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The Administration for Children and Families African American Healthy Marriage Initiative Mission Statement: “Promote and Strengthen the Institution of Healthy Marriage in the African American Community” Benefits of Marriage for Children

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The Administration for Children and Families

African American Healthy Marriage Initiative

Mission Statement:

“Promote and Strengthen the Institution of Healthy Marriage in the African American Community”


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Benefits of Marriage for Children

  • 9% of children under six in two-parent households are poor - compared to 47% of those living in single-mother households.

  • 45% of children raised by divorced mothers and 69% raised by never-married mothers live in or near poverty.


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Compared to children in one-parent households, children in two-parent households are:

  • Less than half as likely to have emotional or behavioral problems.

  • A third as likely to use illegal drugs, alcohol or tobacco.

  • 44% less likely to be physically abused, or neglected.

  • Boys are only half as likely to commit a crime leading to incarceration by their thirties.


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Chart 16. Serious Child Abuse and Marriage

Serious Child Abuse Is Less Likely In Married Families

Comparative Rates of Abuse

35

30

25

20

15

10

5

33

20

14

6

1

Married Mother Married Biological Biological Biological

Biological Parents to Stepfather Mother Alone Parents Mother

Cohabitating Cohabitating

A child living alone with a single mother is 14 times more likely to suffer serious physical abuse than is a child living with both biological parents united in marriage. A child whose mother cohabits with a man who is not the child’s father is 33 times more likely to suffer serious physical abuse than is a child living with both biological parents in an intact marriage.

Source: Heritage analysis of British data based on Comparative Risk Ratios for Serious Abuse 1982-1988, in Robert Whelan, Broken Homes and Battered Children, Family Education Trust, United Kingdom, 1994. No similar data available for the United States.


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Chart 20. School Failure and Marriage

Children In Intact Married Families Are Less Likely To Repeat A Grade

Percent of Children in 1998 Survey Who Repeat A Grade

35%

30

25

20

15

10

5

29.7%

21.7%

21.5%

11.6%

Married Biological Mother Formerly Mother and Mother Never Married

Parents Married Stepfather

Children of divorced mothers and children in stepfamilies are almost twice as likely to fail in school and repeat a grade when compared with children raised by both biological parents in an intact marriage. Children raised by a never-married mother are more twice as likely to repeat a grade when compared with children raised in intact marriages.

Source: Deborah A. Dawson, “Family Structure and Children’s Health and Well Being: Data from the 1988 National Health Interview Survey of Child Health,” Journal of Marriage and the Family, Vol. 53 (August 1991), pp.573-584. See http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis.htm.


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Culturally Competent Strategies -Why a Focused AAHMI Strategy?

  • 35% of Americans between 24 and 34 have never married. For African Americans that figure is 54%.

  • African Americans are less likely than any other group in America to ever marry.

  • 76% of American families are headed by married couples. The figure for African American families is 47.9%.

    Source: KidsCount/2000 Census


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Culturally Competent Strategies -National Data(KidsCount and 2000 Census Figures)

  • Only 33.3%of African American children in the U.S. live in married-couple families, compared to 74.6% of Non-Hispanic White children.

  • 46.2% of U.S. African American children live in single-parent families, compared to only 17.7% of Non-Hispanic White children.

  • 12.0% of U.S. African American children live with neither parent, compared with 3.7% of Non-Hispanic White children.

  • In the U.S., 33.1% of African American children were living in poverty in 1999, while only 9.4% of African American children living in married couple families were living in poverty.


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Increase of single-parent households has increased for all children, and especially African American children.

  • Between 1960 and 1995, we have seen a drop from 75% to 33% of African American children living with two married parents.

  • Compared to a national average of 33%, 69% of African American births are to unmarried mothers.


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The African American Healthy Marriage Initiative (AAHMI) promotes culturally competent strategies:

  • Improved child well-being.

  • Healthy marriages.

  • Responsible fatherhood.

  • Strengthening African American families.

  • Strengthening African American communities.


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Encouraging Trends

  • Increase from 33% to 36% between 1995 and 1998 of African American children living in two-parent families.

  • Number of African American children under age 18 living in two-parent homes rose from 3.9 million in 1980 to 4.1 million in 1998.

  • We have seen a decline in Black teenage birth rates and an increase in the age Black women have children.


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Fragile Families Study(Funded by HHS and supported by several private foundations)

  • At birth of their child, one half of unwed parents are living together and the majority are optimistic about their future together.

  • Three quarters of the mothers believe the chances of marrying the father of their child are “50-50” or better.

  • Two thirds of unwed parents believe that “It is better for children if parents are married”.

  • 80% of fathers provided some financial support during the pregnancy, 84% will have their name on the birth certificate, and 79% of the children will take the father’s surname.

  • Most fathers want to help raise their children and the overwhelming majority of mothers want the fathers involved.

  • This data showcases a marriage “window of opportunity” that deteriorates over time following the birth of the child, under-scoring the precarious socioeconomic circumstances of unwed parents and the barriers to marriage that many of them face.


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Importance of the Healthy Marriage Initiative for States

  • State healthy marriage policy and strategies should target the “window of opportunity” preceding and following out-of-wedlock births.

  • Promote State services for fragile families that encourage marriage (reduce social and tax policies that penalize marriage, increase paternal and maternal self-sufficiency initiatives, and promote State healthy marriage initiatives.

  • Review TANF, Child Support and other State-Administered programs to incorporate marriage-friendly strategies and remove marriage disincentives.

  • Successful State Healthy Marriage Initiatives will reduce future State expenditures in the welfare, education, and criminal justice arenas, and increase State revenues because of a significantly more productive future workforce.


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A Three-Component AAHMI Strategy:

  • 1. Education and Communication with the African American community. Four AAHMI Forums have been scheduled around the country, each one with a different theme: (1) Youth/Young Adults, (2) Business/Media, (3) Faith and Community-Based Organizations, and (4) Hip Hop. The first three have already taken place. The last one will take place in Los Angeles on September 25-26, 2004.

  • 2. Enhancing Partnerships for stabilizing families and communities.

  • 3. Identifying and accessing community and other resources to support the AAHMI.


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Available Funding Sources:

  • State TANF Dollars.

  • State Child Welfare Safe and Stable Dollars.

  • ACF’s OCSE has funded 1115 Community Healthy Marriage Demonstration projects in seven states: Idaho, Michigan, Virginia, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Illinois, and Louisiana.

  • State Office of Refugee Resettlement.

  • ACF Administration for Native Americans.

  • ACF Office of Community Services – (compassion capital, family violence prevention).

  • DHHS – Maternal and Child Health – SPRANS Community-Based Abstinence Education Grant.

  • ACF Website: www.acf.hhs.gov


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