Some of the news articles about single parents described and linked to in this post are clearly inspiring but others may surprise and alarm you. They aspire to broaden our perspective and understanding of single parents and their experiences worldwide.
If you have trouble getting to these links, feel free to email me at email@example.com and I’ll send PDFs of them to you.
Since 1995, child support organizations in the United States have been recognizing the significance of child support and social service groups that bolster single-parent families. Former President Bill Clinton initiated this observance on the 20th anniversary of the federal Child Support Enforcement program. The Office of Child Support Enforcement in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children & Families offers information to families with links to state, tribal and local child support agencies. The federal government provides a free, online handbook with an overview of the child support process from locating a delinquent, nonpaying parent to establishing paternity to initiating child support collection through the local child support offices. In addition, the OSE offers a list of acronyms and a glossary of words specific to the legal process surrounding the establishment and enforcement of child support payments. Having worked with lawyers and judges in the court system, I empathize with single parents who have experienced — or are experiencing — anxiety, stress, uncertainty and fear over establishing custody, visitation and child support arrangements. I worked with three attorneys: one who offered an objectionable, initial arrangement and had an overall bad attitude; another who directed me through the paperwork, depositions and negotiation to achieve the custody and child support agreement; and the final one who fought with me to define and enforce my rights in the court-issued order. This process seems daunting, especially if you have babies and small children in tow or a co-parent who is violent, hostile or absent. But following the necessary steps with the court system and your local child support office can provide peace of mind, security for you and your family, and accountability before the law.
A growing number of communities in the United States are battling poverty and inequity through the initiation of Guaranteed Income Pilot programs. Long Beach, CA, is among the recent ones to launch its own program that pays $500 per month to a select number of single parents in a given ZIP Code for one year. Seed money for this project came from the state funds, a donation from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and federal funds from the American Rescue Act. In addition to the monthly payment, recipients will receive free child care, transportation support, workforce training, and cell phones and internet connection. In the fall, the city is accepting applications from candidates who meet income qualifications, among others.
Another community combating income inequity is Tacoma, WA, through its Guaranteed Income Pilot program titled Growing Resilience in Tacoma. Currently accepting applicants, this project is expected to distribute $500 monthly to 110 individuals who qualify as Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained and Employed, also known as ALICE, with particular attention given to single-parent households. The program involved the efforts of the United Way of Pierce County, Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, the Urban League, Sound Outreach and the Tacoma Housing Authority.
The State of Israel National Insurance Institute is awarding tuition assistance to the parents of nearly 300,000 children, many of whom are children of single parents. Eligible parents of children between 6 and 18 years of age receive these payments without having to apply. The funds or study grants are distributed to offset school supply expenses, said NII Director Meir Spiegler, who added:
“Detailed text messages about the grant are being sent to the families’ cellphones to facilitate the purchase of the equipment needed for the start of the school year. These are in addition to other services provided to citizens by the NII.”
Other eligible individuals include families with four or more children who are on income support, child support and disability. The acronym NIS in the headline refers to the Israeli currency, New Shekel.
As parents prepare for the first day of school, many of them know their children will be admitted, but for many years, that situation was not the case in India. Fortunately, policy changes beginning with the Dehli government are now making it possible for children with only one parent’s surname to be admitted into school. These children are not just born and raised by single parents; some of them live in the slum areas and do not — or cannot — reveal the last name of the other parent depending on their particular circumstances.
Migrant, single mothers in South Korea face the double injustice of prejudice and limited access to social programs. Recognizing these hardships, pastor Cheong Jong-won and his wife, Kim Sung-eun, launched Framily, an organization that provides friendship and family to migrant, single mothers and their children through economic and emotional support. In addition, the couple operates a Vietnamese cafe in Seoul called Mom’s Apron that offers jobs for migrant, single mothers. Their work began in 2009 when Sung-eun observed the abuse and violence these women were enduring that led them to seek divorce:
“In the case of migrant women, the most common reason for divorce is domestic violence, which leaves them with depression after their marriage ends. We try to give them emotional support by inviting them into our community for casual gatherings and trips, which gives them the feeling that they are not alone.”
Alienation has further exacerbated the situation of migrant, single mothers. Government support programs for migrant women are typically limited to Korean language, cooking and culture classes to help them adapt to Korean society rather than emotional support groups and job training and opportunities. Donations from supporters sustain Framily, but if it receives government aid, Framily may not be permitted to assist undocumented migrants and their children, a few of whom it currently helps.
Energy poverty, also known as fuel poverty, disproportionately affects single-parent households, according to Eurostat data of member countries in the European Union. This type of poverty stems from residences, such as apartments and houses, not being constructed with energy-efficient materials and are characterized as poor thermal quality of housing. Many homeowners cannot keep their houses sufficiently cool in the summer or warm in the winter, and tenants may confront landlords who refuse to make modifications so that the residences can be more energy efficient. In addition, electricity prices with their taxes and duties have been increasing, causing consumers to budget more and more to cover this vital expense. For single parents, particularly single mothers, energy poverty creates the added stresses of trying to protect their children from excessive heat and cold while making every effort to conserve energy and save money.
Children in the United States may not be dying from COVID-19 in large numbers, but they are suffering from the loss of a caregiver and a parent from this deadly virus, resulting in a growing number of children living in single-parent households, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of the 120,000 children experiencing this catastrophic loss, about 40,000 of them lost a parent, according to a JAMA Pediatric study published in April 2021. With the rise in the Delta variant, that number is higher. These deaths have affected almost 5.5 million families, a number more staggering, according to an analysis published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The racial disparity during the pandemic is even more devastating, said Emily Smith-Greenaway, associate professor of sociology and spatial sciences at the University of Southern California, who explained:
“Black youth experience higher rates of familial loss earlier in life relative to white children — speaking to the racial inequality in mortality conditions. Specifically, we find that even as Black children represent about 14 percent of the U.S. child population, our estimates suggest they represent 20 percent of those bereaved.”
Many people point to the resilience of children, but coping with the loss of a parent under these circumstances will scar these children for the rest of their lives.
On Thursdays, I share a blog about a day in the actual life of a single parent.
Starting the summer of 2021, my son, Joseph, is writing a monthly column titled In My Son’s Words where he describes his experiences as a teenager and as a child of a single parent.
Twice a month, instead of a personal post, I put together one where I assemble news on and about single parents nationally and globally.