Single Parents

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Definitions and Scope

Target Population: Single Parents

Single parents can be defined as unmarried parents. The children of this group of parents, who are born out of wedlock, are considered illegitimate in Singapore. There are benefits and laws that differ based on the child's legitimacy status. This is to reflect the Singapore government's desire to promote parenthood within marriage as the desired and prevailing social norm.[1]

Single mothers

Over representation of female headed single households in 1 and 2 room flats.

Single-parent families are defined as "two-generation households headed by divorced or separated, widowed and never-married parents living with at least one child in the same household." (Mathews & Straughan, 2015).

[identify target group and define who is included or excluded in this category: you want to get it just right: not too broad that it includes those you may not want to include, and not too narrow that it excludes those you want to help. You might be too exclusive: e.g. defining ‘vulnerable’ seniors as ‘low-income’, but you may want to include those without family support. Therefore, you may want to define vulnerable as ‘poor and/or with low family support’. You might be too inclusive: e.g. ‘latchkey kids’ may include those who have working parents, or those with serious behavioural problems.]

Single fathers

Adoption Of Children Act: Single fathers can only adopt a son, and not a daughter, unless special circumstances exist. [2]

Single fathers are relatively uncommon compared to single mothers.

Client Segments

Low-income single parents

The median employment income for unwed parents below the age of 35 is $600. [3]

[Eg. For at risk youth, some could have behavioural problems and be beyond parental control. Others could merely be disengaged and bored in school. Because it seems like different engagement strategies can be customized to these sub-types, it may make sense to segmentize.]

Size of the Problem

In 2014, 7 percent or 82,000 of resident households were single parents with children (Mathews & Straughan, 2015).

446 babies registered in 2014 - almost a quarter of which were born to women below 19 - without the fathers' names. In 2013, there were 448 babies registered without their fathers' names. (ST 14 Apr 2016)

Desired impact for single parents

For single parents to be socially included means they should have the same opportunities as married parents.

[If we have no conception of what counts as a ‘good death’, ‘social inclusion’, ‘engaged youth’ , then it would not be possible to determine whether our policies and services are performing well]

Needs of single parents

Need for public acceptance of single parenthood

And it seems that most Singaporeans, while ready to give children of unmarried mothers a leg-up, are reluctant to accept such family structures as the norm. A survey in 2012 of around 4,650 people by the National Population And Talent Division - part of the Prime Minister's Office - found that 80 per cent of single respondents and 85 per cent of married ones felt only married parents should have children. (ST 14 Apr 2016)

Recently, there has been some policy changes signalling a positive shift in public attitude towards single parents. For example, 8 additional weeks of paid maternity leave were extended to single mothers in 2016, putting their entitlements on par with those granted to married mothers. [4] This change in attitude is also reflected in government statements. In the early 1990s, the government's rhetoric was that a conservative society like Singapore could not "accept" single motherhood. [5] Yet, in 2019, the Ministry of National Development expressed that all mothers are equal and unwed mothers of all ages were welcome to apply for public housing. [5]

However, the dominant narrative reflected in Singaporean policy still prescribes married families as normative and excludes single parents and their children from the definition of a "nuclear family". This also systematically disadvantages them and hinders their access to resources, which will be detailed below.

Existing Resources

[e.g. existing services or programmes both private or public; relevant policies and legislation]

Gaps and Their Causes

public still views single parenthood as something other (isolated from society)

public perception of single parents as unfortunate, helpless

single parenthood may even be frowned upon, undeserving of help

Possible Solutions

[Based on the specific gaps and reasons for those gaps, what might be solutions that can help? Insert existing but untapped resources, or new ideas that have not been considered yet]

Need for better support for the housing needs of single parents

In March 2021, the Ministry of National Development announced that single, unwed parents over the age of 21 can now buy a 3-room flat in a non-mature estate from HDB, compared to a 2-room flat previously. [6]

Existing Resources

Gaps and Their Causes

Possible Solutions

Need for [ insert description ]

There are some benefits which single mothers do not presently receive eg tax incentives. These additional benefits are given to encourage and support parenthood within the context of marriage, according to the Ministry of Social and Family Development. [7]

Existing Resources

Gaps and Their Causes

Possible Solutions

Need for affordable childcare services

Existing Resources

Infant care and kindergarten subsidies: Basic Subsidy for Infant Care and Childcare entitles a working single parent to get up to S$600 subsidy on infant care, and S$300 on childcare.

Gaps and Their Causes

Due to single parents working in a single income household, it may be more difficult for them to afford basic services for their kids.

They may also be working long hours to feed their family, difficult to find time to take care of their kids (all the more important to find childcare service)

Possible Solutions

More subsidies from the government (but does it take into account long working hours of parents?)

Need for emotional support

Existing Resources

Social Service Centres

Family Service Centres

Support groups for single parents

Gaps and Their Causes

Have to juggle both gender roles, may be emotionally taxing on single parents

Lack of a partner to share burden and struggle with, have to put on a strong front for children

May not have a community that shares similar struggles

Possible Solutions

Parenting classes for single parents

Resource Directory

DaySpring New Life Centre, which helps pregnant women in need of support

Aims to improve the quality of life of single parent families by providing resources that strengthen their social support network, as well as improving their access to organised information that enable single parents to make informed decisions.[8]

  • Provides respite services for single parents to have some free time without their children for up to 4 hours a day. Service is provided on a case-by-case basis.
  • A volunteer network to provide social support and better accessibility to resources and advice
  • Plans regular child-friendly activities for the parent's enrichment

Single Parent Support Group

#asinglelove, an AWARE Initiative

Aims to advocate for the welfare and inclusion of single parent families, as well as provide services and programmes for single mothers. These services include

  • Financial assistance or back-to-work support
  • Emotional support, counselling or legal services
  • A divorce-related support group

Safe Place

Safe Place seeks to empower unsupported, expectant mothers to:

  • Take personal responsibility of their situations
  • Be equipped with life skills for themselves and their child
  • Embrace motherhood with confidence and hope

Their services include:

  • Case management and counselling
  • Authentic relationships with clients
  • Imparting critical life skills
  • Providing temporary accommodation
  • Referrals to other support partners