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State Looks At Ways To Reduce Childhood Poverty, Including Relationship Training

A task force appointed by the governor has wrapped up a series of meetings looking for ways to reduce childhood poverty in Kansas. They discussed three so-called "pathways out of poverty," which include ways to improve education, get more Kansans working and strengthen families.

The committee was told that in 2011 around 19 percent of Kansas kids lived in poverty, and they’re hoping that focusing on some key areas can reduce that.

The education recommendations include things like incentivizing technical education programs that give students job skills. Some discussion also surrounded family, and specifically, lowering the number of children born out of wedlock. And that has stirred some controversy.

“This is probably the area I’ve had the most emails on, with the simple message that marriage is not the answer to poverty," says Dan Lord, a Friends University professor.

He says some of the recommendations, like healthy relationship training for young people, will benefit them in work and elsewhere, not just in a marriage.

“So I think healthy relationship education certainly shouldn’t be equated with a pro-marriage agenda,” he says.

The ideas from the task force will be compiled into a final set of recommendations forwarded to Gov. Sam Brownback.