It’s the Single Parenting, Stupid

The annual Kids Count report is out, and nothing’s changed since 2016: “[F]or a second consecutive year … New Mexico [ranked] 49th in the country for overall child well-being and dead last in education.”

As is always worth noting when Kids Count is released, the publisher of the report, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, is a far-left organization. It pushes for “bold and decisive action” (translation: Big Government) to improve the condition of children in America.

If the foundation were truly committed to making every kid count, it would be much more vocal on the role illegitimacy and divorce play in poverty and abuse. It would also be intensely exploring how government programs promote out-of-wedlock births and family fragmentation.

It’s hardly surprising that the three states that rank worst overall on Kids Count in 2017 also rank worst on illegitimacy. Mississippi is rock-bottom on both metrics, while Louisiana and New Mexico switch places when it comes to unmarried mothers. Other top-ten states in out-of-wedlock births that cluster toward the bottom of Kids Count include South Carolina, Nevada, Arizona, Florida, and Georgia. High-divorce states (e.g., West Virginia, Nevada, Arkansas, Alabama) tend to fare poorly on child outcomes, too.

To its credit, Kids Count makes note of the undeniable data:

Children growing up in single-parent families typically have access to fewer economic and emotional resources than children in two-parent families. In 2015, 35 percent of single-parent families had incomes below the poverty line, compared with 8 percent of married couples with children. They also have poorer health and educational outcomes and are more likely to drop out of school, to have or cause a teen pregnancy and to experience a divorce in adulthood.

But inexcusably, the issue isn’t addressed until page 43 of the report — and the main text (before the start of endnotes) stops at page 45!

While there are many well-intentioned members of the left-leaning “for the children” movement, they are unlikely to make much progress on the problem they claim to combat until single parenting is recognized as a force multiplier for social pathologies. “No judgements” may feel good, but as social policy, it’s been a disaster.