Covid ramifications stack up against single mother households

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Collaborator: Renae Morgan
Published: 02/20/2022, 2:49 AM
Edited: 02/21/2022, 3:35 AM

Photo Courtesy: Child Mind Institute Website 

(NATIONAL) Three years in, the Coronavirus pandemic has been one of the most challenging times for single parent families across America. 

Faced with a lack of child care support and frequent school closures, the task of balancing work and home life has never been so arduous for single working mothers. 

No childcare support 

During past surges of Covid-19, many states were forced into lock down to limit infection rates, including daycares. Single moms without a childcare alternative were forced to stay home, too. 

Alicia Young, a 36-year-old single mother of one, says she ended up quitting her CNA job in 2020 to stay home with her son. 

“It didn’t really hit me until it was announced that Damar’s school was closing and I realized that he would have no one to stay with him at home if I kept working,” Young said. “I just had to walk away and trust that I had enough money to look after us for a while.” 

Young’s story is one of many. 

A recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center shows during September 2020, six months after the virus outbreak, the number of single working moms with kids at home younger than 18 dropped to 67.4 percent, compared to 76.1 percent of single working moms in September 2019. 

The research shows this 9 percent drop is the highest of all the parental groups, whether partnered or not. Single fathers experienced a lower decrease in employment (4 percent), which is approximately the same figures seen for the drop in employment for partnered mothers and fathers (about 5 percent each).

“Money became tight”

As more single mothers are forced to abandon employment to care for their kids,  the struggle to feed their families increases. 

“The first month went by and we survived but after that money became extremely tight. I could barely afford to pay my bills,” Young said. “All of my expenses kept piling up more and more and there was no check coming in to help me to cover them.” 

Young went on to say that her mounting debts prompted her to seek funds from the government. 

“The only option was for me to file for unemployment and that was something that I swore that I would never do but I had no other choice,” Young said.  

35 percent of single mother households were reported as having food insecurity and hunger in late March 2021, as well as the highest ratios of hunger to low food security compared to other households during any time during the pandemic. 

”Bouncing back”

Single mothers quitting the workforce to stay home has had a rippling effect on American households and by extension the US economy. 

But Lauren Bauer, a fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution, remains optimistic things will return to normal for working moms. 

“People are coming back —and especially women,” Bauer said during a recent interview. “The combination of schools consistently opening and their kids being able to be vaccinated, they have been driving the labor force participation and employment recovery for the past several months.”

Latoya Blake, 45-year-old mom of two, shared the same sentiments as Bauer. 

“Right now, things are starting to look better with the virus,” Blake said. “Since schools are opening, my friends are working again. Things are starting to bounce back to the way they were.” 


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