Kansas Pursues Innovative Program to Promote Marriage to Unwed Parents


In the AP:

[Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas] has long been an advocate of promoting healthy marriages, contending that children raised by married couples are more likely to succeed in school, less likely to have behavior problems or live in poverty.

He promised a focus on family life when he appointed Rob Siedlecki, a former board member of the National Fatherhood Initiative, to lead the social services agency.

“The governor’s priority issue is reducing child poverty in Kansas. This is part of that approach,” said Angela De Rocha, spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services.

If the state receives the grant, the federal government would pay to send unwed parents to six counseling sessions offered by either secular or faith-based counseling services chosen by the state. The parents would volunteer for the program and could choose the kind of counseling service they wanted.

If the parents completed the program and marry, the federal grant would pay the $85.50 cost of their marriage license.

The state estimates that more than 7,600 mothers or couples would begin counseling at $25 to $50 per session. Sixty percent of those are expected to finish the program and qualify for a free license.

Even if the couple doesn’t marry, the grant application said, the parents will learn how to maintain relationships and work together for the good of their child.