Target population is single parents and low-income parents in Sacramento County and Northern California. The goals are to emphasize the benefits that could be derived from raising children in two -parents households compared to a single parent home. The Sacramento is the 6th largest city in California and 35th largest city in the United States with the estimated population of 477,892 in 2011. (The Healthy Marriage Project. 2011). Before 2005, the number of single parents and divorce trends in the Sacramento exceed the national average. Major factors leading to the issues include poverty, and drug abuse. Other risk factors include out-of-wedlock births, which are increasingly high among African-American (65%) and Hispanic (54%). The Relationship Skill Centers aims to deliver quality of life to undeserved population in the community. The Relationship Skill Centers serves the Sacramento city, which is the capital city of the state of California. The Relationship Skills Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to promote a sustainable development to enhance stable and safe families. The organization is created to foster socially, economically and emotionally healthy relationships through training, relationship skills and educational programs.
Established in 2005, the Relationship Skills Centers assists couples, single parents and families to build strong and stable family relationships. The organization provides training for people on the strategy to make romantic lives; the organization also supports couples to develop healthy families. Over the past 8 years, the organization serves the low-income population as well as unmarried couples expecting babies or already had infants. (Relationship Skills Center, 2014 ).
In the United States, divorce rates are reaching astonishing rates of average of 50%. According to Center for Control and Disease Prevention (2012), marriage rate in the country is 6.8 per 1000 population while divorce rate is 3.6 per 1000 making the divorce rates in the country to be more than 50%. However, the divorce rates are startlingly high in the Northern California reaching startling rates of 89%. In Sacramento County in California, 12% of the population is divorced compared to the national average of 9.5%. Similarly, in 2000, 12% of the Sacramento population was divorced compared to 9.5% of divorce rate in the California. In the Sacramento County, the number of children living in single parent households exceeds national average, and the risk factors are poverty, neglect and exposure to abuse. In the state of California, 75% of the marriages end up in divorce making 3 out 4 marriages to end up in divorce. However, the divorce rates are skyrocketing among Jewish, Muslims and Christian couples. Senior citizens after decades of marriage end up in a divorce. Couples who have already built successful businesses together are ending up in divorce.
Thus, lack of family stability generally means that there would be no proper learning and growth for children, which could consequently lead to a decline in an economy performance because of a decline in manpower to contribute to the economic growth. Essentially, divorce is costly because it reduces standard of living and accumulation of wealth of divorced couple. The general loss includes lawyer fees, court costs, and costs of moving to new residence. One of the spouses or both spouses will require to incur costs of purchasing new furniture, dividing marital properties as well as loss of economic of scale among spouse. Women's standard of living generally decline following the divorce. Standard of living of some men also decline after divorce. (Amato, & Beattle, 2010).
Generally, divorce leads to an increase in stressful events which include poverty, health and psychological problems in parents. Lower level of mental and physical rates among men and women has been associated with divorce. Comparatively, divorced individuals exhibit health symptoms such as anxiety, depression, more substance use, more health problems and a greater risk of mortality compared to non-divorced married couple. (Liu, & Umberson, 2008).
Negative Consequences of Divorce to Children
Hansen (2013) provides 9 permanent negative consequences of divorce on children and the consequences include:
Low health conditions,
Susceptible to sickness
Propensity to crime
Likelihood to drop out of school,
Poor mathematics and social skills.
Having a greater chance of getting divorce during marriage life.
Substantial drug abuse,
Higher risks of getting strokes,
Social maladjustment and the like.
Generally, children of divorce parents score lower in behavioral, emotional, health, social, and academic outcomes compared to children of non-divorced parents. (Paul, 2010). (Waite, Luo, Y., & Lewin, 2009).
The consequences could be severe and permanent if adequate program is not implemented to mitigate the problems. To address the problem, the Relationship Skills Center has implemented series of programs to assist people working effectively with their relationships. The goal is to prevent divorce and its negative effects on young children. Specific interventions are very critical to strengthening the relationships among couples. The paper identifies previous and current efforts to address the problems.
Previous or Current attempts/efforts to address the Issue / Problem
Several organizations have attempted to address the problems that face the Sacramento community. President Bill Clinton signed an historical bill into law in order to reform welfare system across the United States. Under the law, states are allowed to use a portion of federal TANT (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) surplus accumulated under the formula grant to improve the welfare systems in their respective states. The goal is to strengthen marriage as well as reducing divorce rates among the poor.
Marriage Savers is another program aimed to address the problem. Marriage Savers was established in 1986 in California to reduce divorce rates, and the program was designed to help married and unmarried couples to understand one another in order to reduce divorce rates in California especially in Sacramento County. Under the Marriage Savers program, civic leaders, congregations, and clergymen signed the Community Marriage Covenants to reduce the divorce rates in the Sacramento, and California. The implementation of the program is able to address divorce problem in California. For example, the divorce rates have declined to 47.6% in California since 1986, when ninety-five pastors signed the "America's first Community Marriage Policy." (Center for Control and Disease Prevention, 2012 P.2),
The federal government also signed Welfare Reform Act to reduce out-of-wedlock birth as well to strengthening marriages in all states in the United States. The purpose of the legislation is to:
Assists to couples and needy families so that parents will be able to care for their children in their own homes;
promote jobs and work to end or reduce dependency of parents on government's benefits;
Reduce and prevent out-of-wedlock pregnancies and establishing numerical goals to encourage maintenance and formation of two-parent families.
Other organizations in the Sacramento County aimed to address the problems are:
Calvary Christian Center;
Capital Christian Center;
Family Christian Center;
Sunrise Baptist Church;
First Covenant Church, and Capital Christian Center.
Despite the effort of many organizations and governments to address the problem, the U.S. economic crisis between 2008 and 2009 makes many couples and families experience additional pressures with inability to provide basic needs for their families. The compelling data on the risk factors on married couples in Sacramento County compared to national trends show that 15% of children and babies live in poverty. Moreover, children face the higher risks because increasing numbers are growing up in fatherless home. The risk factors for children growing up in fatherless households are:
Many people who come from fatherless home are 10 times more likely to be extremely poor;
More than 71% of high school dropout come from fatherless home;
Over 85% of children exhibiting disorders are from fatherless households;
70% of children in juvenile state operated institutions are from fatherless households.
90% of all runaway and homeless children are from fatherless home. (The Healthy Marriage Project, 2011).
Despite the overwhelming risk factors of broken home at Sacramento in California, no non-governmental organization with adequate resources has taken steps to implement programs to reduce the problems. The issue has created a gap between the problem and solutions to the problems.
To ameliorate the problem, the Relationship Skills Center creates several programs and part of the programs is the FFP (Flourishing Families Program) created to provide valuable skills and resources for families and couples to deliver quality services to underserved populations. Within 5 years of establishing FPP, 1,683 individual within Sacramento enrolled for the program, and 87% of the people who enrolled complete the program. In the FPP grogram, 735 couples completed the program. The demographic characteristics of participants who completed the programs are as follows:
47% were between 19 and 25 years of age;
33% were between 26 and 35 years of age
36% were Latino;
26% were African-American;
17% were Caucasian,
17% were Spanish speaker and 26% were non-English-speakers, and 9% speak other languages.
1,060 children also enrolled for the program whom more than half of (55%) were living with another parents.
By building positive response from mainstream of population, the federal government provided funding for the Relationship Skills Center to expand the program in order to reach target couples in the community. The effort…