The Cost of Family Breakdown in Richmond

This is the answer. Help make it happen.

This is the answer. Help make it happen.

Family breakdown and the absence of fathers in the household in the City of Richmond costs taxpayers at the federal, state and local levels a mind-boggling $205 million a year, according to a new report issued by the Richmond Family & Fatherhood Initiative. The study bases that figure on the  assumption that a “minimum” of one-third of all antipoverty program costs stem from family fragmentation, a mechanism that is “reasonably well quantified in the literature.”

States the report: “Research shows the high cost to mothers, children and the fathers of these children in terms of broken relationships, lost dreams, poorer health outcomes, poor school performance and unresolved anger driving a culture of hopelessness and poverty. Often young men, impacted by family fragmentation and father absence will disconnect from the mainstream, drop out of school and enter a drug-based economy. The result … is often an increase in criminal records and a decrease in employability and their potential for marriage.”

Profile of the Richmond Absent Father

  • 64% of all births in the City of Richmond are by single women.
  • 28% of non-residential parents had no contact with their children in the past  year.
  • Male participants say family planning is primary responsibility of females.
  • 1,198 fathers have multiple child support cases.
  • 4,987 child-support cases with no payment made as of February 2010.

What’s the solution? First, change the culture; elevate the role of fatherhood. Second, change the economy; increase employment opportunities for young males. Third, reform incarceration policy; ease reentry from jails and prisons.

Comments Sarah Scarbrough on her blog: “More money today is being spent on incarcerating than fixing the problem. We all know drugs are a problem. We know crime is out of control. Recidivism rates are climbing. Single parent households are a large contributor and should be focused on as a large part of the solution.” 


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4 responses to “The Cost of Family Breakdown in Richmond

  1. The basic problem is education and jobs.

    Think back to how poor rural uneducated white folks made a living.


    make it illegal and what happens to mom and kids when dad goes off to the hoosegow ?

    Dad gets out – now, not only still does not have an education but in addition a prison record.

    how does he make a living? moonshine.

    now paint the face black and put him in an urban environment in the same circumstances and ask what happens.

    the same thing.

    isn’t this the essence of the problem?

  2. Changing the culture doesn’t only entail elevating the role of fatherhood, but also moving away from a culture of masculinity that encourages boys and men to repress their emotions and avoid forming real connectiosn with others:

    As far as I can tell, plenty of men are happy to sire many children (being a father in the most literal sense), but actually connecting with and caring for their children isn’t something that’s valued as being important to masculinity.

  3. When you say “moving away from a culture of masculinity that encourages boys and men to repress their emotions,” are you referring to rap misogyny? Or middle-class values and mores?

    Rap musicians, who set the moral tenor for a lot of young men, don’t seem to expend a lot of effort repressing their emotions. Indeed, I would say that they could benefit from expending *more* effort repressing their emotions. I would argue that the greatest contribution of civilization has been the taming of the male id. A lot of emotions are best left unexpressed.

  4. I have trouble in focusing this down to a single culture or race. I’m not saying it may not be true – I’m just saying that from what I know over thousands of years of culture on the globe – it seems not reasonable to isolate this down to one race and culture in modern times.

    In any culture were jobs are scarce and those without jobs gravitate towards whatever they can to make a living – and that ends up being something they can be imprisoned for – I wonder why we are surprised as to the outcome.

    Remember – as a society – we have more people in prison due to “illegal” activities than any other country – on the planet.

    that’s does not come without impacts.

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