Single Families: the Struggle to Survive
There are roughly around 6 billion people in the world or there were as of 2009 and for every 1000 people about 5 are divorced, over 13 million american women alone are widowed, and many people are just single. So me by choice others by circumstance but the truth of the matter is that over 20% of families worldwide are single parent run homes. How do these people live? Many in poverty and a grand majority of them live in the middle to low class ranks of society.
Many of us believe the economy sucks, our lives suck, we think we’ve got it bad but we should see how some of these people live. How does one get by surviving in a paycheck by paycheck manner? How do you pay bills and eat? Many of these questions do have answers, lets start with a question: How do we deal with educating the children of single parents? 1. Education In the past, if someone had a child that was it, their main focus was raising and providing for that child regardless of the kind education that they had.Those parents didn’t have much of a choice but to join the workforce immediately to put food on the table and continuing an education was more of a luxury. Many in society viewed this issue to be more of a personal matter rather than a social concern. Views about this have changed with the rapid increase of single parent households growing to a staggering 13. 7 million in the United States. (Grall) One place where we can see evidence of people becoming more aware of the importance of single parents is in education.It is not a little known fact that a quality education can improve conditions for those who seek it and single parents are not an exception to that rule. That is one of the reasons why we have seen more local, state and national governments and organizations offer financial assistance to those single parents who wish to continue their education. In a joint study conducted by the University of Illinois and Washington University that examined the effects of postsecondary education on the economic well being of single parents, the results were not surprising.The study found through a series of analysis that “single parents with postsecondary education, especially those with 4-year college degrees, had significantly higher labor income and house values and were less likely to live in poverty than those with a high school degree or less than a high school degree. ” (Zhan, and Pandey 661-673) Unfortunately, the study did find that only 31% of mothers and 41% of fathers had any type of college education. Even more astounding was that of those single parents with a college education only 8% of mothers and 17% of fathers had college degrees(Zhan, and Pandey 661-673).This study shows the magnitude that investing an education has on single parents to empower themselves, increase their financial earning power and to dedicate resources to promote educational opportunities for single parents. Of course because the single parent’s case is more unique than that of the common student, the need for financial assistance such as scholarships and grants are necessary. With the costs of college tuition continuing to soar, scholarships for single parents are extremely important.Scholarships are designed to pay for higher education such as college, graduate school or some type of professional school. Obtaining a scholarship is the best way to avoid some if not all of the tuition fees and unlike loans, (which will be discussed later) scholarships do not require the recipient to pay those funds back. Scholarships are not normally meant to provide any income beyond a student’s higher education expenses. While there are thousands of scholarships offered, they are mainly split into two types, school sponsored scholarships that award funds based on academic performance or private scholarships.Private scholarships can be granted to support a student pursuing a certain field of study or can even be given because the student is a member of a certain race, gender or religion. In the case of single parents, there are special organizations such as Raise the Nation that awards scholarships to single mothers. What makes Raise the Nation so unique is that not only does it provide scholarship money to the parents to use for their education; it also provides funds for daycare for their children. Of course, certain criteria such as GPA and community involvement are necessary to receive support. Raise the Nation) Some communities have begun to offer scholarships to qualifying single parents as well. One state that has really stepped up is Arkansas. In 1990, Arkansas established the Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund The success rate of Arkansas’ program is astounding; of the 1,150 beneficiaries in 2006 75% are continuing their education or used the scholarship money to complete their degree. Even better news is that looking back on the previous six years, the graduation rate of single mothers that benefited from the Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund was around 75%. ASPSF 2006 Annual Report). This type of model that Arkansas has laid down can especially be beneficial to single parents in other states. The idea of a community based scholarship fund designed to encourage single parents who yearn for a higher education is something that many people would welcome. Unfortunately, a scholarship program similar to that of Arkansas could not be found at the federal level. However, single parents can take advantage of federal grants, one grant being the Pell Grant.While the Pell Grant is not exclusive to single parents, the