of Kansas ought to be registered and tagged. Someone coming in from out of state should get their penis registered with the state penile system. Then, and only then, can we move the economy forward. Ovaries don't cause unwanted pregnancy!


Briseis 1 year, 5 months ago

China knows where the child poverty problem lies. It is not the men. I hope and pray that to control poverty it does not come to China's choice to eliminate the true problem of child poverty.


jhawkinsf 1 year, 5 months ago

The simple fact is that too many men and women are having children they are ill equipped to raise, financially and emotionally. Somewhere along the line, we've given up on the notion of telling them not to do that. Whether that's because it's morally wrong or it works to the detriment of the child or because others in society who will have to pick up the tab, both financially and emotionally. But we have lost the ability to tell them to stop. So they keep dumping the consequences of their actions on the very children they supposedly care for and/or they dump the consequences on the rest of society.

How people live their lives is generally none of my business. How you choose to raise your children is likewise generally none of my business. When you reach inside my wallet to support your choices, then you've invited me to give my opinion. So to those of you having children and not reaching in may wallet, I will keep my mouth shut. To those reaching into my wallet, I say stop, or I just might slap your hand as it reaches for my wallet.


dabbindan 1 year, 5 months ago

granted, statistically, married couples present a better future to their children. however, i'll bet there's an even better correlation with those who are mature responsible adults. you cannot force two idiots to marry and expect it to make all things better. most of the parties in these unwed procreative situations are not marriage material in the sense that conservatives are thinking. a large number of immature couples trying to live together may even create more social problems than we already have. unfortunately that the children are innocent victims of the irresponsible choice of the parents leave society on the hook for their care. public service campaigns like seat belt use, and the drunk driving issue have helped those issues. a massive and ongoing campaign to encourage starting a family when one is financially secure and emotionally ready would be a start. make it saturate the culture.

safe, effective, inexpensive and readily available contraception and another public service campaign to promote the heck out of it is ESSENTIAL.

and last, an economy that provides a living wage to the working middle class instead of the steady concentration of wealth in the hands of the wealthy would help out a lot as well.

brownback's tax plan that increased taxes on the working poor and reduced it on the well off (oh yeah, we'll just increase social services a notch to make up for it) is completely counter productive and flies in the face of often stated conservative principles: income makes you independent and social services make you dependent. what a cruel joke.


donttreadonme 1 year, 5 months ago

Just another unintended consequence of restricting women's contraception choices, and in effect, blaming the woman by not requiring any responsibility from the "fathers".

Maybe the State government should spend less time obsessing over women's reproductive choices, and more time holding fathers accountable?


tomatogrower 1 year, 5 months ago

Oh, and I wed the father of my daughter. He turned into a monster, who liked to slap me around, do drugs, sell drugs, sleep with other women. Would I choose poverty over living with the jerk? You betcha.

Companies used to trickle down their profits. Now they just give their executives obscene raises. Whether you want to believe it or not, there is no company without the workers.


tomatogrower 1 year, 5 months ago

The only reason single parent families are poorer, is because we have created an economic society which requires 2 incomes coming into the family, unless one of those incomes is huge. When I was a divorced single mom, I didn't get much child support, but there were good paying factory jobs, and I could make a decent living for my daughter and I. Of course, the highest I ever paid for child care was $30/week. I rented nice houses for at most $250. Actually, I saw the rents skyrocketing, and realized I wasn't going to be able to pay that for a nice house anymore, and bought a mobile home. The brand new car I bought, no radio or AC, only cost $4000. I was making $10/hour then. I know a lot of people who would love to be making $10/hour now, but they have to pay triple or more for basic living expenses. They are looking for the causes in all the wrong places.


Cait McKnelly 1 year, 5 months ago

Watch for Sam to do away with marriage license fees and call it an "anti-poverty measure". :)


rockchalk1977 1 year, 5 months ago

Poverty in Kansas is hard to understand when every male and female receives a fabulous K-12 government school education compliments of the hard working taxpayers. Although, with liberalism, there is no personal responsibility required. It's always someone else's fault.


somedude20 1 year, 5 months ago

Wow!!! Someone should do something to maybe educate or offer birth control devices to these people to help cut down on the unwed births. I mean, it is better to plan out parenthood rather than find out the, um, hard way, that when putting tab A into tab B, you get tab C(hild). Maybe Kansas can outlaw sex unless you are married.......


pusscanthropus 1 year, 5 months ago

It's obvious these task force members have never actually worked with the at-risk youth who are contributing disproportionately to the next generation.

If they want to encourage marriage, then they'll have to legalize polygamy--particulary polygyny. In the past year, I have worked with several high school dropouts who have fathered children with multiple women. It is a status symbol "on the streets" to have multiple baby-mamas.

Wake up and face reality, Brownback! Go after the baby-daddies who think it's cool to impregnate as many women as possible. It might be difficult to do because, often times, their names never make it on the birth certificates.


storm 1 year, 5 months ago

He said births to unmarried women nationwide have increased from around 30 percent in 1993 to 40 percent now. Correction: unmarried couples - it takes two to procreate. Correct the language, then expectations for males will keeping a condom in their paying child support without government intrusion which I know of few parents that do this. gramaddy is spot on, and I will add absentee deadbeat moms.


WilburM 1 year, 5 months ago

No question that single parents do offer "indicators" of poverty. But an indication is not a cause. The idea that more social engineering to produce increased rates of marriage is going to magically change things is highly doubtful. Moreover, American society is moving toward more single parents, across income levels. And one possible solution here -- gay marriage -- is clearly not on the table in KS. Rather, we cut access to health care and day care and reduce school funding (where single parents might get some relief).

If we could only go back to the glorious 1950s, when intact families led to wonderful lives.


yourworstnightmare 1 year, 5 months ago

Let's not confuse correlation with causation.

What Mr. Haskins points out is a correlation; that child poverty correlates with "unwed births". He is treating this correlation as cause-effect, which it is not necessarily.

There is a 100% correlation between childhood poverty and having very little money.

The increase in economic disparity in the country has led to an increase in poverty, and increase in "unwed births", and thus an increase in child poverty.

It's the economy, stupid.


Centerville 1 year, 5 months ago

We've spent decades pretending that this isn't true - some of the typical 'la la la' obfuscations will no doubt show up in these comments. Please read the related article which includes 'out-of-wedlock birth, single-parent households' as poverty indicators. Because they are.


neworleans 1 year, 5 months ago

I don't think the taxpayers should have to pay any of this to support a single mother; its between her and whoever she was with.........good luck; it was your choice.


grammaddy 1 year, 5 months ago

Another attack on women.Blame it on the unmarried mom. Since there is no such thing as a deadbeat dad.Geez! If absentee fathers would just pay their support, it wouldn't have to be 41%.


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