Family stabilization: improving child health, educational and economic outcomes by strengthening mother's and father's ability to work together to raise their children with a focus on men; building human capital rather than building more jails.
Young men who disconnect from the mainstream and drop out of school will frequently enter a drug-based economy that often results in a criminal record thus decreasing their employability and their ability to provide stability and security for the mother of their babies. Therefore, many mothers continue to raise their children alone.
Research revealed the compelling links between family fragmentation and the core social issues facing the community. The family fragmentation is a major contributor to poverty, poorer health outcomes, crime and violence, abuse and neglect, poorer school performance with higher rates of truancy and dropout.
Use of violence to address disagreements in Richmond is pervasive, with youth violence leading the cause of death among youth 15-24
years of age. Although, the data suggests that violence related death among youth is declining, violence related referrals to the City of Richmond Department of Justice Services has steadily increased over the years. Approximately, 45% of unique client services were of this nature in 2012.
The children in single parent households are 5 times more likely to be raised in poverty. This becomes a multigenerational cycle as many of the children in these single primarily female head of household homes have limited exposure to healthy relationships between a mother and father, thus growing up without a healthy relationship model. The boys raised in single female-head-of-household homes are particularly disadvantaged regarding their economic future and are less likely to be employed and thus less likely to be in a healthy ongoing relationship with the mother of their babies – and the cycle continues. (Wayward Sons: The Emerging Gender Gap In Labor Markets And Education, David Autor And Melanie Wasserman, 2013)
The most significant demographic trend in Richmond City, like many similar cities, is the trend toward single (father absent) births, with 63% of all births in Richmond occurring to women who are single at the time of birth, who are left raising the baby alone. This is not just a teen pregnancy issue; 75% of these single birth to are women 20 years of age or older. Single births are up from 10% in 1950, 20% in 1965, to 64% in 2012.
On all of these dimensions, the gaps between young black men and other groups have widened over the past few decades. In addition, many young black men are non-custodial fathers with steep child support orders, some of whom are likely to be in arrears due to a period of incarceration. Those in arrears are likely to face tax rates as high as 65 percent on their meager earnings. Escalating arrears and a father's inability to pay creates numerous problems in some families.
Using the Scafidi costing model, we applied a simple and extremely cautious assumption that one third (1/3) of all the costs for antipoverty programs stem from the effects that family fragmentation has on poverty; a causal mechanism that is well-accepted and has been reasonably well quantified in the literature. Based on this methodology it is estimated that family fragmentation in Richmond costs at least $205 million in 2012 or over a billion dollars every 5 years.
Specific Prevention/Intervention Needs:
- Father Engagement training and programming
- Co-Parenting competencies
- Young Male Development
- Research and capacity support to Richmond City based community partners in order to improve the cooperative parenting relationships between mothers and fathers. So, parenting not just for single women with children, but efforts to engage fathers in the process.
- Prevention and intervention strategies to instill the base principles of manhood, fatherhood, motherhood and co-parenting.
- Healthy communication skills to improve the relationships between mothers and fathers to directly assist them in working cooperatively together to raise their children.