How unlucky can one get? Born to unmarried parents, where father abandons both mother and the newborn child, leaving them to fend for themselves. If you think these incidences are few and far between, you are mistaken.
Statistics of children born out of wedlock to unmarried parents is on the rise. Since the year 2000, approximately 33 percent of children were born to unmarried parents every year, this rate has jumped to 40 percent in recent years. More alarmingly, this percentage has not only remained stable but also shows an upward trend.
The plight of children born out of wedlock
Of all the children born out of wedlock, a majority of them have no choice but to exist in an unmarried family. Of this, only a small percentage end up living with both parents, who are cohabiting, remaining unmarried.
In a comparison of children born to married and unmarried parents, it was found that the latter were three times more likely to remain poor, than the former. This is because such children are brought up by single parents and have to subsist on a single income.
What’s more, the ability of such single parents to earn more is also diminished, since they are relatively less educated. Not only are they financially deprived, but without a consistent second parent, they also face some serious parenting challenges.
Financial support for children out of wedlock
There are no two opinions that the brunt of economic stress is faced by children born out of wedlock. Few, who are lucky, do get financial support from their absent parents, but others, especially those belonging to low income, unmarried single parents, don’t. Of course, this is primarily because of the financial problems faced by the absent parent but there can be other reasons too.
The good news is that such children are not left at the mercy of their destiny but has the support of the government. The federal government ensures that such children receive economic support from both parents through its Child Support Enforcement Program that was brought into force some four decades ago.
This program received a boost in 1996, as part of the welfare reform law and minced no words in conveying, “if you bring a child into the world, you must support them”. This certainly had a positive effect on the upkeep of such children, since there was an increase in the contribution of absent parents and also an increase in the resources of custodial parents, who raise their children as a single parent.
Problems faced in the absence of child support
In the absence of child support, the custodial parents get most affected. They not only fail to find suitable employment but also have to undertake child care and parenting without financial support from the absent second parent.
This is one of the biggest stress factors for the custodial parents that contribute to a child’s behavioral problems and other adverse outcomes.
Another adverse factor for the children in the absence of fathers, who abandon them. Research shows that more the contact between fathers and their children, more the quantum of child support payments. Not only this, the involvement of more families into the child support program, actually translates into improved relationships.
The effectiveness of Child Support Enforcement Program
Today, the Child Support Enforcement Program faces a dilemma. Although the effectiveness of the program has steadily improved, the number of beneficiaries, meaning eligible families, has actually declined. For example, in 2014 the percentage of eligible custodial parents that held a formal agreement for child support fell to 49 percent from 60 percent in 2004. What is more surprising is the percentage of custodial parents in the program was at an all-time high in 2014.
Research has found that children tend to perform better due to the twin effect of increased resources and increased income, resulting from the contribution of both the parents. Little wonder the improvement observed in child’s cognitive development along with the decline observed in his or her behavior problems are all linked to child support.
The need for financial support for children of parents who have weak job prospects begs attention, but this is not the only aspect of parenting. Click here to find out how you can benefit from Child Support Enforcement Program in case you are a custodial parent.