Archive for Friday, September 6, 2013

Task force report focuses on increasing marriage, reducing out-of-wedlock births

September 6, 2013


— An emphasis on marriage and a decrease in out-of-wedlock births are two main recommendations from Gov. Sam Brownback's task force on reducing childhood poverty.

The task force report released Friday said a way to encourage healthy marriages would be to increase premarital education. An incentive to do that would be to reduce the marriage license fee for those who complete eight hours of premarital education. The course must contain a component on domestic violence, the report said.

An application for a marriage license in Douglas County costs $85.50.

"There is no single answer to end childhood poverty in Kansas," said Kansas Department for Children and Families Secretary Phyllis Gilmore, who served as chair of the task force. "Based on the evidence presented during our meetings, we believe these recommendations are an important start."

The report was criticized by Kansas Action for Children, which advocates for children and families.

"We also need to focus on creating innovative pathways out of poverty for our poorest children. These things seem to be missing from today's report," said Shannon Cotsoradis, president and chief executive officer for Kansas Action for Children.

In Kansas, the poverty rate for children has been increasing with nearly one in five children living in poverty. A family of four earning less than $23,050 is considered to be under the poverty level.

The governor's task force report said education, employment and marriage were the three key paths out of poverty and it downplayed the role of government-funded programs.

" … Government's ability to address poverty has historically been unsuccessful," the report said.

"Though government at the state and federal level continues to pour money into anti-poverty programs, poverty rates continue to grow, and out-of-wedlock childbirth has exploded.

"Government must be mindful of programs and policies that result in keeping individuals in poverty by dis-incentivizing full-time employment and marriage or incentivizing out-of-wedlock childbirths," the report added.

The report said increasing healthy marriages was important because In Kansas marriage decreases the likelihood of poverty by more than 80 percent.

The report also called for a public relations campaign to highlight the importance of marriage and fatherhood, and an increase in "healthy relationship education" in middle schools and high schools to help young people make better life choices and reduce out-of-wedlock births.

The report also recommended improving high school, college and technical school graduation rates through programs such as Jobs for America's Graduates and expanding statewide a mentoring program called Partners in Change that operates at Neosho County Community College.

The report also called for streamlining state work programs and touted work requirements for food stamps and welfare. Earlier this week, the Brownback administration announced that a federal waiver that allowed 20,000 unemployed Kansans to receive assistance in buying food will be allowed to expire at the end of the month.

Cotsoradis, with KAC, said the emphasis of the report on marriage and out-of-wedlock births seemed out of place.

She said children can thrive in stable home environments whether those are headed by two parents, a single parent or people who are unmarried.

"The issue is emotional and economic stability," she said.

Cotsoradis said the emphasis should be on helping to make sure that children who are born into poverty have the necessary supports so that they don't continue in poverty as an adult.

That means making sure they have access to nutrition, health care and education, she said.

She said the Legislature's recent action to cut in half the state's contribution to 529 college savings plans, which are meant to help the poor save for college, would seem to run counter to that goal.


Hooligan_016 4 years ago

How about family planning programs? Oh wait, forgot what state I'm in. Silly me.

Steve Bunch 4 years ago

This committee makes a number of assertions that are stated as facts. Does their report cite any data to support its conclusions? It's also interesting that the recommendations call for additional educational programs in the schools while the administration cuts school funding. This thing sounds like another faith-based initiative, as the tax cuts are.

deec 4 years ago

No it does not.cite any studies or research. Nor did the one presentation I looked at. It is rather heavy on representatives from religious groups and welfare office employees giving their views.

Bruce Bertsch 4 years ago

Want to slow down out of wedlock births? Try making birth control more available and actually teaching sex ed. Wait, I'm still in Kansas, nevermind.

George_Braziller 4 years ago

If it supposedly does then why was there a State Constitutional amendment to ban and not recognized gay marriages? Can't have your cake and eat it too.

