Skagit County Trends Newsletter

SINGLE-PARENT FAMILIES HIGHER THAN BENCHMARK -

Perhaps one of the most common misconceptions of single parent families is that they inherently struggle more than two parent families. It might be just as unfair to assume there is twice as much time, love, and money in a two parent family compared to a single parent family.

What is true about families, regardless of the number of parents, is that they are all very different. But generally speaking, there are a few relatively safe assumptions that can be made based off of family characteristics such as household income or if they have a safe and reliable means of family transportation. Knowing the answers to these questions can tell us a lot about each family, but does not cast a mold that all families with a similar composition fit into. Still, even in very happy and functional single parent families, there is perhaps more work for one person to do compared to each parental role in two parent families.

In the same general sense, single-parent families might be more likely to face financial difficulties due to only having one income, more challenges to the daily schedule (getting the kids to school and self to work on-time), and less time in the day for a single parent to spend with their children. When looking for information on single-parent families, internet search results primarily come back with websites such as “modernmom.com", “momjunction.com", “circleofmoms.com". There are websites for single-parent dads, such as “onlydads.com", “singledaddy.com", and “fatherhood.com", but you aren't going to see these unless you specifically use “dads" or “fathers" in the search request. This might provide a little insight into the different societal norms or expectations of single parent mothers and single-parent fathers.

Examining the Total Single Parent Families with Children as a Share of Total Families with Children, during 2016, there was an estimated

estimated total of 3,974 single-parent families in Skagit County, with the majority, about 63.9%, being led by females.

Anita Perez, Family Development Housing Specialist says when compared to single-parent moms, single-parent dads generally struggle more with locating and acquiring resources, such as housing, than single-parent moms. They might be more embarrassed to seek help than their female counterparts and perhaps believe they should be able to handle things on their own.

Wende Dolstad, WIC Program Manager says “single fathers may not know they even qualify for a program named Women, Infant & Children, but once in, I think they feel accepted and can navigate well and feel benefitted from the experience."

Although not exclusive of the different challenges faced by male and female led single-parent families, one example is shelter services. According to Jen Milton, Housing Resource Center Manager, “most shelters that serve females can also serve children, however most shelters that serve males do not".

The shares offered in this indicator are estimates based on the American Community Survey conducted annually by the U.S. Census. Therefore, potentially widely different shares of male and female single-parent families are seen in this indicator from year-to-year, especially at the county-level.

As family types vary numerously, so do the implications of this indicator. Knowing the share of single parent families in a community helps the government, non-profits, and other social service organizations better gauge the resources that may be asked of them, now and in the future.

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