program is arranged to help out students with low incomes. Whether or not a student will receive the Pell Grants depends on the Expected Family Contribution , or EFC. The EFC is based on the information that is entered by the student in their Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, form. (Federal Pell Grant Program 90) Generally speaking, the lower the EFC score the higher amount that the student will receive in financial aid and the Pell Grant.Some of the factors that help a single parent get more aid include, low income, fewer assets and also because many single parents claim Head of Household on their income taxes. Like scholarships, grants do not need to be paid back. With that being said it is the sole responsibility of the student to use these funds wisely. The 1992 Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA-92) was a great step forward for all students who sought financial aid. This act made it easier for students who were turned down before to obtain funds for their schooling.The HEA-92 has been heralded as a monumental moment in the history of federal financial aid because it really was focused on supporting postsecondary education. While many groups were willing and able to take advantage of this act, one group’s numbers declined, that group was single parents. In a study that was conducted by The US Department of Education, Single parents who received financial aid declined from 94% in 1990 to a grim 79% by 2000. One theory as to why the big plunge is being blamed on the fact that the EFC for single parents had increased from $800 to $1,300 even though it decreased for almost everyone else. Hartle 19-21) What this meant was that more single parents now had to join the workforce to not only provide for their families, but to pay for their education. With the HEA 92 in place, single parents who really wanted to continue their education had to seek other methods to get money which came in the form of Stafford Loans. Stafford Loans are available directly from the US Department of Education. There are two types of loans that are popular among students, subsidized and unsubsidized loans. The difference between the two has to do the interest that is being charged on the loan.The interest on the subsidized loan is paid by the federal government while the student is attending school. Also during the students enrollment, the do not have to make payments on the loan until the student graduates. Unsubsidized loans begin to accrue interest from the time that the loan is paid out to the school and the student is responsible for that interest. To obtain both of these loans, the student must be enrolled at least half time. (Stafford Loan) These types of loans can be beneficial to single parents who must work to make ends meet at home and want to go to school also.Even after the single parent has finished their studies and are on their way to a rewarding career, they can still qualify for loan forgiveness. Loan forgiveness programs are being offered from an employer and other organizations. For instance, if you are a teacher, you might agree to teach in an impoverished area in exchange for loan deferment. If you teach for the agreed period of time, your loan is then forgiven. With the availability of scholarships, loans and grants, single parents can improve their educational prospects for themselves and their families.While our society is not necessarily exactly where we would all want it to be, one can be hopeful that future social policies that promote educational opportunities for single parents will increase. Education is important for single parents and their children. There are many educational programs for this reason. To assist single parents in their parenting, places like school districts, churches and non-profits provide classes to educate them on parenting skills such as meal preparation, food budgeting, emergencies, etc. These classes not only help educate, but they also help with emotional needs.The website ericdigests. org describes programs that aid parents in literacy, counseling, job placement and college education. There are also programs for the children of single parents. Some organizations have programs that involve education and scholarships where children can take month long courses that vary from the areas of arts to computers to sports. Some of the most significant programs for single parents are college programs. It is often necessary for single parents to have college education in order to obtain jobs that will support their family.Endicott College has a program called Keys to Degrees which is for single men and women between the ages of 18 and 24 who have young children. This program enables them to take advantage of the opportunity to attain undergraduate degrees while being provided with campus housing and other support coinciding with their specific needs. Wilson College has a program called Women with Children that provides yearly housing to mothers with children any age over 20 months. This allows the women to pursue a fulltime education. Other colleges have similar Women with Children programs, but have different requirements.Misericordia University’s Women with Children program has less requirements and offers their programs to women of all ages with no restrictions on the age or amount of children the woman has. Saint Paul’s College has a Single Parent Support System program. Parents desiring to be a part of this program must have two or less children between the ages of 2 months and 9 years and must maintain a GPA of 2. 