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U.S. News Archive
August 07 - August 13, 2001



This page contains news for the period August 07, 2001 through August 13, 2001.  

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Monday,August 13, 2001

More single seniors in some Northern California communities

A story published today by the Daily Review reports that while fewer senior citizens are living alone in Northern California’s Alameda County now than in 1990, more and more are opting to stay single in Fremont, Union City and Newark, according to Census 2000. Data released last week shows that in Alameda County 38,391 men and women over the age of 65 lived alone in 2000, down 3 percent from the 39,553 who lived alone in 1990.

In Fremont, however, the numbers have increased by 23 percent, from 2,252 in 1990 to 2,781 in 2000. In Union City, they have gone up even more, 29 percent, from 552 in 1990 to 713 in 2000. In Newark, they have increased by 11 percent, from 485 in 1990 to 540 in 2000.

The good news for single senior men: they are outnumbered 3-to-1 countywide -- and nearly 5-to-1 in Newark -- by single senior women.

Harold Delgado doesn't care. Although he frequents Union City's Ruggieri Senior Center -- where he likes "to give the ladies a hard time" -- he says he has no intention of remarrying.

"People are damn fools if they remarry," he says. "It's better if you live together, then you don't lose money. You get married and you don't get your ex-husband's Social Security anymore."

Sunday,August 12, 2001

Two-parent unmarried cohabitation rises due to welfare rules

A story published by the New York Times reports that five years after Congress overhauled welfare laws, with the intention of creating more two-parent families, the proportion of poor American children living in households with two adults is on the rise, two studies say.

The most significant change in family structure, the studies suggest, has occurred among low-income blacks. After a decade-long slide, the proportion of black children living with two married parents increased significantly from 1995 to 2000. An analysis of census figures shows a 4.1 percentage point jump, to 38.9 percent from 34.8 percent. A separate survey by the Urban Institute also found that single mothers are increasingly likely to live with unmarried partners. The increase in cohabitation has been sharpest among those who have felt the prod of welfare change, the Institute, a research organization based in Washington, said.

"These marriages and cohabiting households are all about survival," said Helen Gee, a supervisor at Community Advocates, the largest advocacy agency in Wisconsin for low- income families. "They are crisis- driven. Women need help with high rent, utilities, child care and transport. Their struggle is so great they think that two heads are better than one. Many women are leaving their kids at home all day with these guys they hardly know. We are seeing a lot of stressed-out clients."

Yet, in many of the two-adult households that have been cobbled together by necessity in Milwaukee and across the country in the wake of the welfare overhaul, a primary ingredient for child development — stability — often goes missing.

For poor children, growing up in a household with cohabiting — but unmarried — adults is probably not an improvement over growing up in a single-parent family, said Kristin Moore, a social psychologist and president of Child Trends, a nonpartisan research group based in Washington.

"Mostly they don't seem to be better off," said Dr. Moore, adding that more research needs to be done on the subject. "There is a lot of turbulence in those families and turbulence is really hard for kids."

Despite concern about the stability of two-parent households formed in the aftermath of welfare change, there is widespread agreement among welfare experts that something remarkable has been going on in poor urban communities, particularly in the last five years.

The confluence of positive trends includes falling rates of crime and drug abuse, the greatest decline in child poverty, particularly black child poverty, since the 1960's, and sharp increases in employment among mothers who head families, especially those who have never been married. In the last decade, there has also been a steady decline in the teenage birth rate, with the steepest decline among black teenagers.

There are, however, exceptions to the pattern. Early studies of families in three welfare-to-work programs, all of them precursors to the federal welfare overhaul, have found unexpected evidence that adolescents have more behavior problems and lower performance in school than children in other welfare households.

"In many ways welfare reform is working better than I thought it would," said Wendell Primus, who in 1996 resigned as deputy assistant secretary of health and human services to protest what he feared would be the severe impact of the welfare overhaul on children. "The sky isn't falling anymore. Whatever we have been doing over the last five years, we ought to keep going."

Echoing many welfare experts, Mr. Primus speculates that there is a complex cluster of possible reasons, including welfare change, behind the decline in single-parent families. They include a community-based fatherhood movement that insists that young men take responsibility for their children, as well as an aggressive effort to establish paternity and enforce child support.

