By Daniel Barker
Nearly two-thirds of American children now live in households receiving aid from at least one federal agency, according to a recent report from the Census Bureau.
This staggering figure is based on data compiled from interviews from the fall of 2011 that were conducted as part of the 2008 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP).
The federal programs being accessed by these households include Medicaid, the National School Lunch Program, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
Of these programs, the one most commonly participated in was the National School Lunch Program, with an enrollment of 35 million children. In second place was Medicaid (26.4 million participants), followed by SNAP (17.3 million), WIC (6.4 million) and TANF (2.3 million).
The Census Bureau report, titled “A Child’s Day: Living Arrangements, Nativity, and Family Transitions: 2011 (Selected Indicators of Child Well-Being),” interprets the compiled data to highlight “how family structure, nativity, and family instability are associated with selected measures of child well-being”:
Measures of child well-being include family reading practices, shared meal times, television rules, children’s extracurricular activities, and school performance, as well as early child care experiences.
By sifting through and examining the data according to various factors, such as nativity and family structure, some interesting patterns begin to emerge. For instance, the rate of poverty was much higher in households where only one parent is present.
And, perhaps unsurprisingly, the high percentage of single parent households in America seems to be at least partly due to — as CNSNews.com commentator Terence P. Jeffrey puts it — “[a] disrespect for marriage and traditional family life [that] is a homegrown product of the United States.”
In fact, the rate of child poverty in American households with only one parent was more than 40 percent. In families where there are two unmarried parents, the poverty rate was 37.3 percent.
However, among households with two married parents, the child poverty rate was only 14 percent.
Nearly 73 percent of children with at least one foreign-born parent live in households with two married parents, compared with only 59.8 percent among children with parents who were both born in the U.S.
These figures and others contained in the report suggest that traditional family units (and values) have a direct bearing on the well-being of children, especially in terms of whether or not they will grow up in poverty.
The number of children needing federal assistance has been increasing steadily over the past decade. In 2003, only 56 percent of American children lived in households receiving aid from the above-mentioned agencies. By 2011, that number had increased to 65 percent — a 9 percent increase in less than a decade.
It appears that the changes in family structure — namely the trend toward non-traditional family units (single-parent households and unmarried parent households) — has had a measurably negative effect on the children involved. As the nation moves away from its time-honored core values, its children suffer.
And children who grow up in poverty are likely to remain in poverty throughout their lives — poverty is a trap that often proves to be very difficult to escape.
Traditional family values are not simply part of an old-fashioned belief system that can be discarded without consequences.
As Mr. Jeffrey notes in the conclusion of his commentary:
The ultimate struggle for the future of America is not political or economic, but cultural. It is between those who believe in self-reliance and traditional family life and those who do not.
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