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Task force told out-of-wedlock births to blame for child poverty


Gov. Sam Brownback's newly formed task force on child poverty was told Monday that the increase in "non-marital 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 consider to be living under the poverty level.

Haskins said "Non-marital 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.


Hooligan_016 5 years, 7 months ago

But god forbid a child have 2 "dads" or 2 "moms".

chootspa 5 years, 7 months ago

Better those kids live in an institution than have a stable family life that involved something the current state theocracy views as sinful.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 7 months ago

Sam Brownback economics is why children are living in poverty. Right wing politicians and some in corporate America do not believe in sustainable wages.

Nothing but corruption coming from the Brownback administration and a whole of misinformation.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 7 months ago

I keep hearing about all of this "free stuff" that Democrats are handing out. Can you please enumerate what "free stuff" they are passing out?

uncleandyt 5 years, 7 months ago

The "left" in your radio's head is a fiction. Private prisons destroy the traditional family by locking up Mom and/or Dad. Honesty insists that you investigate the destinations of free stuff. Hand-me-down nonsense is not worth anyone's time. Are you paid to parrot? Think, harder!

Steve Bunch 5 years, 7 months ago

Here's what's coming: Unmarried mothers will be denied aid for dependent children unless they agree to sterilization. Brownback might even let Obamacare pay for it.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 7 months ago

Oh no, Brownback won't demand sterilization. He'll just refuse benefits to any child in a single parent home (unless it's a widow. Widows are ok.). He won't demand sterilization because he's a "Catholic" (although he hasn't attended a Catholic church since he left DC).

akt2 5 years, 7 months ago

Where does the child with divorced parents, one being a deadbeat, figure in to the statistic for children living in poverty? Since these kids are often in homes with multiple siblings, I think this would also be a major factor. More so than non-marital births.

deec 5 years, 7 months ago

Or, gosh, maybe more people are living in poverty because corporations made most of the good-paying jobs disappear. if they could figure out a way to make the rest go away, they would.

From last year:

"The median paycheck — half made more, half less — fell again in 2010, down 1.2 percent to $26,364. That works out to $507 a week, the lowest level, after adjusting for inflation, since 1999."


jafs 5 years, 7 months ago

In 2012, the US median salary was quite a bit higher than that, at about $50K.

Still lower than one might think, or want.

deec 5 years, 7 months ago

"The "raw" average wage, computed as net compensation divided by the number of wage earners, is $6,238,607,249,941.26 divided by 151,380,749, or $41,211.36. Based on data in the table below, about 66.6 percent of wage earners had net compensation less than or equal to the $41,211.36 raw average wage. By definition, 50 percent of wage earners had net compensation less than or equal to the median wage, which is estimated to be $26,965.43 for 2011."


jafs 5 years, 7 months ago

I said in 2012.

Average and median salaries are different things.

My sources showed about $47K for average, and about $50K for median, in 2012.

deec 5 years, 7 months ago

2012 figures have not yet been compiled using the Social Security data I cited. It seems unlikely using the model I've cited, that income has nearly doubled in 2012.

jafs 5 years, 7 months ago

Well, the first source is a survey.

But, I seem to recall actual government data as well. I'll check a bit more and get you my source.

Ok, I think I figured out the problem. I may have been looking at household income, and you at personal income.

Household income median levels are at about $50K, but individual levels are quite a bit lower, at about your level.

It's even worse than I thought :-(

chootspa 5 years, 7 months ago

Well, gee, if you didn't throw fits about having access to birth control or force women to give birth when they face unintended pregnancies, you might be able to reduce the number of single mothers.

If your aim is to increase the number of women who attend college (which actually does statistically lower the likelihood of both giving birth out of wedlock and of living in poverty) you'll need to lower the cost to attend college. Tuition costs have been skyrocketing, even as state support for higher education has decreased. "Run more like a business" ring any bells?

If your concern is just that these women are living in poverty because of expenses associated with having a child, you can start funding preschool and daycare for women to attend school or go back to work, or you can do more to enforce child support judgements and prevent dead beat dads.