"The report said increasing healthy marriages was important because In Kansas marriage decreases the likelihood of poverty by more than 80 percent."

kansanjayhawk 4 years ago

"Cortsoratis said the emphasis of the report on marriage, and out-of-wedlock births seemed out of place..." Really? This woman is the head of "Kansas Action for Children" and she cannot see that stable family life is the key to keeping children and families out of poverty? She and her organization seem to be missing the fundamental importance of family life in keeping our State strong economically and emotionally and spiritually. America needs to return to the Bible and learn to depend upon God and turn to Him for our strength. Depending on government alone is no answer at all.

weeslicket 4 years ago

and brownback is your savior. it's in the bible. (check the index)

whackamole 4 years ago

Know what really keeps kids out of poverty? Not being born into it in the first place.

Orwell 4 years ago

Oh, really? We should return to the same Bible that recounts numerous instances of polygamy without disapproval? See for example, these accounts: An accurate list of David's wives would include at least five named wives: Michal (1 Sam 18:27, 19:11-18, 25:44; 2 Sam 3:13-14, 6:20-23), Abigail of Carmel (1 Sam 25:39, 1 Chr 3), Ahinoam of Jezreel (1 Sam 25:43, 1 Chr 3), Eglah (2 Sam 3:4-5, 1 Chr 3) and Bathsheba (2 Sam 12:24). David also took "more wives and concubines" in 2 Sam 5:13, 12:7-8, 1 Chr 14:3. Three additional women are mentioned, but we are not told if they are wives or concubines: Maacah (2 Sam 3:3, 1 Chr 3), Abital (2 Sam 3:3-4, 1 Chr 3) and Haggith (2 Sam 3:3, 1 Chr 3). Lastly, there are the ten concubines, or wives as they are referred to in 2 Sam 5:13, 15:16, 16:21-23, 1 Chr 14:3, bringing David's total to at least 22+ "wives/concubines". According to 1 Kings 11:3, David's son Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines.

kansanjayhawk 4 years ago

taking scripture out of context does not address one of the issues of bringing society into conformity with Judeo/ christian values.

deec 4 years ago

Since this is not a "Judeo/ christian" nation, there's no reason to bring society into conformity with those values.

Cait McKnelly 4 years ago

"Judeo-Christian values?" That's interesting. Statistically, the highest rate of divorce and the highest rate of usage of porn is among fundamentalist Christians.
Great values there, Skippy.

globehead 4 years ago

" America needs to return to the Bible and learn to depend upon God and turn to Him for our strength. Depending on government alone is no answer at all."

And that sir is exactly why preachers should be dealing with this and not the government. Thank you for making that point.

kansanjayhawk 4 years ago

I agree with you that this is primarily an issue for families and churches, the private sector you might say, however, government policies can cause problems by discouraging work, creating dependency, and spurning morality. This is why conservatives want to bring conservative traditional family values to our social services agencies and implement work requirements and accountability.

globehead 4 years ago

HMMM! I always thought conservatives wanted government out of our private lives. I always thought conservatives wanted to adhere to so called strict constructionism. But, here I'm being told they want to implement "conservative traditional family values" to government agencies and I'm still searching the Constitution for a clause dealing with that in any manner. There certainly is no "marriage amendment" of any kind. Was I misled in the past or am I being misled now? Actually, I think I have a pretty good idea that I was misled BOTH times.

jimmyjms 4 years ago

"Traditional family values" like gutting education, condescending to and judging your fellow man, and rejoicing in greed and mean-spiritedness. No thanks.

jafs 4 years ago

"The issue is economic and emotional stability".

She seems to understand quite well that stable family life is desirable. But, she also understands that that's very possible without a traditional marriage.

Actually, given infidelity and divorce rates, one can easily argue that marriage in America isn't that stable at all.

kansanjayhawk 4 years ago

A traditional family with a mother and a father who love each other and nurture and treasure children should be the goal of government policy. We understand this is not always the case but as far as policy is concerned we should uphold this as the goal and as our values!

ebyrdstarr 4 years ago

Why should that be the goal of government policy? Social science hasn't demonstrated that such a familial set-up is superior for children to other formations. If the goal is to support and protect children, to make sure our next generation is put in the best position to keep the country going when their turn comes, shouldn't government policy be to support children and their families, no matter the make-up?

jafs 4 years ago


I'm very supportive of stable nurturing families, but see no need to limit that to "traditional" structures.

