Group wants Legislature to study family issues


The Associated Press

The Florida Family Policy Council released a report Tuesday that details the declining rate of two-parent homes while calling for the Legislature to study how government can help keep families intact.

Council President John Stemberger said he wants legislative leaders to approach the issue from an economic point of view, saying that the deterioration of families has a large cost to the state.

"These cultural and social issues have an economic impact," Stemberger said, estimating that the cost to Florida is about $1.9 billion annually.

The report looked at divorce rates, children affected by divorce and the rise in single parent families. It said births to unwed mothers in Florida have increased from 9.5 percent in 1960 to 48 percent in 2012. Likewise, single-parent families make up 36 percent of the state's families compared to 10 percent in 1960.

The report also looks at statistics on education, crime, spending on social welfare programs, poverty and housing.

"It's our conviction that the strength of families are directly related to the numbers in this report," said Stemberger. "We're calling upon government, both local but particularly state, to have a conversation about what we can do to strengthen families. Obviously the government is limited in what it can do, but there are things that it can do."

He hopes legislative leaders will appoint a commission to look at the issue and call a summit to discuss it.

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