Study Reveals Cost of Fragmented Families to Taxpayers

Siloam Springs, Ark. (April 16, 2008) — A groundbreaking research report released April 15 has quantified the actual cost to taxpayers that can be associated with family fragmentation. The study shows that taxpayers across the nation pay a minimum of $112 billion annually due to costs for anti-poverty, criminal justice and education programs and due to reduced taxes paid by individuals whose productivity has been negatively affected by familial instability. The study, which outlines the economic impact for each state, shows how divorce and other destabilizing factors in a family affect Arkansas taxpayers. “We can no longer say that what happens in my neighbor’s house is not my business and does not affect me or my family or my community,” said Gary J. Oliver, Ph.D., Executive Director of The Center for Relationship Enrichment at John Brown University. “When marriages and families suffer, our community suffers.” In Arkansas, the cost of family fragmentation passed on to taxpayers is $471 million, creating an 11.3% state and local tax burden. The $471 million includes $109 million in foregone tax revenue, $249 million to the justice system, $4 million for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, $86 million in Medicaid, and $16 million for Child Welfare. “It is easy for communities to focus on the symptoms of poverty, crime, poor health and poor education,” said Oliver. “But in order to really have an impact on these problems, we need to address the heart of the matter, and that is what is happening in today’s marriages and families.” Since its inception 10 years ago, The Center for Relationship Enrichment has encouraged individuals, local agencies, government, businesses, places of worship and schools to think proactively in order to build healthy marriages and strong families. The CRE recently finished the first year of a five-year, $2.7 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families, to support research and development of healthy marriages in Northwest Arkansas. Thanks to the grant, NWA Healthy Marriages has been established as a community service of the Center for Relationship Enrichment. The mission of NWA Healthy Marriages is to prepare unmarried couples for successful healthy marriages and to strengthen existing marriages. “It is imperative that we as a community come together to work to build strong marriages and families in our own homes, neighborhoods, places of worship and in the workplace,” said Greg Smalley, Psy.D., Program Director of NWA Healthy Marriages, an initiative of CRE. NWA Healthy Marriages will offer the “I Choose Us: Growing a Passionate Marriage” seminar Friday, April 18, 7-10 p.m. and Saturday, April 19, 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. The event will be held at John Q. Hammons Convention Center at the Embassy Suites, 3303 Pinnacle Hills Parkway, in Rogers. The workshop is free, but reservations are required. For more information or to register go to www.nwamarriages.com. In addition to its work in the community through NWA Healthy Marriages, CRE has developed initiatives to help colleges and universities assess students’ relational health and guide students in developing healthy relationships. “It is easier to tackle family fragmentation on the front end by encouraging university students and singles through information on how to form stable, long lasting relationships and to provide engaged and married couples with healthy relationship skills, said Smalley” The Center for Relationship Enrichment at John Brown University was founded in 1998. The Center’s mission is to educate, equip and enrich people in developing healthy relationships, marriages, and families through consulting, education, enrichment, resources, research and assessment. The CRE offers marriage preparation, marriage enrichment, and relationships skills services to all of Northwest Arkansas.