The goal of government policy should be to support any versions of families that nurture and protect children, in my opinion.

By the way, it's not just "not always" the case with traditional families - infidelity rates are at about 70% last time I looked, and divorce rates about 50%. I'd say that means that a traditional male-female marriage isn't very stable at all, statistically speaking. Add in some spouse and child abuse statistics, and "traditional" families don't look so great.

I'm for whatever works best for the children - I'd rather have an unmarried couple that's faithful to each other and stay together without abusing anybody than a traditional couple that cheats on each other, hits the kids, and breaks up.

Just one example - there are others.

jimmyjms 4 years ago

"A traditional family with a mother and a father who love each other and nurture and treasure children should be the goal of government policy"

You haven't the slightest grip on the role of government.

Lisa Medsker 4 years ago

It's true... My finances and every other aspect of my life are MUCH more stable, now that I'm not married. Ironically, it was to a "Traditional, Christian Fundamentalist".

kansanjayhawk 4 years ago

Have you ever heard of "upward mobility"? One does not always remain in the same economic circumstances, hard work can pay off and move a family up the economic ladder! This, is in fact, the norm families that remain intact over time tend to benefit economically by gaining upward mobility. On the other hand, divorce is the great wealth destroyer and can cast many into poverty of generations. Government policy should be aimed at reducing divorce and encouraging traditional marriage.

jimmyjms 4 years ago

There are just too many uninformed and honestly silly half-arguments in this post to address.

Joe Hyde 4 years ago

For middle and lower income Kansans who do marry before having children, the Koch administration -- I'm sorry, the Brownback administration -- is systematically making the odds of realizing financial security roughly that of a poker player drawing to an inside straight.

kansanjayhawk 4 years ago

evidence? I would say you have none--in fact, it is the high tax and anti-family policieis of Sebelius and her liberal ilk that tends to diminish the importance of marriage Sebelius and the liberal Democrats do not even seem to understand the importance of faith, morality, values, and hard work. Brownback is seeking to reduce burdensome regulation, cut taxes, and let the private sector flourish. This will in fact create economic growth that no government program could ever begin to imagine!

kernal 4 years ago

"...and the liberal Democrats do not even seem to understand the importance of faith, morality, values and hard work." The same can be said for many conservatives, jaysquawk. If you want creditibility, don't lump an entire group of people in one category because it never works.

jafs 4 years ago

There is no evidence that lower taxes, etc. create economic growth.

In fact, even Laffer admits that cutting taxes doesn't lead to growth.

Cait McKnelly 4 years ago

We've had Brownback and a conservative Teapublican legislature for five years, now. Kansas should just be SWIMMING in jobs. Oh wait. That's right. Kansas appears to be lagging in the economic recovery department. I wonder why?

jafs 4 years ago

We haven't had Brownback for 5 years, he's only been elected once so far.

So, it's been less than 4 years - it just feels like a lot longer :-)

Bob_Keeshan 4 years ago

"Though government at the state and federal level continues to pour money into anti-poverty programs, poverty rates continue to grow, "

This is true if you only go back 10 years.

It is false if you go back 40 years to the beginning of the programs being chided.

In other words, it is false.

question4u 4 years ago

"The report said increasing healthy marriages was important because In Kansas marriage decreases the likelihood of poverty by more than 80 percent."

On the surface this appears to be obvious nonsense, but hold on.

Sixteen-year-old fast-food workers have incomes below the poverty level and almost none of them are married Few college students have incomes above the poverty level and almost none of them are married. Now check on people in their thirties, forties, fifties, and sixties. There are a lot more of them living above the poverty level and, what do you know, a high percentage of them are married. Now check on retired people in their seventies, eighties and nineties. Yep, a high percentage of them have incomes below the poverty level and a high percentage have lost their spouses.