But, like the social workers in Milwaukee, Mr. Primus said that the desperate need for cash among welfare-to-work mothers is also a key to understanding the trend toward two- parent households. The squeeze shows up clearly in census figures. While the poorest 40 percent of single mothers increased their yearly earnings by $2,300 from 1995 to 2000, their disposable income increased just $292, mostly because of lost welfare benefits and food stamps.

More single fathers are raising their kids alone

A story published today by the Salt Lake Tribune reports that more and more men, both in Utah and nationally, are becoming single fathers, according to Census 2000 numbers. In 1990, 7,370 Utah men were raising children on their own; in 2000, the number had grown to 13,674, an increase of some 86 percent.

That's higher than the increase in Utah's single mothers, at 21 percent, and the number of single fathers in the United States, which rose by 62 percent.

"In years past, the law was that there was a presumption that the mother should be the custodial parent," said 3rd District Judge Timothy Hanson, who handles some divorce and custody cases.

Since then, he said, statutes have changed. But Hanson believes the increase in single fathers stems from more than laws alone: "It's a recognition that fathers can be equally as good caregivers as a mother, all things being equal."

A "fuzziness" in societal roles has also played a part in the increase of single fathers, Hanson said. "More fathers now, because the roles are changing, are more interested in being custodial parents." For instance, women rarely worked outside the home 25 years ago, and men traditionally were in the role of family breadwinner.

"That doesn't happen anymore," Hanson said. "Usually, both parents are working, and both parents are trying to supply the custodial needs of the children. Society's and people's perception of the roles of parents is changing. You'll see a lot more sharing of parental responsibility, joint legal and physical custody."

Washington state single-parent homes on the rise

A story published today by the Seattle Times reports that single parenthood, despite its trials and tribulation, is increasing in Washington state. According to the recent U.S. census report, 22.2 percent of all children in the state live in single-parent households, up from 19.6 percent in 1990. Nationwide, an estimated 27 percent of all children live in single-parent households.

Rates in Washington are highest among African Americans, with 45.4 percent of children under 18 in single-parent households, a jump from 42.3 percent in 1990. Rates for whites also increased, from 17.8 percent in 1990 to 20.2 percent in 2000.

Rates for Native American children increased slightly, to 36.9 percent, while percentages decreased less than 1 percent for both Hispanics, now 24.7 percent, and Asian/Pacific Islanders, now 15.5 percent, the census found.

As more children live with one parent, the state must step in and help single parents learn to cope and create a healthy home life, children's advocates say.

Retreat from marriage is a trend extending back several decades, says Robert Plotnick, a professor in the University of Washington's Evans School of Public Affairs. One contributing factor is the improving earning power of women, which comes at the same time poorly educated men find it increasingly difficult to escape poverty.

"Marriage is a different bargain for a woman when she has more economic clout," Plotnick says.

The census numbers, for example, may reflect a greater willingness of single mothers to raise children alone.

The census, however, does not take into account that in some households headed by a single mother, a live-in boyfriend provides both financial and emotional support to her children.

And unmarried couples who live together now account for more than 40 percent of nonmarital births nationwide, Plotnick says. "Cohabitation makes these census statistics a lot more grayer," he says.

But the correlation between single-mother families and poverty is irrefutable.

In 1998, 29.9 percent of U.S. families headed by a single mother were in poverty, compared with 5.3 percent of families headed by a married couple, Plotnick says.

And in Washington, census numbers show black youth in single-parent families are more than six times as likely to be in a household headed by a mother as opposed to a father. The statewide ratio for all races combined is 3-to-1.

Friday, August 10, 2001

Young single male drivers penalized 25% by 'low-cost' insurance program in California

A story published today by the Daily Californian reports that the Greenlining Institute, a San Francisco-based advocacy group that works with minorities and the disadvantaged has said that a California program which was enacted in July 2000 designed to help low-income Californians in the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas to buy affordable automobile insurance unfairly excludes many college students from obtaining the same low-cost automobile insurance.

Nidhi Geevarghese, a legal intern for the institute blew the whistle on the program after she was researching the policy this summer.

"This policy was created to help the working class and poor people in general, but it has many, many flaws," said Geevarghese. "It has ended up discriminating against thousands of college students with good driving records."

The group also accused the program of discriminating against unmarried males ages 19 to 24 because it charges the demographic group an extra 25 percent in addition to the base rate, regardless of driving records.

