PR: One-parent families need support to stand on their own feet

28.11.2014 | zkouknuto: 2347x | komentářů: 0

The international round table on single parenting and one-parent families took place in Prague on 20 October, facilitated by Marcela Augustová and organised by APERIO - Healthy Parenting Association. The main goal of the meeting was to uproot common myths about single parenting. ‘We flatter ourselves that we have a full control over our lives and that our happiness depends on nothing but our own will,’ said Eliška Kodyšová (APERIO) in the opening speech. ‘Consequently, we believe that single parents deserve their situation because they have produced it themselves. We are not willing to admit that the same thing could happen to anybody - including ourselves.’

Contributions by experts from the Research Institute for Labour and Social Affairs or the Czech Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Sociology described the threat of poverty faced by many one-parent families. The risk of poverty is very high even if the parent has a stable job or receives social benefits. Children living in low-income families often display poorer school results, difficult relations with peers, higher risk of depression and lower self-confidence than children from average or high-income families.

Single parents need to overcome much greater obstacles to find and keep a job. They are much more dependent on child care facilities, and if they also have to deal with housing problems or conflicts with the former partner, it is virtually impossible to keep a stable job. The round table was attended by several representatives of helping organisations providing services to one-parent families, e.g. the consultancy centre and shelter house Na Počátku, the Cestou Necestou centre or the Family and Social Care Centre.

Most participants greatly appreciated the experience of international experts who presented their successful methods of work with one-parent families. Eva Litavská (Miesto pod slnkom, Košice, Slovakia) presented a programme which helps people break free from poverty. Satwat Rehman (One Parent Families, Edinburgh, Scotland) described how her organisation helps underage mothers deal with the unexpected pregnancy and child care, and to continue their education or career. ‘We can see the effect of the project in the higher birth weight of the children born to these mothers,’ said Satwat Rehman. Stuart Duffin (One Family, Dublin, Ireland) introduced their programme of career planning for single parents which keeps them independent of social benefits. ‘The career guidance has to be tailored to the single parents’ conditions and needs,’ said Stuart Duffin.

The round table was concluded by contributions on legal matters. Jana Seemanová, APERIO's legal expert, presented proposals for systemic changes that could help single parents, and a representative of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs described a draft of the act on substitute alimony, which should partly relieve the financial situation of families that need to sue for their alimony.

Each of the 5 sections was introduced with a short film about single parenting in the Czech Republic. The films were created as a part of the project ‘Single Parents and the Labour Market’ supported from the European Social Fund within the Operational Programme Human Resources and Employment.

Single Parents in Figures

  • Two in five children born in 2013 were born to unmarried parents.
  • One in five children grows up in a one-parent family.
  • Only one in ten children of divorced parents is placed in the custody of the father or shared/alternating custody.
  • On average, women’s salaries are 25% lower than the salaries of men in similar positions.
  • Nine in ten employed single mothers work full time, with no guarantee that the employment will make them free from poverty.
  • One in ten children lives with an unemployed single parent. The risk of unemployment grows with the number of children in one-parent families.
  • Four in ten one-parent families fall below the poverty threshold.
  • Poverty is the major source of poor development of children living in families. The children’s well-being is not likely to change if the number of divorces and one-parent families in society decreases.
  • The cost of housing takes up about 30% of one-parent families’ expenses (compared to 16% in the case of complete families).


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