Listen on line: NPR: Fighting Poverty in America - 8/21/06
smartmarriages at lists101.his.com
Mon Aug 21 12:22:45 EDT 2006
- NPR: FIGHTING POVERTY IN AMERICA
Promoting Marriage to Reduce Poverty
NPR: Morning Edition
August 21, 2006
This edition features Joe Jones of Baltimore. Joe and colleagues presented a
two-day training at the Atlanta Smart Marriages Conference in his "Exploring
Relationships and Marriage With Fragile Families" program.
> Anthony Polk, Alfreda Stewart and their three children live in subsidized
> housing in East Baltimore. The couple has been together, off and on, for 17
> years. They say they learned a lot in the relationships class, but they're not
> sure they're ready for marriage.
Morning Edition, August 21, 2006 · A few months ago, in inner-city
Baltimore, a small group of graduates held a big celebration. These couples
completed a five-month class in how to be a couple -- how to build a life
together. None of them is married yet, but they all have children.
The lives of those children might dramatically improve if their parents get
married. That, at least, is what some experts believe.
After five months, the couples are done with sitting in a classroom,
learning what a healthy relationship feels like. They're graduating with
some new skills, and some old challenges.
These African-American couples took part in a sort of group therapy for
several hours, once a week. They've learned how to fight fair, tell your
partner what you need, and plan for the future.
A $1-million federal grant helped pay for the classes, which are run in
Baltimore by the Center for Fathers, Families and Workforce Development. The
federal government is funding programs like this across the country.
Research suggests that these couples -- and their children -- will be better
off financially if their parents are married. Among other reasons, married
couples pool their incomes and more frequently save for children's futures.
And, the research says, married men tend to spend less time -- and less of
the family's money -- outside the home.
But for Joe Jones, who runs the Baltimore center, the program isn't just
about promoting marriage. Whenever he gets the chance, Jones walks the
streets of East Baltimore to spread the word about a job-training program
that his center also offers.
Jones' work tries to weave all the pieces together -- jobs, relationships,
fathers and mothers, children. Right now, Jones can't say how prominently
marriage figures into the complex maze out of poverty. But in five years,
he'll have some data. Researchers will study the effect that counseling and
classes had on couples in Baltimore and across the country.
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