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A Look at Alabama Families
Urban Affairs & New Nontraditional Programs

 

Keeping Watch on Alabama Families
By Dr. Jannie Carter, Extension Assistant Director

The Urban Affairs and New Nontraditional Programs unit of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System has website resources to provide current and easily accessible information on the state of Alabama's families. With a network of specialists, the unit offers a comprehensive program to advance families in the twenty-first century through activities and services that address:

  • Key financial management and consumer education issues for youth, adults, and seniors
  • Parenting and family-strengthening approaches designed for nontraditional families, grandparents parenting grandchildren, and families in divorce transition
  • Family resiliency and conflict resolution programs for domestic violence prevention
  • People and pets engaged in an effort to aid some of the social, economic, and health problems that afflict families
  • Legal issues for families and consumers
  • Environmental and forestry issues as they affect the well being of individuals, families and communities

Programs and services offered through the network have provided positive impacts with proven results to help families adjust across the lifespan.


More on Alabama Families
The family continues to represent the most fundamental social group of our society. The family unit is a universal concept and reflects the basic need of all individuals; to be a part of a fundamental group. Once generally described as two parents and their children, the definition of family has grown to include a number of biological, social, and numerical descriptions. Families can be as diverse as single-parent households managed by teenage moms to widowed senior citizens residing in retirement communities.

So, when we speak of Alabama's families what image comes to mind? As we profile our families in an effort to assess and respond to basic needs and issues, what are the main characteristics that would capture the essence of family? Perhaps the one word that best describes Alabama families is "changing." As the population becomes more ethnically diverse, our aging population continues to increase, and teens continue to become parents, naturally our families become nontraditional.

Statistically, Alabama has over 1,200,000 family households with more than 250,000 headed by females. An estimated 186,000 of state households are 65 years and over. The median family income is approximately $42,000. Still, more than 26 percent of Alabama's children live in poverty.

Nationwide nearly one-half of all marriages end in divorce, and more than 40 percent of children across the nation are living without a father present in the household. Because of insufficient earnings, approximately 75 percent of mothers with children school age and older are likely to be working outside the home. Alabama is not that different from the national average. Social, economic, and legal problems, or other conflicts place some families at risk for meeting basic core needs and having the necessary skills to function in a changing environment. Strengthening families and communities in the twenty-first century means providing programs and services to help them deal with change and the resulting challenges.

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Last Updqated: 20 January 2004

 


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