5. If they are able to fulfill the requirements they are provided with yearly housing allowing them to pursue a fulltime education and obtain a degree within three to four years.Most colleges have online programs that allow single parents to get their college education at home where they can still care for their children. These are just a few of the college programs available to single parents, there are a plethora of others. These programs have high value to single parents. Along the lines of education, it is a common belief that the grades of most children of single parents are not as high as those of children with two parents. This has been proven. Research has shown that children of single parents are likely to have lower IQs than those who have two parents.Research has also shown that single parent children are more likely to drop out of school, three times more likely. It is possible that one of the reasons for lower academic achievements in children of single parents is that the parents spend less time with their children, discipline in a less consistent manor and have less control over their children than two parents together. Single parents are often working more than two parents to support their children which results in less time spent with children and less involvement in their life.It has been proven that children with parents who are less involved in their life and education are more likely to have lower academic achievement. Income is another risk factor and because single parents don’t have the support of another person, it is possible for them to make less money. Research shows when single parent families receive child support, the children are more likely to have higher academic achievement than children of families that don’t receive child support. An interesting fact is that children in mother absent homes get lower science grades than those in father absent homes.Overall single parent children find it more difficult to connect with school. Since single parents have less time to spend with their children, care for their children while they work is necessary. Some day care programs are educational and run through the schools of the children. Programs like Kids Club are after school programs that can assist single parents. Some Kids Club programs are free while others charge five dollars per day. They are open every day and some schools keep the programs running through summer.Children can go right after school since the program is on campus and parents can pick their children up around six at night. Though these programs are not specifically for single parents, they are extremely useful for single parents. They allow the parent to complete their work day without having to worry about their child and the child can participate in activities, some of which are learning experiences. 2. US Government In 1996 Congress proposed a new policy titled “Temporary Assistance to Needy Families” in response to the failed AFDC program by implementing work requirements and time limits for recipients.Bill Clinton signed the new law hoping it would move more people off the welfare rolls and into the work force to alleviate both the burden of government spending on welfare and to bolster the economy. Many people opposed the new legislation out of fear that it would wreak havoc in our nation’s cities, and many innocent children would suffer and ultimately be exploited. Opponents were quoted saying “it would liken our streets to those of Brazil…” The effects of the TANF policy have been hard to determine. In a study conducted 10 years after the 1996 reform policy, shows a stark contrast to the years of the AFDC.Caseloads declined and a majority of recipients have gone on and have been removed off the welfare rolls, though they still receive subsidy care such as housing, child care, food assistance and health insurance. Many are actively engaged in the workforce and what was predicted by welfare reform opponents never came to pass. Teen pregnancy, a huger predictor of welfare dependency has slowly begun to decline. Critics agree that though case load decline is impressive it is not an accurate indicator of welfare reform success.They feel success would be measured by the amount of people getting off welfare rolls, into the work place and no longer in need of government subsidy programs including housing, food, and medical assistance. But the reality is a majority of the recipients leaving the welfare rolls are still reliant on those programs to stay just above the poverty line. In the end we find it hard to determine whether or not the welfare program has helped people stay above the poverty level or has actually kept them from moving forward.Living in America can be a great blessing to almost anyone that is either naturally born American or migrates to the states for better life. In foreign countries, many people wish they lived the “American Dream” life that is so well spoken of. Although the media portrays it to be easily achievable, it is not. It can be obvious to some that living any type of “good life” can take a lot of hard work and commitment to achieve it. Unfortunately, many American families break on their journey to achieve the infamous dream. For whatever reason the family might break, it usually is left with some types of dilemmas.The most popular dilemma of them all is the financial problems it gets left with, especially for the single parent who is left in charge of the children. Now a days it’s not only the women who are left in charge of the children after a divorce, statistics show more and more fathers are left with the care of their broken family. And the majority is left stuck