Family stability looked at in Winn. Co. statistics - – Rockford’s News Leader

Family stability looked at in Winn. Co. statistics

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More than half of Winnebago County's children are born into families relying on government assistance. That's just one statistic we checked out relating to household stability and its impact on children.  The county health department's most recent information comes from 2009 and 2010.

"We know that locally in Winnebago County approximately 59% of annual births are to Medicaid mothers." -says Winnebago County Health Department Family Health Services Director Lisa Gonzalez.

That adds up to about 2,400 children each year born to families needing government help. Another figure we looked into relates to household structure in Winnebago County.

"About half, 49% to be exact around 1,900 babies are born to unmarried mothers." -Gonzalez explains.

Included in that statistic, lifelong Rockford resident Dakota Owen, a single mom of two young children.

"Dad is around, dad does help out a lot. I am the only working parent in the home right now." -she says.

Dakota also receives government aid. The Rockford Housing Authority helps provide living assistance. But, they also helped her financially to go back to school and learn life skills through the RHA's ReBuild program. Dakota is now a Certified Nursing Assistant providing much-appreciated income.

As a single parent, Dakota says she can't go back and change the past, but she definitely has a different perspective now from the person she was before she became a mom.

"I love my kids to death. But, I wish I probably would've waited a little bit longer wish I would've been more stable, but you know life happens."

The health department says while single parents can provide stability with the right support services, a two-parent structure is ideal in a child's development. And there are long-term effects from an unhealthy environment.

"It can lead to behavioral problems it's showing that it can also lead to developmental issues as well as things like the ability to establish healthy relationships later on in life." -

Dakota says she's worked to get the right support services like ReBuild. Plus, there's help coming from home. Dakota's motivated for school, work and a better quality of life because of her kids.

"They see the challenges that I've been through so hopefully they don't have to go through what I've been through. I don't want them to have to struggle. I want them to have what they need in life."

For more information on area programs offered to single parents and low-income families click here for the RHA and here for Winnebago County Health Department. 

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