Martin O`Malley on Families & Children
O'MALLEY: [In Maryland] we actually passed a living wage. We raised the minimum wage. We were the only state in American that went four years in a row without a penny increase in college tuition. We invested more in our infrastructure and we squared our shoulders to the great business opportunity of this era and that is moving our economy to a 100 percent clean electric energy future. The conclusion of all of those things is this: they weren't hopes, they weren't dreams, they weren't amorphous goals out there. We actually took action to do these things and as president, I have put forward 15 strategic goals that will make wages go up again for all American families. Universal national service is an option for every kid in America to cut youth employment. And I'm the only candidate on this stage to put forward a new agenda for America's cities so we can employ more people in the heart of great American cities and get them back to work.
One example: In 2007, one of the goals we publicly set was to drive down our infant mortality rate by 10%, by the end of 2012. A lot of people told us at the time not to make the commitment public. You see, the old way of thinking says elected officials should never set measurable goals with deadlines, because you'll be criticized if you fall short.
We chose a different path. We set real goals with specific, and more immediate, deadlines. By the way, at the end of 2012, together we had driven down Maryland's infant mortality rate--not by just 10%--but by 215. That means 164 lives saved just in 2012.
Strengthen America’s Families
While the steady reduction in the number of two-parent families of the last 40 years has slowed, more than one-third of our children still live in one- or no-parent families. There is a high correlation between a childhood spent with inadequate parental support and an adulthood spent in poverty or in prison.
To strengthen families, we must redouble efforts to reduce out-of-wedlock pregnancies, make work pay, eliminate tax policies that inadvertently penalize marriage, and require absent fathers to pay child support while offering them new opportunities to find work. Because every child needs the attention of at least one caring and competent adult, we should create an “extended family” of adult volunteer mentors.
Family breakdown is not the only challenge we face. As two-worker families have become the norm, harried parents have less time to spend on their most important job: raising their children. Moreover, parents and schools often find themselves contending with sex- and violence-saturated messages coming from an all-pervasive mass entertainment media.
We should continue public efforts to give parents tools to balance work and family and shield their children from harmful outside influences. For example, we should encourage employers to adopt family-friendly policies and practices such as parental leave, flex-time, and telecommuting. Public officials should speak out about violence in our culture and should press the entertainment media to adopt self-policing codes aimed at protecting children.
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