in a financial nightmare that leaves them with no choice but to seek some type of help, and typically the number one choice is government aid. Government programs tend to give families a bad reputation.It singles the family out into the helpless status, working class part of society. Although America insists that we are a classless society, it can be proven false. Society tends to consciously and subconsciously label every person, every family into some sort of class. Some of the American society has been known to believe that government help is the best thing America has; yet, a lot of people think vice versa. Bottom line is that thanks to all the different types of aid there is out there, it has definitely helped out all types of families struggling to make everyday ends meet.Just like all things, there will be people out there who do make a good living, yet some tend to lie their way into getting the aid they say they need. These types of programs were not created with any intention to make a family dependant on it. They were made to help. People who abuse the help is never right, but it shouldn’t affect the people who are seeking the help they need for the right reason in a negative way that society portrays it to be. There is a long list of government programs. On example is the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or the TANF Bureau.According to “http://ezinearticles. com/? Government-Grants-For-Single-Parents&id=2673848”, it is a program that offers government grants for single parents so that their children can be properly taken care of in a home environment. Plus it assists single parents’ in developing job skills and building strong family units. Another form of single parent government grant is the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF). The CCDF is a nationwide assistance program that is administrated by state governments.Each state has their own unique eligibility requirement, so a single parent must apply through their local town or county social service department. Both of these are popular choices single families tend to seek for, and according to their personal experiences, it has helped them out immensely. At the end of the day, there are families who regrettably cannot support their family the way they wish they could. Some of them have extenuating circumstances that leaves them with no choice but to ask for the help. Again, no program is perfect anywhere one looks.It does not matter whether it is in a well-developed country or not. There will always be something or someone who will unwillingly turn something positive into a negative. 3. International The united states has its share of hardships but how are situations like this dealt with in different countries. we researched two countries other than the united states, one a third world country the other a more middle class civilized country. Italy has always been a coun try of my interest since it is my country of origin, so that is the one I chose to research.Italy is known for their romance not they’re high rate of single parent families in fact italy has one of the lowest rates in Europe. In fact the amount of single parent households in italy has remained unchanged . the families counted might even be the ones counted the first time around. SInce 1971 there have been repot of 467,000 single parent households in italy. The european government has established a few programs to help single parents overcome the financial burden of raising a child. One of which is called REMO(reciprocal enforcement of maintenance orders).This is used only in situations where the partner lives outside whichever country one lives in. They too have child support and programs such as the ESA(employment and support agency) in case of a disability these people help you stay on track. They also have job grants an tax free money that they give to parents receiving benefits for one or ore children. Italy as well as other european countries are far more advanced than places such as Africa. They have the same benefits or almost the same help for single parents as we do here. Being a single parent is hard for anybody; however, living on virtually othing in a country with hardly any income can cause some seriously detrimental issues. South Africa has some of the highest rates of divorce, single parenthood, and poverty in the world. These horrendous hardships combined create a nationwide epidemic that contagiously affects generation after generation. Although there are single fathers as well as mothers in South Africa, the percentage of single mothers is significantly higher than fathers. There are a plethora of causes for single parenthood in South Africa. Some of which are larger factors than others.There is of course the universal causes that result in a single parent, which include: separation or divorce, death and pregnancy out of wedlock. However, some of the larger causes that are more prevalent in South Africa, and third world countries in general, involve the ever rising epidemic of AIDS/HIV that affects countless families throughout South Africa. AIDS/HIV is rapidly killing people aged, 19-45 in South Africa and is increasing everyday. There are approximately more than 10 million children in South Africa who have died from AIDS.According to Professor Clifford Odimgegwu, Professor of the University of Witwatersrand in Southern Africa, “the grandparents are currently taking care of the orphans from parents who have died of this disease”. This creates a massive burden on the elderly who are even more so unable to provide for a child. The ever-present family destroyer, “divorce” has been splitting families in South Africa at an alarming rate. “Increased numbers of divorced in South Africa have also created more single-parent families”(Agarwal) than ever seen before.Statistics show that “(2009) seven million children are growing up with single mothers outnumbering the 6. 