It’s no secret that more people than ever before are living in poverty right now. In fact, more than 35 million people in the United States have fallen below the poverty line according to the latest reports. In light of certain recent developments, that figure is expected to surge during the years to come. Climbing out of a financial hole isn’t a simple matter, either. Once you begin experiencing financial difficulties, bouncing back from them is a long, difficult road.
Single Mothers and Poverty
Based on recent studies, an estimated 40 percent of the families now living in poverty are led by single mothers. They’re almost five times more likely to face hardships than families with two adults. Unfortunately, quite a few misconceptions surround single-mother families. Though you can find further details from The LifeSavers Foundation, let’s take a look at some truths about single mothers and their financial situations.
Single Moms Want to Work
Far too many people turn up their noses at single moms who are struggling to make ends meet. They think they’re lazy or unwilling to work. Few things could be further from the truth. Most single moms have jobs. Those who don’t are more than willing to work. Unfortunately, finding a job and keeping it isn’t that simple.
Most single moms have little choice but to take the first job that comes along, and those jobs don’t always come with flexible schedules or paid sick days. Employers are often unwilling to tailor employees’ schedules to the needs of their children. At the same time, having to miss only a couple of days from work each month to care for a sick child without pay could mean the difference between making ends meet and falling behind.
Financial Assistance Doesn’t Always Work
Another major misconception is that all single moms have to do is apply for government-based assistance to help make things easier for them. That’s not always the case. In many areas, the waiting list for housing assistance programs like Section 8 is so long many single moms have little hope of ever getting the help they need. SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, doesn’t necessarily help, either. Income requirements for this program have become increasingly restrictive lately.
An unemployed single mom might receive more than $600 per month in SNAP benefits for food and necessities. When she works to help further make ends meet, though, her benefits greatly decrease even if she’s working a part-time job or barely bringing home minimum wage. Then, much of the money she was hoping to use for rent, electricity, heat, and other essentials has to go to food instead. On top of that, unemployment benefits only last for so long. Of course, that’s providing needy families are eligible for them in the first place.
Child Support Isn’t the Answer
At least 30 percent of moms don’t receive child support at all, and another 15 percent aren’t getting the support their children are entitled to. All a man has to do to evade child support orders is to quit his job or move to another state. Single moms, even those living below the poverty line, have to pay to pursue child support once something like that happens. When a mom has to choose between having gas money to get to work next week or bet on the remote possibility of receiving child support, she’s going to choose the former.
Better Jobs Will Make a Difference
In truth, the key to helping single moms overcome poverty isn’t telling them to get a job. It’s connecting them with the jobs they need. This means steady, full-time jobs with better pay, flexible scheduling, paid sick days, and other benefits. Affordable work-based daycare programs wouldn’t hurt, either. Those jobs are difficult to come by, and most single moms don’t have the time or resources to spend months or years looking for them.
It’s Our Responsibility to Help
It’s easy for someone on the outside looking in to simply say, “This isn’t my problem.” Honestly speaking, it’s everyone’s responsibility to help. That doesn’t necessarily mean giving single moms money to help them pay their bills each month or buy food for their children. It’s all about trying to make a difference. Financial and job assistance programs need to be improved. Give single moms the power to improve their situations rather than judging them unfairly because of their circumstances.
Single moms aren’t the only ones whose families are living in poverty, but they’re often the ones most deeply affected. Any family living on a single income is going to struggle considering the rising costs of even the most basic necessities and dwindling availability of assistance. Understanding the situation and working to improve it is the only way things are going to change.