Now all you have to do is ignore the difference between a correlation and causality and you can argue that not being married increases your chances of living in poverty by 80%.

You can use the same sound logic and rigorous statistical analysis to demonstrate other important conclusions. For example, not owning a car increases your chances of living in poverty by 80%. Not owning a condo in Bermuda increases your chances of living in poverty by a lot too.

This is useful stuff and just the kind of thing that makes Kansas great.

tomatogrower 4 years ago

For the most part you are right. When you are married there is mostly 2 incomes coming in the family. And if a family is fortunate enough to have 1 stay at home spouse, that spouse has time to clip coupons, shop sales, grow and preserve food, etc. Someone with just 1 income can no longer survive well, unless they have a high paying job. When I was a young newly divorced mom, I had a good paying factory job that paid my low rent, my low utilities, my low day care, and I could even buy an inexpensive brand new car, with a warranty if anything went wrong with the car. Now those factory jobs are few and far between, and rent is really high, day care is through the roof, and finding a dependable, affordable used car is just impossible. I saw the writing on the wall, went to college and left the factory before it closed. In this era of high living expenses and wages that did not keep up with those living expenses, I might have been pressured into staying with my ex husband, who might have started beating our daughter when he got tired of beating me. I feel for the young women who realize too late that they have married or moved in with a monster.

kansanjayhawk 4 years ago

Statistics can prove anything...however, in this case there are multiple studies over a long period of time (50 years) that show that marriage tends to enhance upward mobiltiy. There are always exceptions, but as a rule, marriage tends to increase the economic circumstances of all members of the family, most especially women and children. Liberals who deny this and try to cloud the issue are just showing their moral bankruptcy and inability ot even address family life issues anymore. Political correctness has so infiltrated our social service philosophy that there are no longer answers even proposed for many of our social ills because they might have a bias or be viewed as "ethnocentric" or "racist".

deec 4 years ago

Please cite these studies, preferably original research.

deec 4 years ago

It's a magical piece of paper, this marriage contract, which automatically confers wealth on its signers. Mine must have been broken, though, because when I was married, I was still poor.

Carol Bowen 4 years ago

Phyllis Gilmore and her task force members need to experience or at least visit real life.

globehead 4 years ago

If Phyllis Gilmore is as successful with this initiative as she has been with directing DCF, nobody will be married in 10 years.

tomatogrower 4 years ago

Solve the single parent poverty problem? Free daycare and helping single moms and dads get an education. Bring in businesses that pay a living wage so you don't need 2 incomes.

Liberty275 4 years ago

Trade schools and more community colleges would fix the poverty problem in Kansas. Not everyone has the ability to attend a university or even a community college. That doesn't mean they can't be productive citizens with well-paying jobs, Show people they can have an actual career instead of a series of wage slave jobs and make the means of achieving such a career available to everyone at a nominal price and there would be no need to worry about hungry kids or living wages.

The two biggest problems with Lawrence are the lack of DCCC and DCTech. Where can I go in this town to learn to run a backhoe or learn to code in Java? "Round here, if your IQ isn't 110+, you might as well start rehearsing "would you like fires with that?".

Carol Bowen 4 years ago

I agree that we should diversify educational opportunities. However, I sense a misplaced assumption that young people with less than a 110 IQ should go to a VoTech school rather than college. It is possible for people with high IQs would prefer VoTech training. VoTech should not be considered remedial.

Liberty275 4 years ago

Yeah, you're right. Nothing about votech should be considered a lesser choice . Some votech people can go on to use those skills to have the Real American Dream or get rich. Trades can take lots of intelligence, but they are also great opportunities for those that aren't so gifted.

My reference to 110 was KU and the lack of choice students have here. University classes are a lot more demanding and out of reach of low-average students. They have very little opportunity to learn and grow in Lawrence and that is keeping them poor.

chootspa 4 years ago

There's a bus that goes straight to JCCC and a JCCC campus right here in Lawrence. JCCC also offers online classes. We don't really need a DCCC here - unless you'd like an expansion of our government offerings? Ooh, that's downright socialist coming from you.

