Committee: House Health & Government Operations Committee
The Maryland Catholic Conference offers this testimony in SUPPORT of House Bill 1181. The Catholic Conference represents the public-policy interests of the three (arch)dioceses serving Maryland, the Archdioceses of Baltimore and Washington and the Diocese of Wilmington, which together encompass over one million Marylanders.
House Bill 1181 would promote a continuation of the Couples Advancing Together Pilot Program, enacted in 2013. The program seeks to enable couples to participate together in programs and services that help them maintain successful parenting strategies, economic literacy and stability, and healthy relationships. The program also seeks to encourage increased participation of fathers in determining eligibility of parents for public assistance benefits. Lastly, the program enables couples to foster job and career skills centered on the family unit.
The Church believes that the family is the foundation of our society. Accordingly, public policy should be formed with a view toward reinforcing the family unit. Pope Francis has stated that, “the family is the fundamental cell of society, where we learn to live with others despite our differences and to belong to one another.” (Evangelii Guadium, 66).
The program’s focus on employment is a reflection of the Church’s teaching on the dignity of work and economic justice. By providing a means for economic stability, the program assists families in being able to meet their basic needs and take steps forward to rise out of poverty.
Therefore, practical policies reinforcing fatherhood, motherhood, strong family bonds, and financial stability, such as the Couples Advancing Together Pilot Program should be encouraged, and supported, by Maryland’s legislature. It is for these reasons that the Maryland Catholic Conference thus asks this Committee for a favorable report for HB 1181, in order to continue support for this noteworthy program.