The pilot program, California's Low Cost Automobile Insurance Program, requires insurance companies to offer cheaper policies to low-income drivers who qualify for the program. According to state's Department of Insurance Web site, the program is intended to provide cheap automobile insurance to good drivers who demonstrate financial need.

Other eligibility restrictions require that the applicant must not have a total annual household income exceeding 150 percent of the federal poverty level, must have a privately owned vehicle with a value less than $12,000 and must be 19 years or older.

State Senators Martha Escutia, D-Montebello, and Jackie Speier, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, who authored the original bill, said the original proposal was to provide affordable insurance to drivers who would normally not be able to buy it. The bill was signed into law in 1999.

"It is a win-win situation for everyone," Escutia said in a statement.

But officials at Greenlining say they intend to lobby for a new law that helps out needy college students.

Born-again Christians divorce rate mirrors nation’s divorce trend

A story published today by the Chicago Sun-Times reports that according to a survey conducted by the Barna Research Group, a leading pollster of American religious trends, fewer born-again Christians in the United States shack up before marriage, but just as many still end up getting divorced as those who do not describe themselves as born-again Christians.

Of the 7,000 adults surveyed by the group, only 25 percent of born-again Christians said they had lived together before marriage, compared with 33 percent of the general population.

Thirty-six percent of Roman Catholics and 30 percent of Protestants said they had cohabited before marriage. At 51 percent, atheists were the most likely to live together unmarried, followed by 42 percent of adults who are affiliated with a faith tradition other than Christian, the Barna survey showed.

The same survey also revealed that 33 percent of all born-again adults who have been married have gone through a divorce--nearly identical statistics to incidence of divorce among non-born-agains.

"It is unfortunate that so many people, regardless of their faith, experience a divorce, but [it is] especially unsettling to find that the faith commitment of so many born-again individuals has not enabled them to strengthen and save their marriages," said George Barna, president of the research company.

Thursday, August 9, 2001

Deadbeat dads: A national controversy

A story released today by Saloon.com reports that the national controversy over "deadbeat dads" intensified last month when the Wisconsin Supreme Court ordered a man who fathered nine children by four different women to stop having kids until he started supporting them properly. The Wisconsin ruling illustrates the conundrum of punishing those who can't or won't face up to the role of being a responsible father. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, one-third of American children are born to an unwed mother.

Low-income fathers are often singled out for being particularly neglectful. But according to Ronald Mincy, a Columbia University professor of social work, we know very little about how low-income, unmarried fathers behave or what they think about fatherhood. Mincy works with a team of researchers at Columbia's Social Indicators Survey Center who, in partnership with the Bendheim-Thoman Center for Research on Child Wellbeing at Princeton University, are conducting one of the first national studies on fatherlessness. Their Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Survey follows the unmarried parents of 3,600 children -- a representative sample of white, black and Latino couples from 20 U.S. metropolitan areas -- from birth until age 4.

"So far, the data does not indicate that during the first three years of the child's life, most low-income fathers are irresponsible," Mincy said. "Fathers are helping during the pregnancy, making financial contributions and visiting the child. But over time these informal contributions wane as the relationship between the couple deteriorates. The father becomes discouraged and the mother gets annoyed. The father's inability to make financial contributions seems part of that deterioration. Static will be introduced in the relationship that will serve to bar fathers from seeing their kids."

Statistics also affirm that the majority of black children are fatherless. About 70 percent of all African-American births are out of wedlock and over 85 percent of African-American children will spend some years of their childhood without a father in the home.

Speed dating for singles

A story released today by the Business Wire reports that throughout the Chicago area, single young professionals are abandoning the typical bar scene in favor of something a little more structured and a lot more fun. It's called 3 Minute Dating, Inc. and it's part of a dating trend that's sweeping the nation.

Based on a concept developed by a California singles club, 3 Minute Dating allows singles to size each other up quickly - in three minutes - before deciding whether they would like to meet for an actual date.

Singles sit down and talk one-on-one in three-minute intervals. When the three minutes are up, each writes "yes" or "no" next to the other's name on a card. If both write "yes," they receive each other's e-mail addresses a short time later. Every three minutes, everyone switches partners - so by the end of the night, each single has met up to 33 potential dates.