Liberty275 4 years ago

The bus to JOCO is a huge problem. I got my first degree from 6 - 10 pm while working from 8 to 5. The math doesn't work out if you have to drive 30 miles to get to class after work.

Every American deserves the same opportunity to get an education. That's equality, not socialism.

chootspa 4 years ago

As I said, there's also online classes and a campus here in Lawrence, although I did manage to work 8-5 and take a 6-10pm class. It wasn't fun, but it was possible. Traffic mainly goes in the other direction, so it's not too bad to drive it. If you take the bus, you even get to sit down and do your homework on the way.

And ditto your point about equal opportunity. That's all progressives want. Rich people can be rich. Good for them. They just shouldn't have exclusive access to success, and that's one of the things that happens when we stop making education affordable.

Orwell 4 years ago

The theocrats in Topeka might want to look into a CDC report just out. It shows teen pregnancy nationwide has been in decline for the last five years, curiously coincident with the Obama administration. Even more curious is the fact that the teen pregnancy rate is highest in the red states, where "abstinence only" is the officially permitted approach to the issue.

Cait McKnelly 4 years ago

In actual fact, the teen birth rate is the lowest it's been in 70 years, since the CDC started keeping statistics on it.
"There aren’t fewer adolescents having sex, and there aren’t an increased number of abortions being performed. “What we have seen is greater availability of much more effective birth control methods” including long-lasting forms of contraception.
States in the South, which tend to lack adequate sexual health instruction in public schools, still have stubbornly high teen birth rates. While some states are slowly moving away from abstinence-only education in order to attempt to change that, conservatives still tend to resist efforts to expand sexual health resources for teens."

Oh and one Oklahoma school district has now officially dumped "abstinence only" sex education.

oldexbeat 4 years ago

but I just heard on Catholic Radio that there isn't a problem with to many people in the world and that we should have as many as possible ... duh.

Cheap labor and paying church members -- go Brownback.

tomatogrower 4 years ago

Conservative policy - Please marry, so we only have to pay half a living wage. Both of you can work for these wages, so it will add up to 1 living wage, and we can keep more of the profits. After all we built this and really don't need you workers. We are just being generous. We are the "Job Creators", but we really don't need any of you.

Paul R Getto 4 years ago

Data? We don't need no stinking data....

kansanjayhawk 4 years ago

I really think you need to consider that there are many Democrat voters doing exactly the same thing you are railing against above! What we need is for all people to think as Americans and not use a partisan label! We need to think about and consider issues carefully and then come to our own conclusions not based on what any politician or political party says!

chootspa 4 years ago

Yes, yes we do, and have you met Kettle?

jimmyjms 4 years ago

"What we need is for all people to think as Americans and not use a partisan label!"

But... Haven't you been slamming "liberals" and "their ilk" for a lack of "morality and traditional values" over the course o this thread? Goose and gander, etc.

Larry Sturm 4 years ago

They got rid of planned parenthood that helped a lot of people,they don't want any sex education in schools and when they raise marriage license there will just be more of people living together.

bearded_gnome 4 years ago

how about fewer children born into poverty?

anyone who thinks that big government is the solution is delusional.

when welfare got big in the 60's statistics do show that it had the unwanted effect of driving husbands/fthers out of families, most particularly hit were black families. now that's spreading to the rest of the culture. citing teen births down is yet another distracor shiney thing.

rates of out of wedlock birth are going up across our society.

and despite the silly claims of KAC (proabortion ... if a child survives the womb they then care for it) children are obviously better off in an two parent household, a mother and a father.

premarital education incentive in this proposal is a very good idea.

chootspa 4 years ago

Not quite. Welfare benefits rose in the 60s but FELL in the 70s and 80s while out-of-wedlock births continued to climb in spite of the benefits changes. In fact, they jumped even higher during the period of declining benefits.

Liberty275 4 years ago

Please, Mr Bureaucrat, please tell me I shouldn't beat my wife or get my girlfriend pregnant. I don't already know that.

