Monday, August 22, 2011

Information Alert: McDonnell Comments on Family, Child Poverty

Home About Blog Events Initiatives Media Take Action Contribute Contact VAFF on Facebook VAFF on YouTube VAFF on Flickr RSS Feed Image Map

Victoria Cobb, President
Monday, August 22, 2011

Information Alert: McDonnell Comments on Family, Child Poverty

On Friday, Governor Bob McDonnell said something that social scientists have known for quite some time: family fragmentation is costing our culture dearly.  Of course, such a pronouncement made news presumably because it doesn’t place the blame for poverty at the feet of “the rich.”

But the Governor is right.  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.  He suggests that childhood poverty could drop as much as 20 percent if we increased the marriage rate in Virginia.

The science also tells us that it is our c
hildren who 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.

The statistics are the evidence of why government actually does have a fundamental interest in marriage.  Those libertarians who make the absurd claim that “government should get out of marriage” simply don’t understand the inexorable link between good families and good government.  They may long for “limited government,” but by reducing marriage to a “religious” thing, they invite ever expanding government programs.

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.  Based on his comments Friday and what is happening at DSS, Governor McDonnell already has.

** Please forward this e-mail to friends and family who you think are interested in issues affecting traditional values and encourage them to sign up for alerts at **


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. In a letter today, Victoria Cobb stated        "Those libertarians who make the absurd claim that “government should get out of marriage”... invite ever expanding government programs."
    I do not accept the absurd argument that the suggestion that marriage need not be a government contract involving the Commonwealth of Virginia libertarians "invite ever expanding government programs." I am all for encouraging traditional families. It is a matter of what parties are best suited to the task. I think the most absurd claim to be made is that government bureaucrats legally bound not to endorse any particular religion should even be involved at all. I say, do not shirk your charitable responsibilities off onto the state so you can sleep better when nothing is done. If you felt strengthening families is truly important, you would go about making the change in your community and not allow politicians to institutionalize the issue to build power and hire more bureaucrats. Perhaps its just me, but if I care about something or need to get something done (other than form a military and go to war,) the last place I'd turn is the government. If we are to be a moral people capable of self governance we must be willing to keep some of our own responsibilities and not turn everything over to the government.