"We started 3 Minute Dating after deciding there had to be a better way to meet people than through traditional dating methods," said co-founder Warwick Greville. "We wanted something fun, simple, party like, and very cost effective. Our goal is roughly $1 a date. You can't beat that."

The company plans themed events throughout the year, including holiday parties, and plans on holding events for single parents, over-40 singles, and other special groups in the future.

"This is a great way to select what you like to see, hear, and feel, for a future 'full' date or social gathering," said Greville. "We encourage people to get on each other's social lists, to meet out, and to spend more time with each other after attending our events."

Wednesday, August 8, 2001

Assemblies of God passes resolution on divorce

A story released today by the Associated Press reports that the Assemblies of God church has passed a resolution Wednesday that will allow some divorced clergy candidates to be ordained.

The church's general council, composed of delegates and pastors, passed the resolution by secret ballot on a vote of 998 to 834. The resolution, however, only applies to candidates who divorced before they converted.

In 1991 and 1997, the Assemblies of God -- among the largest Pentecostal denominations -- defeated resolutions similar to the one that passed Wednesday.

Some who supported the resolution say the church has been missing out on qualified leaders because of its divorce restrictions. Others say they supported the restrictions because standards must remain high for church leaders.

Mel Surface, a voting member of the general council, said the church's standards remain high. He said the resolution doesn't change the church's opposition to divorce or its concern about the state of marriage and family.

``What it does is take into consideration whether a person experienced divorce and remarriage before becoming a Christian,'' he said. ``And it empowers our executive presbytery to consider applicants on an individual basis as to whether or not the divorce and remarriage did occur before conversion to Christ.''

The Assemblies of God was founded in 1914 and has 2.5 million members in the United States and about 35 million worldwide.

Tuesday, August 7, 2001

A survey on single parents and traveling

An article published today by Budget Travel reports that the lack of reasonably priced travel options for single parents is no secret. Brenda Elwell, a travel writer who publishes a monthly newsletter for single parents on her Web site (www.singleparenttravel.net) is aiming to change the tour operators neglect on single parents traveling with their children.

As part of her research for a book she is writing which focuses on single parents and traveling, she is compiling a survey. Participants need not necessarily be single parents. As long as you are an adult who has gone on vacation as a lone adult with children, you can take part in the survey. So single grandparents, married people who travel with children but without a spouse, or solo adults who travel with children are welcomed.

If you'd like to help out by answering the survey simply click here.

Rising number of single Mexican mothers in New York City

A story published today by the Christian Science Monitor reports that in several major US cities, including San Antonio and Los Angeles, Mexicans in New York are the fastest-growing immigrant group, and, by at least one estimate, 60 percent of that population is female.

The Mexican community in New York City has increased by 180 percent in the past decade - from 93,000 in the 1990 census to 261,000 in 2000, says Jeffrey Passel, the principal research associate at The Urban Institute in Washington. According to Emily Rosenbaum, a sociology professor at Fordham University , 70 percent of Mexicans who rent apartments in the city live in cramped conditions, compared with about 40 percent of other immigrant groups.

While single men crowd together in almost any space, mothers need places where children can sleep at night and do homework during the day. With many relatives' homes already filled to capacity, these women move in with other families or strangers.

Ms. Rosenbaum says about 20 percent of Mexican households include nonrelatives. This is particularly true for women. "There are more single women than their support network can support," says Robert Smith, a sociology professor at Barnard College, who has been studying Mexican immigrants in New York City since the 1980s.

For example, Maria Ranchero, who lives in Brooklyn, wants to live alone with her two children. But after more than a decade in New York, that dream remains unfulfilled. She earns $8 an hour at a clothing factory, but the hours are unsteady. As a result, she can't afford to support her two children and pay the rent. She had rented her back room for $200 of the $535 she pays in monthly rent to a coworker, but the woman did not treat her children well, she says, and she asked her to leave.

Ms. Ranchero was looking for another female roommate last fall, but then her sister's brother-in-law needed a room. "I was scared to live with a man," she says. For the nine months they lived together, she never once left her children there alone, she says, even if she was running across the street for some milk. He left two months ago. And while she says her comfort has been restored, she can't continue for long with the room vacant.

For most of the single mothers, it is the transience of their lifestyles that they find hardest.

Still, many are sure they're doing the right thing. "Women no longer have faith that things will get better in Mexico," says Smith. "They see the US as their long-term solution."


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