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.”