2 million-about 34% of the country’s children-who live with both parents…which shows that divorce is responsible for most of the estimated 40% of South Africa’s 18 million children being raised by single mothers”(261, Bojuwoye). Due to ongoing never-ending civil and foreign wars throughout South Africa, fathers being called to war create a heavy amount of women left to take care of the children and even at times extended family.As well as taking the father and the income away from the family, war leads unfortunately to many cases of rape that results in pregnancy. With such high rates of fertility in South Africa and such a deficit in contraceptives, it is not surprising that this creates women who have unwanted children who they are unable to care for. According to family counselor and single parenting expert Abhishek Agarwal, “a 2000 report on the ‘State of South Africa’s Population’ showed that the need for contraception for adult women and teenagers in rural areas fat outstrips the availability of contraceptive education and supplies”.A third reason for the absence of the father is the high rates of unemployment and inability to find work in rural areas. In some cases, fathers have been forced to leave the family home to find work across the country’s borders. This leaves the mother to fend for herself and her dependants. This can lead to extreme poverty, which can force single parents to abandon their children. Many South African mothers’ reasoning for abandonment is the fact that foster parents receive more financial support than do single parents.To the parent, this may seem like the most logical choice, to gamble their child’s survival on the small chance they’re put into a well-financed foster family. Regrettably, there are almost no government-funded programs designed to assist single-parent families in South Africa. The closest form of financial aid towards single-families is the State Maintenance Grant, which is directed towards 4 categories of state: the elderly, persons with disabilities, social relief, and child and family care.Towards mothers, she will be eligible only “if she has applied for financial support from her partner or the father of her children through a magistrate’s court, and has been unable to get it; or if she was widowed, deserted or under certain other conditions”(“The Report of the Lund Committee on Child and Family Support”). The government is currently working on new bills that would call for less restricted protocols, higher amounts, and a wider distribution of help towards these women.There are however, other non-government programs worldwide that target single-parent families in South Africa. There is a program that is run by the non-government organization SOS Children. This organization supplies vocational training courses (including beadwork and dressmaking) to single parents. They are taught trades where they can make and sell products. They also give some single parents grants to start businesses of their own. There is also the FAMSA, an organization in South Africa, which helps out in counseling of individuals regardless of financial status.Lastly, there is an organization that originated in Rwanda and became it’s first non-government organization supporting parents without partners. Tabara Africa’s main objectives are to 1) set up single parent networks, 2) increase child welfare by increasing accerss to health care, education and other basic rights which low-9ncome families often go without, 3) assist single parent emplyment by supporting vocational training and single-parent work cooperatives without compromising child welfare, and 4) lobbying to make this a government issue and influencing policies which affect the welfare of single-parent families.Hopefully these and many other organizations out there can come together to make a difference for the tragic conditions which single-parents live in South America (Woolley). 4. Emotions With that said its probably acceptable to say parenting is never easy. There is no “on the job training”, when you walk into parenthood. It’s with basic information shared by friends or family. Children don’t come with instructions. When being a single parent all the responsibilities fall on one set of shoulders. Parenting is hard and painful. Singles have to be strong play the role of the mom and dad.Dealing with money as a single parent can be very stressful. One income and one parent as head of a household and to pay for the cost of supporting a family is hard. Dealing with the ex- spouse, with added stress for the children, bills, and work can pull on your emotions. As a single parent you are also isolated. Emotional distress can also affect a single parent; this can easily be conquered by allowing yourself go through an emotional process aided by a professional. The emotional process is management of emotion from denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and until you reach acceptance.In our modern society a single mother’s value is often overlooked and worse taken for granted. Usually children are raised in two parent’s homes. Most single mothers live the treadmill existence. They work at least one full- time job and often part time job in order to satisfy the financial needs of the family. Single moms rarely get a full night of