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Single Parents In Massachusetts Struggling, Study Finds

BOSTON — An estimated three in four families led by a single parent in Massachusetts do not earn enough money to make ends meet, according to a recent study.

The report, conducted by the Boston-based Crittenton Women’s Union, finds a single parent would need to earn $65,880 a year to pay for food, housing, child care, health care and other basic needs for one school-aged child and another in preschool.

Crittenton’s president and CEO, Elisabeth Babcock, joined WBUR’s Morning Edition for more on the study.

Interview Highlights:

On Why Single Parents Are Struggling

I think what’s really driving it is the shift over to knowledge-based jobs, jobs that require an education beyond high school. And although Massachusetts has 53 percent of the population with a college degree — which is among the highest in the United States — we also have among the highest requirement for education among in the jobs that we have here. We’re at the forefront of the knowledge-based economy.

Wages are not only stagnate, but they’ve actually eroded at the bottom of the earnings scale. So what we’re finding is that the young families or families in low wage paying jobs are on a treadmill where they’re running faster and faster and they’re just not able to keep up.

The Biggest Cost For Families 

Well the biggest cost to young families, believe it or not, is childcare — 31 percent of the family’s income goes to childcare. And then housing, of course, and taxes. Those are among the fastest growing costs for families in Massachusetts, particularly childcare.

On What Parents Can Do

People who are low income are not only are dealing with a lack of financial resources but they also have a lack of time. They’re working extra jobs and trying to take care of themselves and their families and so every investment they make, both in their time and in their money, has to be made extremely carefully. They can’t go into a college program and have the time to change their major 15 times. So they need information, good information and supports to get the education and training, certificate training, that will head them toward the jobs that will be able to support their families.

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  • Susan

    Divorce – easy to get, hard to live with. It is a no win situation and shouldn’t be entered into lightly. Think before you decide to get married, before you bring kids into the marriage, and think before you decide to end it.

    • Barbara

      What an outrageously judgmental comment. Single moms are the hardest working people I know, and to assume they arrived where they are due to an error in judgment, and not due to circumstances beyond their control, is not only mean and judgmental, it also implies you have shockingly little real-life experience on this matter.

    • Barbara

      What an outrageously judgmental comment. Single moms are the hardest working people I know, and to assume they arrived where they are due to an error in judgment, and not due to circumstances beyond their control, is not only mean and judgmental, it also implies you have shockingly little real-life experience.

      • Susan

        Oh get over yourself! Where did I say every single single parent did that?? Get your head out of your own problems and read.

        You have some serious issues.

    • http://twitter.com/dallassinglemom Heather Buen

      Susan as a single and divorced mother myself, I do agree with you that marriage should NOT be taken lightly and should not be done because you have a checklist or a need to please society. I received an annulment from the church and the process to get an annulment (which is still going on) can take almost three years. I wish the process by which to get an annulment was the same as the process to get married. Really looking at yourself, how you grew up, where you are moral and spiritual wise etc. While I understand not all single mothers went this route, it’s important to place an emphasis on truly building a relationship with yourself and others. I counsel people constantly working on their marriage because I have seen this side of the fence and it’s not always greener.

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