November 20, 2001
county experiencing a upsurge of unwed moms
A story published today by the Sacramento Bee reports that according to the figures
recently released from the 2000 Census, about 8.5 percent of single women in Stanislaus
County, California had babies within a year of Census 2000, compared with 3.8 percent
In Stanislaus County, 97 of every 1,000 women age 15 to 19 had babies during the same
period. Nationwide, 41 in every 1,000 women in that age group gave birth during that time.
About 14 percent of Stanislaus County residents have less than a ninth-grade education.
About 38 percent of children younger than 5 in Stanislaus County live in poverty.
Counselors and others who work with unmarried moms aren't sure why Stanislaus County's
numbers are so high.
But the experts agree on one thing: there is a connection between getting pregnant,
being single and living in poverty.
And getting pregnant without getting married can make it difficult for women to finish
high school or college. This leads to low-paying jobs, which in turn make it hard to pay
for housing, child care and unexpected extras.
"The money, it's just not enough," said Susan Melnick, director of single
women's ministries at Big Valley Grace Community Church in Modesto. "If you can't go
back to school, you enter a vicious cycle."
Sasha Long, program coordinator for the Parent Resource Center, says there is aid
available for college and child care, but it's not easy for women to apply if they don't
know the social service system.
"If you pick up the phone book, you wouldn't know where to begin," Long said.
Welfare officials Stanislaus County say the number of unmarried women with children
they see has declined in recent years, thanks to welfare reform. For example, as part of
the reform, workers ask mothers if they would like counseling to work on their
relationships with the babies' fathers. Two-parent households are more likely to be
Health Services Agency officials report a decline in pregnancy among young teens during
the past few years. The rates reported by the census may stem from 18- and 19-year-olds
having children, they say.
Some counselors say Stanislaus County needs a group home for unmarried women who can't
make ends meet. Others say getting more young women involved in after-school activities
would make a difference.
Sunday, November 18, 2001
Single women jumping into
A story published today by the Seattle Times report that according to a survey done by
the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that single women are becoming homeowners
at a remarkably greater rate than men.
In profiling first-time homebuyers, the association found:
Nationally, women outnumbered men almost 2-to-1. Indeed while married
couples comprise the largest percentage of first-timers, single women are second with 22
percent of purchases compared with 12 percent for men. Unmarried couples
account for 9 percent of purchases.
Previously owned single-family homes were "the overwhelming choice
for single homebuyers," the report found. Some 74 percent of single male buyers made
such purchases, while 66 percent of single female buyers also purchased preowned houses.
Although these numbers show that women are less likely to purchase a house, the women's
percentage is still large enough that it "contradicts the conventional wisdom that
single female homebuyers prefer condominiums or townhouses," the study found.
In profiling all single homebuyers, including those who'd owned homes before, the NAR
also learned that:
The typical female buyer is 41 years old, the male buyer is 36.
Some 27 percent of the women had kids under 18, compared with 13 percent
of the men.
Single women and married homebuyers are more likely to choose the suburbs
than are single men.
Seattle currently ranks fourth in the nation for the number of singles living in
owner-occupied housing. That's among cities with populations of 500,000 or more, according
to the 2000 Federal Census. (Denver is at the top of the list.)
And their impact on the local housing market is growing steadily. In 1993, singles
accounted for 24 percent of the loans taken out in the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett area.
By last year that was up to 36 percent, according to government home-loan statistics.
Because of the way these numbers are compiled, it's not possible to do an accurate gender
The fact that single women are purchasing at a greater rate than men "is a trend
that was building in the 1990s," says Kevin Roth, the NAR senior economist who
conducted the two surveys.
"I can't tell you we know exactly what's going on," he says. But he and
others have some theories.
Laverne McIntyre, an agent with Coldwell Banker Del Bianco in Burien, thinks
"those women who do buy are more frugal with their money. They're savers. Males under
35 have a tendency to play more."
As Roth notes, many women expect to have careers and get the education to make that
possible. As a result, "single female professionals have made advancements. Their
income is rising so they're able to make a home purchase. That may not have been true in
Roth also attributes the rise in single ownership to the later age of first marriage. A
slightly higher percentage of men live with their parents or friends before buying a home,
and this may affect their decision to buy, too.
Ron Throupe likewise thinks later marriage is an important point. He's associate
director of the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington's
College of Architecture and Urban Planning.
"Part of it is more psychological," Throupe says. "As people get married
later and later, it becomes more likely they'll buy a house before they get married. They
decide they don't know if they'll ever get married, and they decide they want a home of
The NAR studies also point to another reason: the need for less space as the children
of a single parent leave home. Indeed, more single women than men report buying a smaller
home for that reason or as a result of divorce.
In Seattle, RE/MAX Northwest associate broker Brian Lavery is seeing singles snap up
"It's very difficult for one person to purchase a house when in-city prices are at
least $350,000" for such neighborhoods as Wallingford, Ballard and Maple Leaf, he
says. Conversely, "the condo market downtown has really slowed down in the last few
months, and prices have come down."
As a result, "you can pick up a one-bedroom condo in Belltown in the $170,000
range, which six months ago you wouldn't have been able to touch. That's really a big
advantage for singles."
Whether singles are buying for investment or to "nest," because they want
more space or a place of their own, local real-estate agents think they will continue to
buy. The lowest interest rates in decades make homeownership too good a deal to pass up,
Non-profit agencies need to
focus on single dads too
A story published today by the Herald Tribune reports that there hasn't been a worse
time in at least a decade to be homeless. Donations to charities are down, because the
economy has been dragging for months and because Sept. 11 relief efforts have taken
priority over local causes.
Single fathers have an especially hard time because most agencies aren't equipped to
The Salvation Army, the only local agency in Sarasota, Florida that provides emergency
shelter for families, has no rooms where fathers can stay with their children.
Fathers must stay in the single men's dorm, and their children can stay at the YMCA
Youth Shelter, which serves homeless kids and runaways.
For Bruce Meeks and his two daughters, the collapse into homelessness began with a fire
that raged through the home his family had just rented, destroying furniture, clothes and
the girls' music boxes.
"There's plenty of single dads out there who basically get the door slammed in
their faces," Meeks said. "I was just looking for help and support from someone,
but it's been ridiculous."
"We have been getting more calls from people needing help, and what we've been
getting less of is donations," said Terry Stottlemyer, a board member with Mothers
Helping Mothers, an agency that helps provide shelter, clothing and furniture to families.
Mothers Helping Mothers paid the bill for a few nights at the Sarasota Best Western for
the Meeks. The American Red Cross did, too.
The girls' schools, Fruitville Elementary and Sarasota Middle, have given the family
clothing and food. The parents of one of Tiffany's friends loaned the family a condominium
for more than a week. And, the Red Cross arranged for a doctor's office to adopt the
family for Christmas.
But no organization has been able to provide the long-term help that would get Meeks
what he needs most -- a new home.
"Sarasota does a whole lot for needy people, but there are some huge gaps,"
Meeks moved to Sarasota from Lehigh Acres eight weeks ago to end a 98-mile, one-way
commute to his job installing power lines with Asplundh Construction. He's now closer to
work, but farther from his parents, who live in Lehigh Acres and help him look after the
"I ain't never had a problem like this," he said. "People need to start
recognizing that there are more single dads out there today, and they need help just like
focus on promoting marriage
A story published today by the Chicago Tribune
reports that five years after the United States overhauled its welfare system, the top
priority of placing recipients in jobs has happened. However, experts worry the
accelerated economic downturn after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks could set back a
national achievement that has seen welfare rolls slashed by half since 1996.
Despite the potential snags ahead, Bush administration officials in recent months have
began focusing on what they view as the next phase of welfare reform: promoting marriage
as another way to reverse the patterns of poverty and dependence on government.
Oklahoma, more than any other state, has pioneered the movement with a program that
takes a multifaceted approach. It includes lectures and training for state welfare workers
and public health nurses to help their clients get counseling on relationships, pairing of
married couples as mentors to younger couples, and religious leaders urging premarriage
Gov. Frank Keating has pledged an unprecedented $10 million in federal welfare funds to
this "Marriage Initiative" aimed at encouraging marriage, reducing
out-of-wedlock births and cutting the state's divorce rate by one-third by 2010.
The pro-marriage concept has raised concern nationally, with critics wondering whether
a government-sponsored marriage movement will discriminate against non-traditional
relationships. They also fear that abused women may be urged to lock themselves into
dangerous relationships and, perhaps most of all, question whether government officials
and taxpayer dollars belong in decisions so personal.
But Bush's welfare chief, Wade F. Horn, said the notion "ought to be a pretty
uncontroversial idea" and was meant to be part of the 1996 welfare reform
legislation, even if it took a back seat to first putting people to work.
"This isn't about forcing people to get married," said Horn, assistant
secretary for children and families at the Department of Health and Human Services.
"It is not about withdrawing benefits to single mothers merely because they're not
married. It's not about keeping people in abusive situations. It's not about the
government running a dating service.
"This is about helping couples who choose marriage get access to what they need to
sustain a healthy marriage," said Horn, who until his appointment to HHS this year
ran an organization called the National Fatherhood Initiative.
Friday, November 16, 2001
North Carolinas Scotland
county experiencing an increase single parents
A story published today by the Laurinburg Exchange reports that according to birth
statistics released by the Center for Health Statistics, in North Carolinas Scotland
county, single-parent families are becoming the norm rather than the exception .
Data released by the center shows that of the 543 total births in Scotland County in
2000, 326 were to unwed mothers. Of those, 149 were to teens between the ages of 15 and 19
while 5 were to girls between the ages of 10 and 14.
"I dont know that this is just a Scotland County problem," said
Jan Elliott, director of social services in Scotland County. "Everything I see and
read indicates this is a national issue. Our culture is more accepting. For some, it is a
conscious decision. In Scotland County, there are probably a variety of factors. It has
been intergenerational in some families."
"My concern is that this increases the chances that a child will grow up in
poverty and be at greater risk than if they grow up in a two-parent home or where both
parents are involved in the childs life," she added.
Programs provided by social services to teen and unwed mothers are the same as those
offered to all other families that qualify, according to Elliott. The Work First program,
funded by TANF money, is one of the more popular methods of getting families on their
Children are also a big issue for Scotland County. According to the State Center for
Health Statistics, 38.9 percent of Scotland Countys teen mothers got pregnant a
second time, the states sixth highest rate. Between 1992 and 1996, 22.4 percent of
unwed mothers under 18 in the county had second pregnancies.
"We have one of the highest rates of second-pregnancy rates among teenagers,"
said Paige Commander of the Partnership for Children and Families.
Although the Partnership primarily deals with preparing children up to 5 years old for
school, its programming efforts have extended to parents. The Scotland County Secondary
Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program is one way the group is trying to help parents and
children while lowering the rate of second pregnancies among teens.
"Our hope is to prevent subsequent pregnancies through secondary prevention,"
Commander said. "This means working on their self-esteem, goal-setting, and parenting
skills. We want to make them the best parent for the child that they have and help them
postpone their second pregnancy to make it a planned event when they are financially
Website created by single mom
offers assistance to other single moms
A story published today by the Los Angeles Independent reports that according to the
2000 census, single parents are one of the fastest growing groups in the country.
In California alone, single-mother families number 834,716 -- up from fewer than half a
million a decade ago.
Nationwide, 27 percent of all children are raised in a single-parent household, with
the vast majority of those homes headed by women.
However, the statistics on poverty among single mothers is alarming. Only 67 percent of
the women heading households with children are able to work full time, and nearly 80
percent of American families living at or below the poverty line are headed by single
mothers. The statistics on problem behavior among children raised in single-parent
families are even more surprising.
Carmel Sullivan remembers most clearly about her first few months as a single mother
was an overwhelming sense of loneliness and fear about the future -- her own and her
"After my divorce," she says, "it was like a vacuum. I found it
incredibly hard to deal with the isolation."
But Sullivan, who divorced her son's father when the child was 2, didn't want to be a
statistic. Somewhere, she reasoned, there was a simple, affordable way to address the
financial and emotional burdens of single-motherhood that didn't involve remarrying.
Somehow, she thought, there had to be a way to make being a single mother work for
everyone involved -- both moms and kids.
It was while searching for a house that Sullivan had the brainstorm that would become
Co-Abode -- a web-based single mothers' roommate matching service, is Sullivan's
attempt to create that resource.
Single mothers log on to the site and create profiles by filling out a detailed
questionnaire on their lifestyles, parenting philosophies, habits and financial and
geographic situation. They can browse other profiles or be automatically
"matched" with another single mother looking for someone like them.
