Promising solutions to child poverty and social breakdown are on the agenda in Atlanta tomorrow morning, when The Heritage Foundation joins Georgia Family Council for a symposium called “Breakthrough Georgia: Fighting Poverty and Restoring Society.”

Heritage Senior Research Fellow Robert Rector will present findings on the state of child poverty in Georgia and the profound role that marriage can play in decreasing the state’s poverty rate.As across the rest of the country, the marital status of a mom and dad in Georgia can have a tremendous impact on the probability that a child will experience poverty.

A child living in a single-parent family in Georgia is five times more likely to be poor than a child living in a household with married parents. Conversely, marriage drops the probability of child poverty by 84 percent.

The Atlanta event also will serve to launch Georgia Family Council’s “Breakthrough Georgia” project – a major, research-driven initiative to identify the best public policies for overcoming social breakdown and promoting human flourishing. The institutions of civil society – among them families, churches civic organizations — are considered instrumental in addressing social breakdown.

“Breakthrough Georgia,” GFC President Randy Hicks says, “seeks to craft a holistic approach to public policy that recognizes both the power and duty of these institutions and maximizes their ability to respond to need, with appropriate help from government when necessary.”

Restoring a culture of marriage and addressing social breakdown in Georgia will take the enthusiastic support of churches, civic groups and other non-profits. Jennifer Marshall, Heritage’s director of domestic policy studies, will moderate a panel that brings real-world experience in the public and private sectors in confronting the root causes of poverty and encouraging greater self-sufficiency and less dependence on government.

Panelists include Jerry Regier, chief operating officer of Calvin Edwards & Co. and former cabinet secretary to two governors; Tony Johns, director of community involvement at City of Refuge, a ministry addressing inner-city poverty; and Cheryl DeLuca Johnson, executive director of Street GRACE, a faith-based nonprofit combating human sex trafficking.

A “breakthrough” will take years, not weeks or months. Now, though, it’s time to encourage what could be GFC’s model efforts to weaken the grip of poverty and dependence by strengthening families.