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Programmes in the United States that promote marriage or fatherhood have received a new round of funding from the federal government — nearly $120 million, all up. The funding was begun by President George W Bush.

“A strong and stable family is the greatest advantage any child can have,” George Sheldon, HHS acting assistant secretary for children and families, said in a press release. “These grants support programs that promote responsible parenting, encourage healthy relationships and marriage, and help families move toward self-sufficiency and economic stability.”

Not everyone agrees that such programmes are effective. Here is one who does:

Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation who focuses on welfare and poverty, said he strongly supports the marriage initiative because in his view, the decline of marriage is the primary cause of child poverty. 

He noted that 70 percent of families living in poverty are led by single mothers and that the $60 million spent on those programs pale in comparison to the $350 billion that the federal government spends each year on various types of means-tested assistance to low-income families, such as Medicaid, food stamps and tax breaks.

“We’re not going to reduce the child poverty rate or that huge welfare expenditure unless we can bring married fathers back into the home,” he said.

But Rector called the fatherhood programs a “red herring” that is actually an “old-style jobs training program that doesn’t do anything.”

“You can’t be an effective father if you’re not in the home and you’re not going to stay in the home if you’re not married,” he said.

Let’s see what other pro-family ideas the Obama administration can come up with during the electionaeering season.

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet