Can government do more to promote marriage? Kansas thinks so. The Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services applied for a federal grant of $2.2 million per year for three years to provide programs that encourage unwed parents to marry with the goal of reducing child poverty. Each year, about 19,000 unwed couples give birth to a child in Kansas. Since children who grow up in single parent households are more likely to live in poverty, state officials believe increased rate of marriage among these couples would decrease child poverty.
The grant money would provide unwed parents six free counseling sessions. If at the conclusion of the program, the couple decides to marry, the federal grant would also cover the cost of a marriage license ($85.50). The state estimates 40% of unwed parents would participate in the program and 60% of the participants would finish the program. State officials believe that even if these couples do not marry, the program will at least teach necessary relationship skills which would improve relationship stability.
Kansas is not the only state looking for federal money to promote marriage. Currently, there are over 200 programs funded by an ACF Healthy Marriage grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The purpose of the HHS grant is to help couples “gain greater access to marriage education services, on a voluntary basis, where they can acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to form and sustain a healthy marriage.”