Survey reviews state marriage program

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Oklahoma is home to one of the highest divorce rates, but is that number slowly on the downward slide?

A new study shows less couples are calling it quits, and one legislator said a state program is playing a role.

A legislative study was done recently to look at the progress made by the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative. The program cost taxpayers millions of dollars a year, and some question if it's making a difference.

“Oklahoma is struggling," Kendy Cox said. "Our marriages, our families, our children."

That's why Cox said the work done inside the classrooms at the OMI office is so important.

Classes are offered to many different groups free of charge with one goal - building stronger families.

“In some ways, it feels like we are fighting an uphill battle, but Oklahoma has made an investment in the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative as a sign that we don`t have to stand for the status quo," Cox said. "Our families can be healthy again."

OMI offers classes for couples, families, dads and on divorce.

It was created in 1999 by then governor Frank Keating in an effort to combat poverty in the state by reducing the divorce rate.

“We will not make significant gains in our war on poverty, unless we start addressing relationship poverty, in addition to financial deprivation,” Cox said.

New statistics show Oklahoma ranks 39th in child well-being, with 25 percent of children living in poverty and 36 percent of children raised in single parent families.

But, although the divorce rate is down, it's not as low as leaders had in mind.

“While the divorce rate has gone down, what has gone up is the percentage of currently divorced Oklahomans and citizens in the US, which indicates that fewer people, once they do divorce, are remarrying,” Cox said.

Oklahoma still ranks in the top five when it comes to divorce rates.

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