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Coalition: Auditor’s ‘Fatherlessness’ Report ‘Irresponsible,’ Blames Individuals Over Systems

State Auditor Shad White recently released a report that detailed the costs associated with

“fatherlessness” in homes and communities across Mississippi. The report attempts to correlate issues like crime, teen pregnancies and unemployment with the influence of an individual father in a child’s life. 

In six pages, the state auditor tries to communicate that having “engaged” fathers in more children’s lives would not only create better individual outcomes for the children, but also save Mississippi taxpayers money. Unfortunately, the auditor’s report—regardless of his intent—is irresponsible and places blame on individuals rather than taking a hard look at systemic solutions that can help support Mississippi families and communities who face incredible daily challenges.

New data the Annie E. Casey Foundation released reflect that Mississippi ranks 48th overall among states in child outcomes, 49th in economic well-being and 50th in health. Currently, the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world with approximately 437 prisoners per 100,000 people as of 2019, data from the World Population Review show. In terms of incarceration rate per 100,000 people, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Mississippi have the highest rates—680, 639 and 636—respectively. 

Click on the image to view the full pdf. Courtesy Annie E. Casey Foundation

Currently, present and former Mississippi leaders are at the center of an investigation involving TANF funds going to millionaire athletes instead of families and individuals who desperately need support. On Aug. 15, 2022, Gov. Tate Reeves ended the Rental Assistance for Mississippi Program, or RAMP, that was helping many hardworking families across the state keep up with rent payments.

Is the “fatherlessness” issue the state auditor speaks of so specific to Mississippi that it would

cause the state to consistently rank at the bottom regarding child outcomes? 

Is this problem so specific to the state that it would cause Mississippi lawmakers to pass laws enabling the state to incarcerate more people per capita than any other place in the world? 

Did “fatherlessness” play a role in those at the center of the largest welfare scandal in Mississippi’s history?

State Leaders Should Highlight Immediate Solutions

The importance of leadership is

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