More unwarranted government intrusion into citizen's personal lives. While my wife and I have been married 15 years, if I was forced to take a class on marriage and listen to the opinions of people that don't care if I exist except on tax day, we would just go common law. I don't need Jesus telling me how I should love my wife and I don't need the state doing it either.

Also, I don't want my taxes spent on telling other people how to live their personal lives. It isn't my business and it isn't something I can ethically help finance.

No More.

Alceste 4 years ago

Jimmy Buffet offered a very practical and realistic approach to making and keeping a family. Buffet seems to have done "ok" financially with this not so difficult "standard for living".

jayhawxrok 4 years ago

Once again right wing buffoons are on the wrong track. Brownback is a zealot, unqualified for the office he holds. He was a disgrace in the House but KS voters checked the box because he had an R by his name. He and The Kochs and Kobach are killing this state.

Richard Heckler 4 years ago

"TOPEKA — An emphasis on marriage and a decrease in out-of-wedlock births are two main recommendations from Gov. Sam Brownback's task force"

This is not the business of government. This is a perfect example of VERY BIG GOVERNMENT INTERFERING WITH PRIVATE LIVES......... also not the business of government.

Sam Brownback is a master in deception. Marriage cannot guarantee no child lives in poverty. BUT republicans have introduced some programs over the years that create poverty to millions upon millions of families through forced unemployment. Allow me to clarify.

Republicans in general cost the USA too much money! And take out economies at the speed of light!!!

--- This GOP ENTITLEMENT - TABOR is Coming by Grover Norquist = Grab Your Wallets! .

--- This GOP ENTITLEMENT - Bailing out The Reagan/Bush Savings and Loan Heist aka home loan scandal sent the economy out the window costing taxpayers many many billions and millions of jobs, loss of retirement plans and loss of medical insurance. .

--- This GOP ENTITLEMENT Bailing out the Bush/Cheney Home Loan Wall Street Bank Fraud cost consumers $ trillions, millions of jobs, loss of retirement plans and loss of medical insurance. Exactly like the Reagan/Bush home loan scam. Déjà vu can we say. Yep seems to be a pattern. .

--- This GOP ENTITLEMENT - Bush/Cheney implied many financial institutions were at risk instead of only 3? One of the biggest lies perpetrated to American citizens. Where did this money go? Why were some banks forced to take bail out money? .

--- RECKLESS GOP Tax cuts = THE GOP ENTITLEMENT program for the wealthy which do nothing to make an economy strong or produce jobs. Tax cuts are a tax increase to others in order to make up the loss in revenue = duped again. Bush Tax Cuts aka .

Richard Heckler 4 years ago

Sam Brownback put a large number of state employees out of work yet he claims to be concerned about poverty. This man is infected with ALEC.

Richard Heckler 4 years ago

Leveraged Buyouts have been killing USA jobs for 33 years. Mitt Romney and friends have been very busy ruining the USA. Sam Brownback was in the beltway watching NOT preventing. Why do big USA banks finance the unemployment of America?

For example.

A four year degree is not quite enough. Having two or three sources of income is not a bad idea. Why? There are at least 6 reasons to keep in mind.

  1. Mergers
  2. Hostile Takeovers
  3. Leveraged Buyouts
  4. Free Trade Agreements
  5. Reagan/Bush Savings and Loan home loan scandal which killed the economy and cost the USA millions of jobs.
  6. Bush/Cheney Home Loan scandal killed the economy and cost the USA millions of jobs

All of above ultimately translate into millions upon millions upon millions of USA job losses. Big time layoffs are the end result. These jobs go abroad with tax codes that prevent taxation on profits made abroad from USA big name corporations.

There was a time when becoming employed by corporate America came with long term employment, fine wages and dependable retirement benefits. Those days are gone.

William Weissbeck 4 years ago

I guess the fact the unwed teen births are at the lowest level in decades and declining is lost on those claiming the correlation to current poverty levels. Rather than feed the poor, give them religion.

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