sleep much less time for relaxation or enjoying the social side of life. As singles mothers we can’t give in to feelings of guilt or shame. There are many advantages in being a single parent and there are support groups that help single parents.There are many emotional stages when being a single parent. You feel angry, depressed, betrayed, happy and anxious. In being a single parent you are the mother and the father. To be a successful parent you need to take care of yourself, be healthy, be confident, save money, and attend support groups, and balance work and parenting. Not only do single parents suffer emotionally but the children do as well. When parents split up children usually become aggressive or badly behaved. Their behavior was linked to living in a broken home.There are different situations as of being a single parent (divorce, adoption, artificial insemination, surrogate motherhood, death, child abuse, or abandonment). In being a single parent as for me there are lots of programs that can assist you. It is hard emotional in being a single parent from my experience but I attend support groups to help me emotionally and I recommend it to other singles as well. 5. Statistics Single parents can vary in terms of not only being a single mother, or a single father, but also varies within race and age. According to Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support, there are about 13. million single parents in the United States today. These parents are responsible for raising 21. 8 million children and approximately 26% of children in the United States today, is under the age of 21. Throughout the years, many people believed that mothers are more likely to be a single parent. Around 84% of custodial parents are mothers, and 16% of custodial parents are fathers. Of the mothers who are custodial parents, 45% are currently divorced or separated, 34. 2% have never been married, 19% are married, including women who have been remarried, and 1. 7% were widowed.In the father‘s case, 57. 8% are divorced or separated, 20. 9% have never married, 20% are currently married, again including those who have been remarried, and fewer than 1% were widowed. Although it’s difficult to raise their children as a single parent, both single mothers and single fathers need to be employed in order to efficiently raise their kids. 79. 5% of custodial single mothers are employed, of that percentage, 49. 8% work full time year round, and 29. 7% work part-time or part-year. 90% of custodial single fathers are employed, 71. 7% work full time, year round and the remaining 18. % work part-time or part-year. Men’s income tend to rise by an average of 31% after separation. Women and children’s income on the other hand, falls by an average of 12% after separation. Just because an individual is a single parent, does not mean that they will be struggling and in poverty. About 27% of custodial single mothers and their children live in poverty whereas 12. 9% of custodial single fathers and their children live in poverty. Those that are struggling can refer to government help in order to “get by” with their troubles. Among single mothers, 22% receive Medicaid, 23. % receive food stamps, 12% receive some form of public housing or rent subsidy, and 5% receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, also known as TANF. Each ethnicity and race differs as well. Certain races have more single mothers than the other, and single fathers seem to be smaller in general. 50% of African American children live in single parent families, which tend to be with the mother, 25% of Hispanic children live with a single mother, 16% of non-Hispanic white children live with a single mother, 10% of Asian children live with a single mother, and 4-5% of children of all races live with a single father.Another factor would be age, 74% of single parents are women that are aged 30 years and older. The average age would be around 36 years of age. 24% of single mothers are under 30 years, 13% of single mothers are under 25 years, and 2% are under 20 years. 39. 1% of custodial single mothers are 40 years old or older. Among females, 54% of custodial mothers are raising one child from the absent parent and 46% have two or more children living with them. Children will be without a doubt affected by the separation of their parents.Whether they are born into a family of just one parent or if they separate after the child is in the picture already. 1 in 3 is born to unmarried parents and 1 in 4 lives with only one parent. Unfortunately, 1 in 2 children will live in a single parent family at some point in childhood. Due to the fact that so many teenagers are getting pregnant and having kids at such a young age, 1 in 8 is born to a teenage mother. The majority of teenage pregnancy are unplanned and resort to the child being born into a “broken family” with just one parent being present. in 25 lives with neither parent, sorry to say that some kids don’t live with neither of their parents, but just because this happens, it does not mean that it is a bad thing. Adoption can always be a good thing, especially if the biological parents are not stable enough to take care of their child. The emotional, financial, and mental stability of children are in jeopardy in these non-nuclear family homes. since the great majority of homes are non-traditional we never help but wonder how the single parents do it. they manage to be mom and dad in one.A little insight is always good because you never know what’s set for you’re future. Sometimes its good to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.