Arguably, I'd say all of those things are good policy, and I'd also say none of them are likely to see light of day under the current conservative administration.

rtwngr 5 years, 7 months ago

1) Birth control is unrestricted. It can be obtained free if necessary, inexpensively at worst. Abortion was never intended to be birth control, even by its supporters. Does the phrase, "Safe but rare" sound familiar. Even still, abortion is available if that is the intention. 2) Talk to the state's board of regents about tuition costs. It's not up to the government to set tuition and fees but you are a lib and you don't understand that government was not set up to do these sorts of things. 3) Fund preschool and daycare? So you want more free stuff but don't want to call it that? Am I understanding you Mr. or Ms. 47%?

chootspa 5 years, 7 months ago

It does appear to be the origination source of those assumptions, however.

chootspa 5 years, 7 months ago

The funding for low income women's health services has been increasingly jeopardized. Don't tell me that everyone can just use condoms, because that relies on honest men who use them correctly - think those are the sort turning women into single mothers? Brownback signed a law allowing pharmacists to refuse to fill birth control prescriptions. Legislation made the rounds last time that potentially jeopardized KUMED's ability to train the next generation of OBGYNs, and there's this big stink about - oh heaven forbid- allowing your non Catholic employee access to birth control as part of their basic insurance plan. You want to reduce the number of abortions? I do. The best way to do it is to make sure women and girls have access to education and birth control. The war on abortions has jeopardized access to women's health services of any sort.

2) The Board of Regents is part of the state. The members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state senate. This civics lesson brought to you by a college education. You should try it, although I hear it's a lot more expensive than it used to be.

3) I do pay income taxes and wouldn't be in any way eligible for daycare or preschool, funded or otherwise. Argument fail. Some of us recognize that it's cheaper to pay for a single mother's preschool and daycare than it is to pay for the lifetime of poverty that will result if that mother doesn't go back to school or work. It's an investment.

Pepe 5 years, 7 months ago

I'm not sure that there is anything very controversial in what was said. There is a causation and correlation between out of wedlock births and poverty. Certainly, there are other factors that can cause or contribute to childhood poverty, but I don't think anyone can argue that children born out-of-wedlock are generally going to have a much tougher time financially than those born to two parent households (whether the two parents are of different sex or same sex). In other words, two parents are generally better than one when it comes to the finances of raising a child.

It seems like the headline is a bit misleading -- it implies that the task force said that out of wedlock births are the only cause of childhood poverty and I don't think that is what the article really says.

Hooligan_016 5 years, 7 months ago

I would agree with you for the most part. As chootspa mentioned in the post above, there are other factors that influence out-of-wedlock births (i.e. contraception) that are being ignored and outright banned by the State.

It is a very complex and tough situation, but if the State isn't even going to let institutions thoroughly teach teens about safe-sex practices, then this task force is a sham.

hedshrinker 5 years, 7 months ago

One of the first thing they teach in any kind of sociology or psychology class is that just b/c 2 things co-occur DOES NOT mean one causes the other. It's the worst kind of error to assume that not being married CAUSES all kinds of negative consequences....I personally can think of many kids raised in single parent, or non-married parents of whatever configuration who are far better off than many of the married but miserable/violent/abusive variety. A marriage ceremony does not automatically confer any immunity from societal ills and bad outcomes.

Pepe 5 years, 7 months ago

You are talking about correlation versus causation. Certainly, you are correct that they are not the same thing. That being said, I don't think anyone could argue with a straight face that there is not both correlation and causation between out of wedlock births and childhood poverty.

Certainly, marriage is no absolute prevention of all societal ills. However, all else being equal, a child of a two parent household has a better chance of success than an out of wedlock child raised by a single parent.

Bob_Keeshan 5 years, 7 months ago

The solution, of course, is abstinence-only sex education.

KansasPerson 5 years, 7 months ago

I find the wording here to be confusing. The article talks about the risks for children of "non-marital births" but then the data they use to support this talks about the poverty rate in "female-headed households." As another commenter pointed out, these are not necessarily the same thing. While it may seem obvious that a single-income household is going to have less money than a two-income household, I think the wording blurs the issue by putting divorced mothers and never-married mothers in the same category. (I don't know why we aren't talking about single-parent homes where the parent is the father, but that's another story.) And while I wish EVERYONE had a happy stable relationship and EVERY child could grow up without experiencing poverty, it's just not always going to work out that way -- and I'm very leery of statistics possibly being used to coerce people into staying in (or getting into) bad marriages.

deec 5 years, 7 months ago

One way to increase the income of single parents would be to pay women the same wages as men for the same or comparable jobs. Another way to decrease poverty is by increasing the minimum wage and encouraging unions in the low-wage industries dominated by women employees.

notaubermime 5 years, 7 months ago

What?! A single income household is more likely to be below the poverty line than one with two possible incomes? Get real. Next thing they are going to try to tell us is that the snozberries taste like snozberries!

jonas_opines 5 years, 7 months ago

I recall the Brownback administration, back when first elected, saying that one of their major fixes for the economy was to promote marriage, for this very reason. They ran on the terrible economy, and that wound up being their solution. Their only solution, as far as I can tell.

Katara 5 years, 7 months ago

Yup, the suggestion was for women to "marry up".

deec 5 years, 7 months ago

So if you have kids while holding a good job and then lose your job, or become disabled, or your partner dies or otherwise abandons you, whatever shall we do with the children who are ALREADY HERE?

Are you advocating for post-birth abortion?

verity 5 years, 7 months ago

So? ? ?

Is this new task force formed by the governor going to actually do something or just collect information to lay blame?

chootspa 5 years, 7 months ago

I'm guessing the latter and not the former.

jafs 5 years, 7 months ago

It will almost certainly result in programs designed to encourage people to get and stay married.

Larry Sturm 5 years, 7 months ago

doing away with planned parenthood didn't help that situation. equil pay for equil work for women would help. making deadbeat dad's pay child support would also help.

tomatogrower 5 years, 7 months ago

Sure. Blame it on anything, but businesses who don't want to pay a living wage and corporations who took good manufacturing jobs out of the country, so they could pretend it improved their profits.

Pepe 5 years, 7 months ago

Why would corporations take jobs out of the country to "pretend" it improved their profits? A corporation's primary ethical responsibility is to maximize profits for it's shareholders -- what possible incentive would a corporation have to ship jobs overseas other than to increase profit and return to it's investors?

akt2 5 years, 7 months ago

One of the kindest things you can do for your teenage daughter is to take her to the doctor to obtain birth control. She won't be a statistic for such ridiculous task forces, that are no doubt led by men who don't have a clue about prevention of teen pregnancy or the consequences of unplanned pregnancies.

Maddy Griffin 5 years, 7 months ago

Another attackon women.If deadbeat Dads paid their support, it wouldn't be 41%.

jafs 5 years, 7 months ago

Of course.

Because the welfare of those kids is nobody else's concern.

The only birth control that is 99% effective is the Pill, as far as I know, and it's not cheap.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 7 months ago

Oh fer crissakes. You have corporations suing to ban contraception from the ACA, states like Oklahoma, Texas and KANSAS trying to defund Planned Parenthood and then there's THIS little gem about what happens to women denied abortions:
and you want to blame child poverty on "out of wedlock" (what an archaic phrase!) births?
Jesus, Sam, just start firing up the factories to make scarlet "A"s!

bd 5 years, 7 months ago

chastity belts until they are 18 and prison for deadbeat dads!!!!

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 7 months ago

Oh and by the way, I can count five...FIVE...couples that I currently know, just in the Lawrence area, that are not married and raising their children in a two parent family. This slanted study isn't worth the paper the state printed it on and I'm sure the Heritage Foundation is eating it up.

pusscanthropus 5 years, 7 months ago

So who marries whom? As I posted in the other thread, having numerous children with several baby-mamas means Brownback will have to legalize polygamy. It is a status symbol "on the streets" to have multiple baby-mamas.

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