Families Matter - Improving Families in Memphis

Healthy marriages lead to healthy families, and healthy families are the foundation of a healthy, vibrant community. But, many families in Memphis face stressors such as poverty, unemployment and single parenthood. These can have negative impacts on the well being of a family, and stable relationships. Unstable adult relationships can have lasting impacts on the early cognitive development of young children. Families Matter exists to establish a united, sustained communitywide effort to strengthen and restore marriages and families in Memphis and Shelby County.

Families Matter is a resource center established by the Christ Community Health Center that provides tools to aid every member of the family. The Families Matter program aims to create a culture in Shelby County that supports healthy marriages and families. Educational offerings include workshops for couples, single parents and youth and parenting boot camp for new dads. They also connect individuals and couples to counseling services around the area, when one-on-one attention is needed in the family. Families Matter provides an active program of family education and advocacy by collaborating with a broad cross-section of community organizations, groups and individuals, including churches and schools that leads to changes which increase the opportunity to become more productive, enriched citizens.

This is especially important for our community, where births to unmarried moms continue to increase. As a group, children of single moms do not fare as well as other children. Being born to an unmarried mom remains an important risk factor for children's health and optimal cognitive development. Starting from conception, kids of single parents face more health risks than other babies. Research shows that they are also more likely to have academic, emotional and behavior problems.

The Take-Away

In Tennessee, consistent with national trends, infants born to unmarried mothers have an IMR that is twice that of infants born to married moms. Since 2002, the percentage of births to unmarried moms has increased in Shelby County (22%) and across the state (14%). The Families Matter program supports the development of healthy families, and helps to foster healthy early brain development which is dependent on stable parental relationships. They are trying to improve our community by strengthening family relationships, and in turn, enriching our youngest citizens. To contact Families Matter, please call 901-260-8520 or visit http://www.familiesmattermemphis.org.