For example, Mary T., a single mother of a 4-year-old, is studying for her master's
degree in marriage and family therapy. She's looking for another mother who, like her,
speaks fluent French or Spanish, with whom she can share rent and child-rearing duties.
Audrey, a writer and a single mother of two young daughters, was a little trepidatious
about moving in with a relative stranger, but the quantity and quality of the information
provided on the Co-Abode site put her more at ease.
She discovered Natalie, also a writer and a single mother of a teenage son.
"We started e-mailing each other and eventually got together for lunch,"
Audrey says. Over lunch, both women discovered they had a lot in common. "One of the
things Natalie said in her profile was that she loves to come home to the smell of soup
cooking on the stove," Audrey recalls. "So do I."
And so, after several more meetings and hours and hours of conversation, the two
decided to give it a shot. They moved into their new apartment in Brentwood a few weeks
Audrey says it feels like the creation of a new family. And it's a little scary.
"Sure, it's going to be a challenge," she says. "But I feel like I know
more about Natalie than I ever knew about any man I dated. I asked her questions about
herself that I'd never asked anyone, and she answered them honestly."
Sullivan says Audrey and Natalie's decision to create a household together is exactly
what she had in mind when she founded Co-Abode. Practicalities like lowering living
expenses aside, the pay-offs for single mothers and their children who move in together
"We want to verbalize the loneliness, fear and frustration. Through sharing our
experiences we can educate each other on how to cope with a broken marriage, and how to
manage the challenge of caring for our children...alone," Sullivan says. "We can
'lighten our load' by helping each other out, pooling our resources and providing each
other with an understanding ear."
Sex education teachers in
Maryland county cant tell students to wait until marriage
A story released today by the Fox News reports that sex education teachers in
Marylands Frederick County cannot tell students to save it for marriage under a
newly approved curriculum change.
The school board voted 6-1 Wednesday to delete a marriage reference from the program's
discussion of sexual abstinence and add language advising that abstinence "is a
healthy, safe and responsible decision for adolescents."
Frederick County's sex education courses, taught in seventh, eighth and ninth grades,
stress abstinence as the best way of avoiding disease and preventing pregnancy.
Some board members favored more specific language advising students to delay sex until
they are "involved in a mature, monogamous and committed relationship."
The new language, which conforms with state health education guidelines, was crafted as
a compromise after three of the seven board members initially objected to retiring the
passage identifying abstinence as "appropriate behavior before marriage."
Wednesday, November 14, 2001
Texas county commissioners
struggle on the new definition of dependent
A story published today by the Denton-Record Chronicle reports that a new state
definition of the word "dependent" has made Texas Denton County
Commissioners Court concerned about the possibility of higher health insurance costs.
Commissioners declined Tuesday to adopt the wording of the new law until they find out
if the changes are mandatory for county governments.
Texas House Bill 1440 raises the age limit for health insurance eligibility of
unmarried dependent children from 25 years of age, and also adds grandchildren of
policyholders if they are claimed as dependents for federal income tax purposes.
Previously, the countys health insurance covered dependent children up to the age
of 19, and up to 23 if the child was unmarried and attending school.
The new law also removes the educational requirements for unmarried dependent children.
Although the legislature anticipated "no fiscal implication to units of local
government" or the state, according to the fiscal analysis of the bill, county
commissioners fear that it might increase health insurance costs for county workers.
Denton countys Assistant District Attorney Carmen Rivera-Worley and Human
Resource Director Amy Phillips both said their interpretation of the new law is that the
county must adopt the new eligibility rules, and County Judge Scott Armey agreed.
"I tend to agree that its not an option for us," Judge Armey said.
"The second section (of the law) says in which instances it applies, and we fall
No court members moved to adopt the new rules, forcing Judge Armey to make the motion
from the chair. Commissioner Jim Carter seconded the motion for discussion, but he later
withdrew it and the motion died.
The countys enrollment period for health insurance begins the week after
Thanksgiving, and Ms. Phillips said she needed direction because the enrollment booklets
need to be printed.
The court directed Ms. Phillips to have the books printed, saying that an addendum
would be added later after consultation with Jim Allison, the legal counsel for the Texas
Association of Counties.