Investing in One Parent Families

Investing in one-parent families; breaking the cycle of disadvantage; enhancing mobility.

1. Issues.

  • Parents are living in poverty if their income and resources both material and non-material are so inadequate as to preclude them from having a standard of living which is regarded as acceptable by society.
  • There are less quantifiable aspects of poverty, eg not being able to see friend and family; which are different for women but also differ between groups of women.
  • Across the EU recent figures show that 22% of dependent children under 18 are living in a low income household (Women’s Budget Group).
  • Research show- women’s poverty is an indicator for children’s poverty. (Women’s Budget Group, 2010).
  • One-parent families are increasingly dependent on their own earnings, which remain lower than men’s, both because of segregation and discrimination in the labour-market.
  • It costs a mother parenting alone more than a couple to bring up a child: there is only one adult to make offsetting savings from their own living expenses.
  • Changing family patterns and population ageing result in new and more complex relationships of obligation and exchange across and between generations and households which can affect the caring capacity of women and families Lone mothers are poverty managers & frequently act as shock absorbers, shielding their children from the full impact of inadequate financial resources. This can mean mothers going without food, clothing and warmth.

2. Needs.

  • A stronger, integrated, accessible and supported framework to enhance parents’ opportunities to balance work and family life and therefore fully engage in education, skill development and work.
  • Recognizing that it is not just jobs, but jobs that pay and offer opportunities for progression, with an emphasis on sustaining and progressing in work to ensure all parents who need help to develop their skills have access to the relevant pre-employment and in-work development.
  • To promote a personalised and responsive approach to individual needs which will provide tailored supports to meet the needs of parents, to maximize innovation, leading to more and better outcomes.
  • It is like joining the dots and it can pay its way by preventing child poverty rather than simply picking up the pieces and compensating for its damaging effects: poor educational attainment; disadvantage; persistent and consistent poverty!
  • Empower parents into education and work; to give clear information; and to help parents with practical tasks: based on ideas about empowerment and self-help: an effective welfare state rather than a passive one!
  • Reforms to improve the economic situation for parents; to increase their capacity for financial independence through paid work; and to improve the quality of public service available to parents.
  • Education is a key factor to enable parents to get access to employment that can provide an income that makes self-provision possible. Perspective is to place lone parents on a gender equality basis in the family, in the welfare state, and in the labour market.
  • Tailored solutions to reconcile ideals and realities concerning the combination of paid work and care for children.
  • Not painting an over-optimistic picture of the possibilities for parents in the labour market or under-estimating the difficulties they face in combining care and paid work. Flexibilities and tailoring need to be built into the State’s entitlement and employment framework as a way of giving parents greater income and economic security ensuring progression towards financial independence and smarter futures.

Sources:

1. Ruggeri, K. & Bird, C.E. (2014). Single parents and employment in Europe. Short Statistical Report No. 3. European Commission. Available online.

2. Fanjul, G. & Boychuk, R. (2014). Children of the Recession: The impact of the economic crisis on child well-being in rich countries. Innocenti Report Card 12 – Children in the Developed World. Unicef. Available online.

3. Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality of the European Parliament (2011). Report on the situation of single mothers (2011/2049(INI)). Available online.

4. Internal materials of SPAN, One Parent Families Scotland, APERIO, Intermedia Consulting and One Family were used during preparation of this summary: